Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Park Ward
H.G. Day and Family, California (acquired new in 1957)
Following the success of the high-performance R-Type Continental, the updated, sporting Bentley platform went on to enjoy continued praise as a highly capable road car of supreme luxury. Built in very limited numbers, the list of early owners reads like a Society Blue Book.
The Bentley Continental’s aluminum coachwork was aerodynamically designed to slip smoothly through the air and contrasted greatly with the Bentley standard steel cars of the time. Although it shared an identical chassis and engine, the Continental was fitted with a 2.923 rear axle instead of the standard 3.42, allowing the six-cylinder, 4.9-litre engine to sustain high-speed, long-distance cruising with ease.
Bentley Motors Ltd. built 431 S1 Continentals, compared with 3,072 standard steel-bodied cars. Among the Continentals, just 69 received Park Ward’s sporting Design No. 701 coachwork, a low-profile, four-light, two-door saloon with strikingly elegant proportions and ample room for four. About 24 of these 69 cars were originally built in left-hand drive. The S1 Continental, with its remarkable performance and stunning good looks, soon became the Bentley model of choice for those who had the means. In 1957, the model’s suggested retail price including tax was a lofty £7,587 (approximately $21,000).
This factory left-hand-drive Continental Park Ward Saloon was built to the specification of its first owner, Mr. H.G. Day, a successful American businessman, who in mid-1957 took delivery of the coupe, which was registered SYX 961 in England. Mr. Day enjoyed the Bentley in the UK for a short time before having it shipped to his home in Palo Alto, California. Throughout the 1960s and later, the Bentley was used between Mr. Day’s homes in California and Florida, and he maintained ownership of the car throughout his life.
Following Mr. Day’s passing in 1994, the Park Ward Saloon was transferred to Mr. Day’s nephew, a resident of Southern California. Soon after, the S1 was the subject of a bare-metal refinish in its current dark green, a change from the light shade of brown that it had worn since new. Likewise, the Connolly leather of the front seats was replaced, though the rear seat, door panels, armrests, and the interior wood veneers remain original and in fine condition.
In 2011, the Saloon was sent to Bentley of Beverly Hills for mechanical service, which included rebuilding of the carburetors. The car is described as very competent on the road with a smooth idle, steering gear, shifting, and effective brakes.
Park Ward’s custom Rolls-Royce and Bentleys of the 1950s are some of the world’s most exclusive and elegant cars of the era. Never previously offered for public sale, and emerging from consistent service with a single family since new, the appearance of this well-kept coachbuilt Bentley represents a seldom-seen opportunity.