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S1 Continental 701 by Park Ward LH
The Bentley S was a luxury car produced by Bentley Motors Limited from 1955 until 1959.
Bentley (and Rolls-Royce)'s first true complete redesign of their standard production car after World War II and their last standard production car with an independent chassis.
These cars were given a new V8 engine in late 1959, and those cars are identified as S2. Twin headlamps and a facelift to the front arrived in late 1962, and those cars are known as S3.
This shape remained in production with those modifications until late 1965 when it was replaced with the completely new chassisless monocoque T series.
It was announced at the end of April 1955, and it was noted that the existing Continental model would continue. The new standard steel saloon replaced the R type standard steel saloon which had been in production, with modifications, since 1946. It was a more generously sized five- or six-seater saloon with the body manufactured in pressed steel with stressed skin construction. Doors, bonnet and luggage locker lid were of aluminium.
Having a totally new external appearance, although with the traditional radiator grille, the main differences from the R type were:
- three inches longer wheelbase
- lower build without reducing headroom and with an enlarged luggage boot
- softer suspension with electrically operated control of rear dampers
- lighter steering and improved braking
- engine capacity increased to 4887cc, the same size as used in the Bentley Continental
- four-speed automatic gearbox was standard, with ability to select individual ratios if desired.
As with the preceding Mark VI and R type Bentleys, there was almost no difference between standard Bentley and Rolls-Royce models; this Bentley S differing only in its radiator grille shape and badging from the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I.
The models shared the 4.9 L (4887 cc/298 in³) straight-6 engine. They were the last vehicles to be powered by descendants of the engine originally used in the Rolls-Royce Twenty from 1922 to 1929. The bore was 95.25 mm (3.7 in), stroke was 114.3 mm (4.5 in) and compression ratio 6.6:1. Twin SU carburetors were fitted, with upgraded models from 1957. A 4-speed automatic transmission was standard.
Two wheelbases were produced: 123 in (3124 mm) and, from 1957, 127 in (3226 mm).
- S: 3072 (145 with coachbuilt bodies)
- S long wheelbase: 35 (12 with coachbuilt bodies)
A high-performance version S Continental (chassis only) was introduced six months later, lighter weight fixed head and drophead coupé bodies were provided to special order for a premium of about 50% by H. J. Mulliner & Co., Park Ward, James Young and Freestone & Webb. A pre-production 2-seater fixed-head coupé on the new chassis was designed and built for the Bentley factory by Pininfarina. In 1959 motoring correspondent Archie Vicar described it as a "comfortable large saloon with a decent turn of speed". 'It brings Bentley back to the forefront of the world's fastest cars,' Autocar remarked of the H J Mulliner-styled fastback which, arguably, was the quickest four/five-seater saloon of its day. The S-Type's new box-section chassis incorporated improved brakes and suspension and an enlarged (to 4,887cc) and more powerful version of the existing inlet-over-exhaust six-cylinder engine, which for the first time was identical in specification in its Rolls and Bentley forms. The Continental version came with shorter radiator and higher gearing and, for a time at least, could be ordered with right-hand 'change, manual transmission. As had been the case with the original R-Type, the new S-Type Continental was only ever available as a coachbuilt car, the designs produced by independent coachbuilders for the S1 Continental chassis being among the era's most stylish, although arguably none ever improved on H J Mulliner's sublime original.
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