Villa Erba

23 May 2015

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Lot 139

1959 Bentley S1 Continental 'Flying Spur' Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner

  • Chassis no. BC41LFM
  • Engine no. BC40F
  • Body no. 6161

Sold for €224.000


178 bhp, 4,887 cc inline six-cylinder engine with dual SU carburettors, four-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and wishbones, semi-elliptic rear springs with electrically controlled piston-type dampers, and power-assisted hydraulic front and hydro-mechanical rear drum brakes with mechanical servo assistance. Wheelbase: 3,124 mm

  • The 1959 New York Auto Show car
  • One of three, sporting, alloy-bodied, left-hand-drive “Four Light” Flying Spurs
  • Original engine, gearbox, and coachwork, as documented by factory build sheets
  • Recent cosmetic and mechanical freshening by Padgett Motor Engineers
  • One of the most important Bentley designs of its era


The Bentley S1 Continental contrasted strongly with the company’s “Standard Steel” cars of the late 1950s. Whilst the Continental shared an identical chassis and engine to the standard S1, it boasted a 2.923 rear axle, which allowed for the 4,887-cubic centimetre six-cylinder engine, with its 8.0:1 compression ratio, to propel the car to sustained high-speed, long-distance cruising with incredible ease. Autocar magazine recorded an elapsed time of 18.8 seconds at 120.5 mph in the quarter-mile, which was much faster than the Standard Steel Saloon’s 19.7 seconds at 101 mph. It is no surprise, then, that the remarkable performance of the S1 Continental, along with its stunning good looks, made it the Bentley of choice for the fortunate few who could afford it.

Adding to the Continental’s appeal was the broad selection of attractive coachwork available for it. Amongst the most elegant and noteworthy was H.J. Mulliner’s Sports Saloon, which was affectionately known as the “Flying Spur” after the heraldic device of one of Mulliner’s managing directors. With its smooth, flowing lines and sporty close-coupled styling, it was one of the most dramatic S1 Continentals, and it is arguably the most desirable variant to be found today.

The Bentley Flying Spur was offered in two models, with either four or six side windows; the “Four Light” variant, style number 7443/B, was the most rare, as it was used on only fourteen S1 Continental chassis, of which only three were factory left-hand-drive examples. One of that trio is the car offered here, chassis number BC41LFM.

According to documentation obtained from the Rolls-Royce Foundation, this Sports Saloon was used by the factory as their 1959 New York Automobile Show car. It was then delivered through famous New York dealer J.S. Inskip to Vincent Shea, a prominent Manhattanite who, along with his wife Madeline, was a prominent Rolls-Royce and Bentley customer for many years. Copies of the original build information record the car’s fascinating original specifications, which include an amusing handwritten request for “anti-hobo door locks”.

In its present ownership, the car has undergone extensive mechanical and cosmetic freshening by British Bentley specialists Padgett Motor Engineers. The car’s paintwork and brightwork were well-detailed, and its mechanical restoration included the installation of new suspension, braking, steering, and cooling systems, as well as a new exhaust silencer. Service work was performed on the gearbox, fuel, ignition, and electrical systems, new belts and tyres were installed, and a tune-up and final adjustments were performed.

This highly desirable and rare alloy-bodied Bentley Flying Spur, which is well-prepared and backed up by factory documentation, will certainly provide a winning bidder with the enormous pride of ownership that only comes with owning one of the first post-war British grand tourers.



178 cv, 4.887 cc, motore 6 cilindri in linea con 2 carburatori SU, cambio automatico a 4 rapporti, sospensioni anteriori a ruote indipendenti con molle elicoidali e quadrilateri, e posteriori a balestre semiellittiche con regolazione degli ammortizzatori a controllo elettrico, freni a tamburo con servofreno idraulico all’anteriore e servofreno idraulico elettrico al posteriore. Passo: 3.124 mm

• L’esemplare esposto al Salone di New York del 1959
• Una delle sole tre Flying Spur prodotte con carrozzeria in alluminio, guida a sinistra, in versione “quattro luci”
• Motore, cambio e carrozzeria originali, come comprovato dalla scheda di produzione della fabbrica
• Leggero ripristino, sia meccanico sia estetico, recentemente effettuato dalla Padgett Motor Engineers
• Uno dei disegni di carrozzeria più importanti del periodo

