British classic 1956 Bentley S1 ready for a stately driving tour

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Bentley
The Bentley S1 is slightly toned-down version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud

Bentley is one of the most storied and mythic automotive names in history. These British cars bring up images of Le mans racing in the 1920s and ‘30s. After later being acquired by Rolls-Royce, the cars from Bentley were nicknamed “The Silent Sportscar.”

The Bentley brand became further blurred when in the 1950s, it became basically a re-badged Rolls-Royce. People during this time thought of Bentleys as the car for someone who wanted a Rolls-Royce but did not want to be so flashy.

The Pick of the Day, a 1956 Bentley S1 Standard Steel Saloon, is basically a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud with a different grille. But don’t let that put you off because the Silver Clouds were the last truly classic Rolls-Royce automobiles, exceptionally well built and possibly the finest car of the period.

Bentley
The Bentley epitomizes British style and luxury

But in the Bentley version, you get a car that does not shout Rolls, and it is something rarer than the Rolls Silver Cloud equivalent.

All the Bentley S1 and Silver Cloud cars share the same drivetrain, powered by the Rolls-Royce 155-horsepower, 4.9-liter overhead-valve inline-6-cylinder engine. This is the last car that Bentley and Rolls produced using this legendary powerplant. All feature an automatic transmission.

The Silver Cloud and S series cars are also the last standard production models with separate chasses and bodies.

This Bentley S1 is “not a project car. It is absolutely ready for the road,” according to the Sacramento private seller advertising the sedan on ClassicCars.com. The odometer shows just over 62,000 miles and the car is described in the ad as “partially restored.”

Bentley
The right-hand-drive interior is redolent of wood and leather

The ad goes on to say the car could be driven anywhere with confidence, an important statement as many Bentley S cars on the market are in need of expensive servicing to get them ready for cross-country driving.

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The car starts and runs exceptionally well and is a real pleasure to drive, the seller ads. The original 6-cylinder engine is said to be in very good condition, accelerating quickly and cruising easily at highway speeds.

The seller lists the recent attention this car has received, which include new wool carpet on the lower doors, new radial tires, new upper and lower suspension trunions, new steering box mount bushing, a transmission service including a fresh band adjustment and new fluid, a new ignition coil, new fuel-tank sender, rebuild brake hydraulics, Pertronix Electronic Ignition upgrade, and a new exhaust system.

Bentley
Folding wooden seat-back tables are a luxurious rear-seat feature

All gauges, lights, and the heater, function perfectly, the seller notes, and the original leather upholstery and wood interior trim look to be in good shape.

As a right-hand-drive model, this S1 is a bit less desirable in the US than a left-drive model would be. Having driving both LHD and RHD Bentleys recently, I have to say that a RHD car is quite easy to adjust to, and this lower price to me represents a great deal.

This stately Bentley S1 has an asking price of only $32,500, which likely adds up to less money than the recent servicing this car has received. Don’t let that scare you off as these cars are actually quite simple mechanisms, built to the highest standards available at the time.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

2 COMMENTS

  1. My father purchased a ’56 S-1 for resale back in the early seventies. As stated here, it was an extremely competent car for cruising the Interstate at illegal speeds (over 55 in the day). I drove it from time to time, once to the local junior college to attend a class – where it became the subject of the day. Before Dad could sell the Bentley, he was hit head-on by a driver who fell asleep on a two-lane road. The car was totaled. Dad got off with a broken leg. I still have the owner’s manual and a photo of the car as it sat in the wrecking yard.

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