Bentley S1 Continental Fastback Coupe
The ’50s were a never-to-be-replicated era for spectacular automobile design. Rolls-Royce and Bentley, whose styling up to that time was rather tame, happily adapted to this unrestrained form of artistic expression. Bentley Motors, wishing to make its mark in the early ’50s, made a big splash with its R-type Continental in 1952 and most of the 211 examples featuring a bold fastback design, with two raised fins on each side in the rear. When introduced, the car was the fastest four-seat production car in the world. It was a spectacular success, despite costing many times more than a Cadillac of the same era.
The company revived the "Continental" designation from pre-war Rolls-Royces, with about 20 more horsepower from a higher compression engine and large bore exhaust system, higher gearing and modified suspension for greater cruising speeds. In fact, maximum cruising speed was almost 120 mph, and the Continental could maintain these speeds effortlessly all day long. 1956 marked the final iteration of the W.O. Bentley-designed straight-six engine. With 4.9 litres, increased compression, larger carburettors and intake valves, power was said to have increased by 13 percent.
As cars became more powerful and refined through the 1950s, Bentley adapted the new “Cloud”-series chassis and engine to its prior fastback design, this time on the S-1 chassis. Gone were the weight-saving features of the R-type model, such as lightweight seats, replaced by more luxurious seating, and other newer features could then be ordered, like electric windows and air conditioning. Combined with a host of suspension, steering and braking improvements, which by this time were power-assisted, the entire S1 Continental package was finely tuned to ensure capable, competent road manners and excellent performance. The S-1 Continental Fastback Coupé was a big success continuing in the tradition of its predecessor.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2011 at the Battersea Evolution, London.
153 hp, 4,887 cc inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, front independent with live axle rear suspension, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,125 mm.
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Dan Savinelli