Tue, 6th Jun 2017 13:00

Woodcote Park

  Lot 42

1956 Bentley S1 Continental Fastback

Estimated at £360,000 - £400,000

Lot details
Registration No: 352 UYU
Chassis No: BC94AF
Mot Expiry: Sept 2017

- Entered from a private collection and current ownership since 1984

- Supplied new to James Douglas Alston CBE of South Lopham Hall, Norfolk by Jack Barclay Ltd and later the property of the actor Patrick Allen

- 1 of just 119 S1 Continental chassis bodied to design number 7400 by H.J. Mulliner

- Extensive period service history with Jack Barclay Ltd

Allocated design number 7400, the two-door all-aluminium Fastback coachwork which H.J. Mulliner crafted for the Bentley S1 Continental chassis was decidedly rarer than that fitted to its R-Type predecessor. Stylistically more reserved but still "flowing and purposeful and free from any needless excrescence", the newcomer was not only underpinned by a notably stiffer chassis (up fifty percent in terms of torsional rigidity) but also boasted a smaller turning circle, more compliant suspension and improved hydraulic brakes. Typically allied to four-speed automatic transmission, its refined 4887cc OISE straight-six engine yielded a 120mph top speed and impressive acceleration. Arguably the ultimate Bentley S1 Continental variant, the H.J. Mulliner Fastback was among the very fastest and most glamorous four-seaters of its generation.

According to its accompanying copy chassis cards, this particular example - chassis BC94AF - was supplied new via Jack Barclay Ltd and Mann Egerton & Co Ltd to James Douglas Alston CBE of South Lopham Hall, Diss, Norfolk (a gentleman farmer and former deputy Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk whose business interests extended to Norwich City Football Club). Clothed by H.J. Mulliner with body number 5888, the Bentley was initially road registered as 'SYE 545' on 5th July 1956 and finished in Tartan Green with Champagne leather upholstery. Purchased from Jack Barclay Ltd by A.J. Koenen Esq. - a London-based wine merchant - some three years and 38,000 miles later, the Fastback passed to its third keeper the renowned stage and screen actor Patrick Allen Esq during February 1966. Re-registered as 'PKA 999' during his tenure which copy Jack Barclay Ltd invoices show lasted well into the 1970s, chassis BC94AF is then known to have passed through the hands of Bertram Cowen Ltd, Kevin Dolan Esq. and Nicholas Hart Esq. before entering the current ownership on October 1st 1984 (purchase invoice on file).

Assorted old MOT certificates suggest that the Bentley has covered just 10,000 or so miles over the last thirty-two years. Part of an impressive private collection during that time (and stabled alongside its sibling BC90AF for several decades), the luxurious four-seater sports saloon has nevertheless been treated to an engine overhaul by Arthur Archer of Dunmow: new piston rings, bearings, valve guides, gaskets etc (1987, c.5,000 miles ago), replacement woolcloth headlining (2000), front suspension refurbishment (2006), new windscreen (2009), fresh exhaust system (2012) and rejuvenated wood veneers (2016) plus attention to its ignition system and brakes etc. Pleasingly thought to retain its original Champagne leather upholstery, the Fastback had already been repainted Dark Blue when Mr Dolan displayed it at the RREC's South of England Rally on 8th May 1983. Awarded 2nd Place in the Best Visiting Classic Class at the Jaguar Drivers' Club's East Anglian Concours d'Elegance Meeting some twenty-four years later, the Bentley remains a very imposing and presentable motorcar.

Performing well on a recent 100-mile journey to Brighton and back, this decidedly rare S1 Continental H.J. Mulliner Fastback - 1 of just 119 - is accompanied by an original sales brochure, handbook and history file. Road registered as '352 UYU', the four-seater's most recent MOT certificate runs until 16th September 2017 and was issued to it with 'no advisories'. Post-War Bentleys rarely come more beautiful or collectable.

H&H would like to thank Robert Lewis for kindly allowing us to use his grounds for photography purposes.

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