1958 Bentley S1 Continental Fastback Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner

Sold For $912,500

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Sotheby's - MONTEREY 24 - 25 AUGUST 2018
- Offered on Friday

Chassis No.
Engine No.
  • The most renowned body on this chassis; one of 22 left-hand-drive examples
  • Fascinating history; special-ordered by a Cuban socialite
  • Many unique bespoke features from new, including rear-mounted spare
  • Ultimate specifications, including the large-valve, large-carburetor 8:1 compression engine, dual master cylinder, and factory power steering
  • Period air conditioning and fitted luggage
  • Less than 52,000 actual miles
  • Concours-ready in every regard

The name Continental, then as now, has acquired cult-like status among Bentley enthusiasts. It was originally designated to a special Bentley designed to slip through the air effortlessly, while demonstrating impeccable road manners and impressive performance. Whether being driven in congested city traffic or long-distance, high-speed touring, the S1 Continental delivers on that promise, particularly in the lightweight ‘fastback’ sports saloon body by H.J. Mulliner, derived from the famous design used on most of the earlier R-Type Continentals, and crafted with weight reduction and chassis stability for long-distance touring firmly in mind. That it was a beautiful car, with extended, elegant lines with pronounced rear “fins,” giving it a visual sensation of speed even when parked, did not hurt, either.

This particular S1 Continental sports saloon, chassis no. BC4LDJ, is one of only 22 left-hand-drive examples produced to this design, and is a perfect example of “if a car could talk.” It was special-ordered by Josefina Tarafa, heiress to Cuban sugar magnate Oscar B. Cintas and a well-known photographer and socialite of the era, who made her home in Connecticut. As a late model of the series, it was originally specified with the high-performance, large-valve, large-carburetor 8:1 compression engine and factory power steering, along with the later dual master cylinder braking and heavier axle shafts. In fact, this was the first S1 Continental with power steering.

Build records, which accompany the car, note Ms. Tarafa’s numerous specially requested features, including high-speed driving headlamps, air horns, a unique spare wheel carrier, swiveling front ventilator windows, additional ventilation ducting and “rainshields,” interior reading lights, an eight-day winding clock, an altimeter, and a radio. The interior was practically a study on four wheels, with lockable front cabinets, ashtrays for all four passengers, map pockets, and window curtains, while the body was originally finished, appropriately enough, in “very very dark rich brown . . . .” Havana Brown, one might say.

The completed car was shipped not by ocean freighter but by Silver City Airways, a private British independent airline specializing in transporting luxury vehicles, from England to New York City, where its new owner took delivery. It appears that she owned the car until May 1976, when it was sold to Fred Sutherland of Los Angeles, showing 65,000 km on the odometer, or 40,389 miles, and still in its original livery.

Dr. Patrick Mauer, also of Los Angeles, acquired the car from Mr. Sutherland. During Dr. Mauer’s ownership the car was featured in an article in Connoisseur magazine, in 1988. He offered the car for sale in 1990, and it was purchased by Bentley specialist, Richard Gorman, of Miami’s Vantage Motorworks. Mr. Gorman used the car personally for about six years, until he sold it to Craig Zinn of Hollywood, Florida. At this time, the odometer showed 72,272 km, or 44,907 miles.

In 2002, the car was sent back to Vantage Motorworks, where it was refinished in Mason’s Black lacquer, and the interior was retrimmed using Rolls-Royce’s famous Connolly leather in tan. The well-preserved burled walnut interior trim was restored to concours standards, appropriate mechanical restoration was also performed, and finally a rare period-correct air-conditioning system was acquired and installed as it would have been done by Bentley in 1958.

In 2007 it was purchased by Jean Pierre Slavic who transported the car to his home on Lake Geneva, Switzerland. While there, mechanical restoration was completed, and a complete set of exquisite fitted leather luggage was made to fit precisely in the car’s boot. It was driven about 2,000 km while in Switzerland. A year later, showing 82,780 km, it was added to its current owner’s splendid collection.

Presented here in deep brilliant Mason’s Black, buttery leather interior, and exquisite walnut trim, it is in splendid condition cosmetically and mechanically, and is offered with its original owners’ handbook, six-piece set of fitted luggage, hand and road tools, build sheets, chassis cards, and shipping manifests, among many fascinating documents that tell its story and validate its exceptional provenance. The manual is particularly of note, as it is the original numbered to this car and has seven typed pages of instructions specific to this car, included by the factory.

A show-stopping classic, this highly desirable Continental is bound to turn heads today, just as it did nearly 50 years ago. You might have said the same about Josefina.

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