1961 Bentley Continental - Toybox

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars magazine

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bentley front bentley front
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Old world coachbuilders meet what was then a new alloy V8

AT RISK of stating the bleeding obvious, you really do enter another world when you contemplate a car such as this. We’re talking of a hand-built very low volume machine: one of 125 dropheads made, of which 63 were right-hand-drive.

Park Ward was the coachbuilder in this case and arguably did a more elegant job with the dropheads than its chief rival Mulliner. Ironically both firms ended up in the hands of Rolls-Royce, which of course owned Bentley during this period.

Under the bodywork and paint, you get a version of the S2 chassis. Its greatest leap forward was the adoption of the then new Rolls-Royce alloy V8, which was to serve the company for decades to come.

This was a significant departure from the big straight sixes that helped to make Bentley famous.

The Continental version of the S2 chassis was the more ‘sporty’ variant, with a lower radiator that allowed a little extra freedom for the body designers, four leading shoe front brakes and (as this is one of the earlier numbers) higher gearing.

In reality this may be a definition of ‘sporty’ that doesn’t gel. Weight was hardly a critical consideration, given these cars were still packed with good solid walnut finish (though you could order something bespoke) and of course the best hides and carpets for the interior.

Performance for these giant two-doors was typically described as adequate with good reason. Though not exactly a tyre-frying package, the 6.2lt V8 was capable of belting across the countryside at an eye-opening rate.

For enthusiasts, Bentleys of this generation may have lost a little of their sporty edge – garnered during the racing heyday of the marque during the 1920s and 1930s – but they were still very much their own brand rather than Rolls-Royce clones.

Because of the tiny build numbers and the substantial world-wide following for these cars, the history of individual examples tends to be well-known. For example, this one is said to have undergone what would have been an extensive restoration with Rolls-Royce specialist Roger Fry. Since that time it’s been with specialists such as Paradise Garage in Sydney.

Everything suggests this example has led a pampered life over recent decades, which means you’re a long way from facing the daunting prospect of a restoration. It’s with Lorbek in Melbourne and is priced at $498,000

 

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