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Amelia Island | Lot 123

1956 Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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$1,683,000 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida

10 March 2017


Chassis No.
Engine No.
BC22LBG
BC21B
  • One of just 31 left-hand-drive examples built of this most desirable design
  • Numbers-matching original engine
  • Delivered new to American banker and socialite Edwin Jay Gould
  • Only two registered owners; retained by its original owner until 1993
  • High-quality restoration by marque specialists Vantage Motorworks
  • Complete with both original tool sets and even original keys
  • An exceptional example in every regard

Body Style 700. Est. 178 bhp, 4,887 cc F-head inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and vacuum-assisted four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 123 in.

Chassis number BC22LBG is the most desirable catalogued S1 Continental body style, the drophead coupe by Park Ward. Unlike the majority of Bentley convertibles during this era, this style was not an “adaptation” from factory design stampings, but rather a fully custom body, built from the ground up by Park Ward’s craftsmen, handcrafted in aluminum. It is distinguished by smooth, subtle body lines, with the long, fully “flow through” fenders that flow from the front to the rear “hips,” and rear fenders that kick up slightly to form tiny tailfins.

Park Ward built this design on only 31 left-hand-drive S1 Continental chassis, and the survivors are among the most fiercely prized of all post-war Bentleys.

The car offeredƒre was ordered by Edwin Jay Gould, great-grandson of railroad tycoon Jay Gould, and later to become a prominent New York real estate investor and socialite in his own right, who distinguished himself as a sportsman and conservationist. Only 25 at the time that he took delivery of his Bentley, Mr. Gould specified the car with sealed-beam headlamps, special fender lights, and Windtone horns, as well as the usual U.S. features, including a speedometer in miles-per-hour.

Mr. Gould’s Bentley was delivered into his care at Rose Hill Plantation in Bluffton, South Carolina, his mother’s estate. Interestingly, the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Croydon Convertible Coupe and Newport Town Car also on offer this weekend were owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gould; thus, we have the unusual and coincidental good fortune to offer three automobiles that were once owned by the same family – father, mother, and in this case, son.

The S1 Continental remained with Mr. Gould, its original owner, until his passing in 1993. It was in solid and original condition, with just over 40,000 actual miles recorded, and was titled in Palm Beach, Florida, to which it had relocated in 1990. Well-known Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialist Richard Gorman was successful in acquiring the car from the estate, and his respected Vantage Motorworks of Miami proceeded to give it a sympathetic restoration. An attractive livery of Gunmetal Grey over Mason’s Black, with Dove Grey Connolly leather interior piped in black and an English mohair top, was chosen. While the car is believed to have changed hands twice since, Mr. Smith was only the second private owner to title the car, in 2010, and therefore is its second registered owner.

As part of upgrades and improvements to the restoration in 2008, Vantage installed one of their well-known, period factory-style air conditioning conversions, making the car more suitable for enthusiastic year-round use under the Florida sun. The car retains “purdah” glass sun visors, as-original, as well as a later, period-correct radio. Importantly, at the time of cataloguing, the splendid, immaculate restoration had recorded 50,511 miles – still actual mileage, and accounting for about 10,000 miles of enjoyment in Mr. Smith’s caring hands.

Accompanying the Bentley today are the original and complete sets of road and hand tools, with the hand tool tray featuring the extremely rare and desirable “Kismet” tire gauge with its original paper wrapping; the original set of keys with codes engraved; an original owner’s handbook; and documentation of its long-term care by the original owner.

The offering of a correct and proper, original left-hand-drive S1 Continental drophead coupe is a great and wonderful rarity. Few, however, have such a pristine history, fine equipment, and splendid, well-sorted restoration as this low-mileage example. It is an exceptional automobile, owned and treasured since new by exceptional men.

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