The Bentley Continental Fastback was first launched in 1951 at an original cost of £6928. The car was designed by Ivan Evernden and at the time was at the very forefront of British engineering. The Aluminium construction was initially paired with a 4.5L straight six, which was later increased to 4.9L, produced between 158 – 172 BHP and was designed to produce vast amounts of torque.
The combination of this lightweight design and huge power allowed the luxury 4 seater to reach speeds of up to 120mph and cruise comfortably at the coveted ‘Ton’, figures other manufacturers of the era could only dream of.
The coachwork was handcrafted by HJ Milliner and featured elegant sweeping lines to its pronounced rear ‘fins’. The elegant aerodynamic form cut through the air whilst maintaining a feel of the upmost quality, from its exquisite chrome trim running along the curves of the exterior to meet the traditional grille upon which the iconic Flying Spur sits in all its glory.
At the time of production the Bentley was the most expensive car in production so naturally it was reserved for only the wealthiest people of the era, notable owners of these vehicles included His Imperial Majesty The Shah of Iran, HRH Prince Frederick of Prussia, The Emperor of Annam and The Maharaja of Indore. Naturally with such clientele, the engineering of the Continental was not limited to its exterior.
The interior of the Bentley was designed to exude luxury, only hinting to its tremendous performance with the large driver focused rev counter sat within the hand crafted wooden dash. The huge leather seats provided unparalleled comfort especially in conjunction with its impressive suspension and smooth power delivery through a 4-speed gearbox. Even at speed the S1 remained stable and quiet; it truly was the benchmark for high speed cruising even by today’s standards.
RHD, 4 Speed Automatic, 4.9L Straight Six, Power Steering, Passenger Wing Mirror, Radio, Smiths Dash Clocks, Adjustable Sun Visor With Tinted Inserts, Front & Read Seat Belts, De-Mist Function.
In terms of style the Continental is considered to be one of the definitive figures of its era. This example was handcrafted by coachbuilder H.J Mulliner in 1956 and originally finished in Cadillac Green. In 2010 the vehicle was subject to a bare metal respray and painted in Rolls-Royce Brewster Green, a stunning finish which it still retains having covered less than 1,500 miles since the work took place.
The bold presence of the car is accentuated by its spotless chrome grille whilst a more subtle pinstripe flows effortlessly along the entire contoured side profile of the car. At the rear you find more superb chrome work centred around the iconic Bentley emblem and below this, the original spec GB badge and badge bar.
The interior of this car is a very special place to behold. The re-upholstered seats are in superb shape, finished in a supple grey leather would not seem out of place in a stately home. The feel and smell of the cabin provide unparalleled comfort, a feeling of luxury and warmth to satisfy even the most discerning of passengers.
Up front there is a hand made dash console, french polished to perfection, fitted with Smiths Dials and a period correct radio. The details within the car are second to none, from the ratcheted chrome window winders to the singular embossed central interior light. Every dial, switch and handle operates with a tactile, mechanical satisfaction synonymous to the Bentley brand.
Engine & Transmission:
Beneath the split bonnet lies the gleaming B61 4.9L straight six, freshly detailed the car seems to have just rolled out of the factory. Like everything with this car the motor has been meticulously maintained having covered just over 16,000 miles since a complete engine rebuild and rear axle overhaul.
It starts on the button to produce a low rumble from its single tail pipe; at idle it is smooth and reassuring much like the power delivery through the 4 speed automatic gearbox. The power and torque of the engine is instantly noticeable as you begin to accelerate up to a famous cruising speed of 100 MPH and beyond.
Wheels, Tyres & Brakes:
The Continental sits on fresh Maxxis MA-1 rubber and a characteristic large profile tyre to enhance the comfortable ride of the car. The hub caps were expertly refurbished along with the rest of the trim in 2010 and feature a matching tonal inner circle with pinstripe detailing.
The car also features all round drum brakes which offer plenty of stopping power.
Originally registered in April 1956, this lovely Continental was sold by H.R Owen of London to a Mr J G Walton of Teversal Manor, Sutton in Ashfield. He had his cherished JW 8 registration assigned to his Bentley. Mr Walton was also involved in the family business – The Walton Hosiery Company Ltd. Famous for their 1961 merger with Pretty Polly Hosiery company.
The car was later taking in custody by Mr D L Duff Esq from Barkers Of Windsor before being sold to Mr Dalton. Upon Mr Dalton’s purchase in 1979 he commissioned a technical inspection of the car by barkers garage of Victoria St.
The report summary states ” The vehicle which forms the subject of this report is, in my opinion a good example of the model for its age and type. Restoration work has been Carried out, however, the overall condition reflects a high standard of owner maintenance”. It also states “Completion of the listed repairs should be a condition of purchase”.
Correspondence between Duff and Dalton then leads to specialists P & A wood of Essex carrying out an inspection and repair of the car totalling nearly £3,300 in 1980/81.
Mr Victor Ashwell then purchased the car in 1984, a well known member of the Bentley Driver’s Club, who kept a meticulous log of maintenance and general work the car underwent for 20 years which is included in the cars comprehensive history file. Whilst owned by Mr Ashwell the car covered less than 35,000 miles and underwent a gearbox rebuild in 1986, interior re-trim in 1990 and a complete engine rebuild in 1993.
A Mr Medcalf then became the owner of the Continental in 2004 and continued the log of maintenance for the next 4 years.
In 2008 Mr Viken E Krikorian became the owner of the vehicle and was able to get verification in 2009 that the cars retains its original body and engine from W.E.B Medcalf Hon. Technical Adviser & valuation Officer for Crewe Built Cars of the Bentley Drivers Club. He also oversaw a bare metal respray of the vehicle in 2010, less than 16,000 miles after the complete mechanical overhaul of the car.
The Continental was later acquired by Swissco. Investments AG before being sold to Jason Kay as part of his collection via Frank Dale and Stepsons marque specialists before the current owner took over the responsibility of this historic automobile.
The history file that is presented along side the car tells the story of a much loved classic. Previous owners have gone to extraordinary lengths to preserve the life of this Bentley including a log of invoices for the car dating back to as early as the 1970’s, a series of intricate hand written instructions, MOT history tracing back to 1985 and a copy of the original chassis card just to name a few.
This truly is one of the finest examples of the Bentley Continental Fastback S1 in existence. A fantastic story waiting for its next chapter.