Park Ward & Co. has long been integral to the fabric of Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars. Founded in 1919, the coachbuilding firm quickly earned a reputation for impeccable style and quality, and by 1930, up to 90% of their bodies were for destined Rolls-Royce or Bentley chassis. Rolls-Royce partially acquired Park Ward in the late 30s, and by 1952 Park Ward’s styling department had moved to Crewe to be at the center of new car development.
In the early 1950s, Park Ward created some particularly attractive two-door designs for Bentley’s new high-performance R-Type Continental chassis. When the much-improved S-Type Continental replaced it at the end of 1955, they tweaked and modernized the styling to suit the revised platform. Design number 701 is an elegant two-door fixed-head coupe that shared elements of the Standard Steel Saloon but with a slimmer, cleaner, and sportier character. Park Ward made a few design variations, moving from individual taillights to integrated taillights borrowed from the saloon and altering the blind quarters with larger rear quarter lights on later iterations. While the differences are subtle, each variant has a character of its own while remaining distinctly Park Ward. Like most other Park Ward bodies on the Continental chassis, the 701 Fixed-Head Coupe was highly exclusive, with just 69 built in all.
Chassis number BC22LCH is one of only 24 left-drive “Design 701” coupes on the S-Type Continental chassis. The saloon rear lamps neatly integrated into the subtle tailfins identify this as one of the so-called Issue 2 cars. Resplendent in its original colors of Circassian Blue over Beige hides, this is a superb Continental that’s certain to please the discriminating enthusiast. According to factory records, this car was delivered in June 1957 to the Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos. Staying true to the Continental name, the billionaire businessman’s glamorous new Bentley was his vehicle of choice for his stays in Monaco and around the South of France. In 1961, Niarchos sold it to its second owner in Oxford, England, and in 1999 it was acquired by the Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialists Vantage Motorworks of Miami, Florida. It was described as a sound, original car and was sold to a new owner who initiated its restoration. When the project stalled, Vantage Motorworks welcomed BC22LCH back to their fold in 2012 and completed the restoration to their usual exceptional standards.
Shortly after completion by Vantage, the Bentley found a home with its most recent owner, who has maintained it in superb condition in his private collection. The paintwork is exquisitely finished, and the brightwork has been restored to a high standard. It sits proudly on the road, with proper color-matched wheel discs and wide-whitewall radial tires for predictable handling in all conditions.
The restoration’s quality is no more apparent than when you swing open the doors, which operate with satisfying precision. Sculpted individual bucket seats are trimmed in beige Connolly hides as per the original specification. The blue Wilton wool carpets provide a striking contrast to the leather while complementing the exterior paintwork. In addition, the woodwork is truly exquisite, with finely detailed striped banding and a glassy-smooth lacquer finish. This car is superbly equipped for comfortable long-distance touring and features a period-style Blaupunkt radio, properly ducted limousine-style air conditioning with a modern Sanden compressor, and power steering. The boot is fully trimmed in blue carpet and houses the original jack, tire pump, and associated tools.
Engine bay detailing is up to similar standards, with the inline-six finished to factory standards with black enamel on the valve cover, air cleaner, S.U. carburetor bodies. The A/C compressor and clutch-type cooling fan are worthwhile upgrades that ensure reliable, comfortable running.
There’s little doubt the S1 Continental was one of the finest cars in the world, blending meticulous engineering with old-world craftsmanship and sophisticated styling. After an early life spent in Monaco, followed by a superlative restoration, this magnificent example is back to its former splendor and remains fit for a wide range of events, concours, and cross-continental journeys.
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