The success of the R Type Continental between 1952 and 1955 lead to the creation of the S1 Continental chassis, which was released in April of 1955. For the first time Bentley enthusiasts had a greater choice of coachwork designs to choose from with H.J. Mulliner and Park Ward responsible for bodying most of the S1 Continentals produced. One of the most popular designs was the fastback coachwork by H.J. Mulliner, built to Design No 7400. It was modified to fit the three inch longer S1 Continental chassis and in styling terms was adapted further from the R Type Continental with a raised front wing line and less bulbous rear wings with a higher line, which were finished with stylish new swage lines.
Chassis number BC56BG is one of just ninety-seven right hand drive all aluminium bodied S1 Continental Fastback’s built by H.J. Mulliner in Chiswick West London between 1955 and 1959 to Design No 7400. It was delivered by the supplying agent Jack Barclay Ltd in February of 1957 to its first owner a Mr R.W. Asquith of Halifax in Yorkshire in its original livery of Tudor grey over black pearl coachwork with tan leather interior. Chassis No BC56BG is notably the very first of just twelve manual transmission S1 Continental Fastbacks built, and the first manual transmission S1 Continental of any coachwork style. It was also one of the very first S1 Continentals to be fitted with power steering, easing manoeuvrability at low speeds.
In its early years Chassis No BC56BG changed hands a number of times before being purchased in 1986 by a London based enthusiast. Frank Dale & Stepsons maintained the vehicle for him before acquiring the car for the first time in the late 1990’s and supplying it in 1999. The car remained in a large collection of cars for ten years until being reacquired by Frank Dale & Stepsons in the spring of 2009 and supplied to its current owner.
Upon acquisition, the present owner instructed restoration works by us which included but were not limited to a bare metal repaint in gunmetal grey and restoration and re-plating of the brightwork to complete the exterior appearance. The original tan leather interior was re-conditioned and complemented with new carpets and headlining. The French walnut woodwork was also removed and restored. Significant upgrades to the original specification were also implemented at the owner’s request, with air conditioning fitted, the cool air being ducted through a new wooden panel fitted to the lower edge of the dashboard. The 1950’s dashboard appearance was maintained with a correct period radio unit, whilst new modern speakers were fitted under the dashboard and in the rear parcel shelf, complemented by a new head unit fitted into the glove box, complete with iPod application and blue tooth facility. The final touch was a set of five new white wall radial tyres.
Chassis No BC56BG is complete with all of its original equipment, including correct owners handbook, wheel changing tools and small tools which are stored in their H.J. Mulliner tool box situated in the boot. It also still carries its original number plate, that being TLC 389. The S1 Continental Fastback by H.J. Mulliner is unquestionably one of the most sought-after post-war Bentleys produced and, in our opinion, this particular car is one of the best and also most interesting being the very first manual transmission example built.
Four speed manual gearbox, power steering, 6 cylinder in-line configuration engine, 4.9 litres displacement, 4887cc capacity. Drum brakes servo-assisted.