Overall condition: Excellent
Number of owners: 2 (note: this has been initially registered in Ireland, so I’m not sure if DVLA will have included ‘EU’ owners within that number)
History: Incredibly detailed – it would appear the vast majority of paperwork is present – didn’t appear to have any gaps and it’s all stored very well in folders and files related to each owner.
MOT: Exempt – last MOT July 2019
We cannot give an overview on the brilliant Bentley S1 without talking about Rolls Royce, for it was Rolls Royce who in 1950 decided to begin work on the Silver Cloud which ultimately led to the S1 we have here today.
Grylls, who was heading up the project and the future chief engineer, was given a pretty thorough brief on his design. One of those elements was that the car needed to use the existing 4,887cc engine.
Remember, that B series straight six was an engine first brought to life in the early part of the 20th century and has been used in all sorts including British military vehicles – it’s not something to be sniffed at. Coachwork however, was a little more fluid and Blatchley, who was new to the role at the time of Chief Stylist at Rolls created the coachwork which was constructed from 20 gauge steel on a box section – reportedly 50% stronger than the Silver Dawn. The car used its predecessor’s coil and wishbone front suspension, with something new: a semi-trailing configuration to increase well movement and and a rear anti roll bar.
After 5 years of careful planning and work, the S1 and the Silver Cloud debuted in April 1955, marking an important moment in the joint history for both brands with the Silver Cloud being the first Rolls to share exactly the same engine with the Bentley counterpart. But what’s in a name? Well, about £135 actually, because whilst the Rolls came in at £5,079, the Bentley was a bargain £4,944 – which is roughly four times the cost of the Rover P4 75 of that year.
In 2023, the Bentley S1 represents a bygone era of understated glamour and timeless elegance; when motoring wasn’t a chore to simply get us from A to B but an occasion of which to savour.
Future owners of this treasured and carefully maintained Bentley can look forward to recapturing some of the magic of classic driving and whether they’re up front in the driving seat or luxuriating in the passenger seat, there is pleasure to be had in every mile.
When we describe this S1 as excellent, it almost does the condition a disservice. The paintwork is gleaming and the brightwork, which was rechromed over lockdown, is sparkling in the sunshine. The vehicle which has been used sparingly, shows no signs of paint chipping or paint degradation and the only area of note is the fuel cap which on certain angles, shows a slight imperfection within the paintwork. As this is a removable area, this is something which could be corrected and perfected for a very low cost.
The door handles and locks which are original and have not been restored, show slight tarnishing befitting of the age of the vehicle, but this patina adds charm and doesn’t detract from what is an exceptionally well cared for motor.
The coachline, which is hand painted and not a decal as you may see on a cheaper restoration, is applied perfectly with a steady hand and looks to be original.
All the doors shut perfectly and uniformly, with no exertion or undue force. The shut lines are perfect and there are no causes for concern on the doors.
There are slight areas which future owners may wish to address but these are so slight they could either stay as is to preserve the history and originality of the vehicle, or be restored/replaced to easily achieve concours status.
These areas are off side light missing small red detail to top of chrome, slight discolouration in offside headlight and slight scratch marks to the glass in offside rear door. The scratches are so slight that they do not show up in photographs and only visible at certain angles.
Mechanically, the bills for this car would suggest it has never found wanting for anything within its rich and colourful life and as you look under the bonnet, this is hugely evident. Nothing is hugely amiss and all the hoses, cables and perishable items look to have plenty of life left in them.
In photos you’ll see that under the bonnet is relatively tidy, although the wiper motor which has recently been fixed could do with a tidy up to the wiring – an hour’s worth of work to get it looking smart again.
On test drive, the car performed faultlessly and cruised through the gears without hesitation or crunching. The engine came up to temperature in the time expected and the handling was completely as it should be for the vehicle. It was a pleasurable drive and handles like a low mileage, well maintained example. Unlike poor examples where handling can be questionable or the vehicle can feel wanting, this vehicle feels fresh, new as it possibly can do for the age and well loved.
The full tool kit as supplied with the vehicle is present in the boot and this includes the torch. These so often go missing, so it’s a real joy to not only find it all there, but also in fantastic largely unused condition. Please note that due to the age of the tools, they serve better purpose as ornamental or decorative within the car and modern tools are recommended in the event of practical work needing to be undertaken.
All the tyres fitted to the vehicle are Milestar Radials – Traction A/Temp B. They are all dated 2018 and show no signs of wear and do not need replacing. The spare tyre is a crossply and will need immediate replacement to be usable in the event of a flat tyre.
Prospective buyers will be overjoyed to note that the interior is just as wonderfully well kept as the external condition on the car.
The front seat has been retrimmed in a leather so close in colour and quality to the rear, you’ll struggle to notice at first glance this has been upholstered. The front seat condition is excellent and looks as good as new. The back seat is of a similarly wonderful condition, but there are a couple of dark spots/stains on the rear no bigger than a 50p piece. Even the most discerning of viewers will find it bears no impact on the wow factor when you open the doors.
The veneer across the front dash and surrounding the gauges is in fine fettle and there is no warping, cracks or points to note. It is simply quality through and though, with no concerns or improvements needed.
The veneer in the back is also in perfect condition and the fold down picnic trays are not only present, but fold down with no tarnishing to the trays or to the chrome fixtures. Being critical, the trays are stiff to fold down, but we suspect this is due to the fact the vehicle has been so rarely used and with that, the tray usage has been sparing.
Just like the rest of the interior, the carpets are in fantastic condition – with no stains or concerns.
Every gauge is working and on the test video you may note the wipers did not work – this has now been fixed by the owner.
In a world where modern automotive is simply a means of transport and a vessel in which to while away the hours in traffic jams, it makes perfect sense to invest in something exciting for those special moments and weekends away when a modern mode of transport is not needed.
The driving experience is luxuriously elegant and the community for Bentleys both online and in local groups across the UK is excellent; which means that whether you’re behind the wheel, sitting in the passenger seat or attending an event with this special car, you’re guaranteed a great time.
In addition to this, the vehicle is one of the best in its class. The history file is so thick you’ll need a full day to read and digest the contents, the condition is excellent enough to put it in for consideration for concours and the maintenance and hard jobs have all been done. This is a vehicle set for pleasure and good times – the very essence of why you’d pick a classic car.
Being of such high calibre, the vehicle lends itself to private ownership and business opportunity. Silver/grey cars always photograph well and this one is no exception; making it a great choice for brides, proms and other special landmark occasions.
Plus, the age of the vehicle means it is eligible for the Goodwood Revival car park in addition to many other traditional classic events; which puts the vehicle squarely in the hallowed arena of traditional classics and opens many doors to a plethora of events.
To summarise, this Bentley S1 is one of the best examples to come to market in quite some time. From the history file to the condition; you’ll not only be wowed as the owner but you’ll surprise and delight bystanders who will revel in the beauty just as much as you do.
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