La Bentley S1 Continental contrastava in modo evidente con la versione “Standard Steel” realizzata in casa, in acciaio, alla fine degli anni’50. Sebbene la Continental condivida lo stesso telaio e motore con la S1 di serie, è dotata di un rapporto al ponte di 2.923:1, che permette al motore sei cilindri da 4887 cc, con rapporto di compressione di 8:1, di sostenere con grande facilità, per lunghi periodi di tempo e tanti chilometri, alte velocità di crociera. La rivista Autocar ha registrato, sulla distanza del quarto di miglio, un tempo di 18.8 secondi, con una velocità media di 120,5 miglia orarie (193 km/h), nettamente più veloce delle prestazioni registrate dalla normale Standard Steel di, rispettivamente, 19,7 secondi e 101 miglia orarie (162 km/h). Non c’è da sorprendersi, quindi, che siano state proprio le eccellenti prestazioni della S1 Continental, abbinate al suo piacevolissimo aspetto estetico, a fare di questo modello la Bentley preferita dai pochi fortunati che potevano permettersela.

Ad aggiungere fascino alla versione Continental, l’ampia possibilità di scelta offerta dalle diverse carrozzerie disponibili, con cui poteva essere allestito l’autotelaio. Tra le forme più affascinanti e speciali, senz’altro la versione Sports Saloon offerta dalla H.J.Mulliner, affettuosamente soprannominata “Flying Spur” (traducibile come sperone volante), a seguito dello stemma araldico di famiglia di uno dei direttori della Mulliner. Grazie alle sue proporzioni, la rotondità delle forme ed all’aspetto sportivo e scultoreo, era una delle più belle ed ammirate S1 Continental, ed è senza ombra di dubbio la variante più desiderabile che oggi si possa trovare.

La Flying Spur veniva offerta in due versioni, a 4 od a 6 luci; la versione “Four Lights”, variante di disegno 7443/B era la più rara, ed è stata adottata solo da 14 telai di S1 Continental, tra i quali solo 3 erano dotati del volante posto a sinistra. Proprio una di queste sole tre vetture, è la macchina offerta qui: telaio numero BC41LFM.

Secondo quanto riportato dalla documentazione ottenuta dalla Rolls-Royce Foundation, questa Sport Saloon è quella utilizzata dalla fabbrica, per essere esposta allo stand della casa nel corso del Salone dell’Automobile di New York del 1959. In seguito è stata consegnata, attraverso il famoso distributore della zona di New York J.S. Inskip, a Vincent Shea personaggio tra i più prominenti di Manhattan, il quale, assieme alla moglie Madeline, era, e lo è stato per molti anni, uno dei più importanti clienti Rolls-Royce e Bentley. La copia della scheda di produzione originale, ancora riporta le affascinanti specifiche della vettura, tra cui una divertente nota a mano con la richiesta per “serrature delle portiere anti vagabondo”.

E’ durante la proprietà attuale che la vettura è stata sottoposta ad una notevole mole di lavori, sia meccanici che cosmetici, svolti presso lo specialista inglese di Bentley, Padgett Motor Engineers. Durante questi lavori, sia la vernice sia le cromature sono state ripulite e lucidate, mentre la parte meccanica ha visto l’installazione di nuove sospensioni, freni, sterzo ed impianto di raffreddamento, così come un nuovo silenziatore dello scarico. Manutenzione ordinaria ha invece riguardato cambio, linee carburante, accensione ed impianto elettrico e sono state sostitute tutte le cinghie ed i pneumatici. Al termine, è stata effettuata una regolazione completa per ottenere un perfetto risultato finale.

Questa rara, ed estremamente desiderabile Bentley Flying Spur, con la sua carrozzeria in alluminio, ben preparata, e supportata dalla documentazione rilasciata dalla fabbrica, potrà garantire al maggiore offerente nell’asta, l’enorme gioia e personale soddisfazione che sono dati dal possedere una delle prime “grand tourers” inglesi del dopoguerra.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

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