1958 Bentley S1 Continental Fixed Head Coupe by Park Ward
Amelia Island - A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith
- The last of 24 factory left-hand-drive examples built
- Numbers-matching original engine
- Originally delivered via Peter Satori to longstanding Bentley client, C.H. Matthiessen Jr.
- Lovely, beautifully maintained restoration by marque specialists
- Offered with complete sets of hand and road tools
Most of the coachbuilt body styles available on the Bentley S1 Continental chassis were evolutions of the attractive designs created for the previous R-Type Continental. Among them was Park Ward’s fixed head coupe or sports saloon, style 701, which featured elegant styling with curving fenders with a “kick” in the rear “hips,” and a glassy roofline with large rear quarter pillars. As ever, the bodies were hand-crafted from aluminum panels. The result was simple, uncluttered elegance at its finest, and a lovely, subtle sporting automobile. Sixty-nine were produced, of which just 24 were originally fitted with left-hand drive.
The car offered here, chassis number BC48LCH, was the final left-hand-drive Park Ward fixed head coupe built. Interestingly, the order for the car was placed by and through the fabled Southern California salesrooms of Peter Satori, although delivery was made to the Brenner’s Park Hotel, one of the world’s most famous spas, in Baden-Baden, Germany. Sugar heir Conrad Henry Matthiessen Jr. was in residence there, “taking the cure” at the time; his version of the “cure” seemed to include ordering a new S1 Continental. It succeeded in his stable an 8-Litre Bentley, number YR5085, the sole example produced with American coachwork.
Mr. Matthiessen’s specifications for his new car included a steering column two inches longer than standard, U.S. instrumentation, dual horns, and fitting of a summer thermostat, with a winter thermostat made available for installation later; Park Ward fitted their own electric radio aerial. The rear fenders feature small fins with individual three-piece tail lamps, one of the two variations offered for this design. Interestingly, the car was specified to be subject to a 1,000-mile road test, prior to delivery, indicating Mr. Matthiessen’s intentions to use and enjoy it in Europe before bringing it back to the United States.
Following long-term ownership by enthusiast Allan Tweddle, the car was restored by the noted marque specialists Vantage Motorworks of Miami, Florida, in its present elegant livery of Bronze over Chocolate, an elegant and period-correct choice. The interior was finished in proper pleated tan leather with dark brown piping, and the seats are properly thinner than a standard S1 or Silver Cloud, as was correct for this coachbuilt, sporting model. An era-correct radio with medium- and long-wave reception is fitted in the dashboard, which, as with the rest of the veneers, has just the right amount of factory-correct gloss to its finish. The sealed-beam headlamps are correct, as are the Lucas fog lamps, while the engine compartment is tidy and authentically finished. As part of the restoration, Vantage Motorworks installed their well-regarded upgraded factory-style air conditioning, which blends nicely into the stock interior and is much appreciated on a Florida summer day! Opening the boot reveals complete sets of both road and hand tools, in their proper compartments, and a boot lid lined in proper leatherette, rather than being incorrectly carpeted, as is so often seen.
Seldom seen even compared to their drophead brethren, the Park Ward fixed head coupe is recognized as one of the styling high points on the S1 Continental chassis. This superlative example, a well-maintained restoration that is authentic, correct, and utterly lovely in all regards, stands head and shoulders above the rest. It is fit for either continued showing or for a summer road trip, to spa or beach house.