Learn more about how we've made Car & Classic Auctions Covid safe

CURRENT BID: £25,000
Make a bid

1956 Bentley S1 Saloon

Guide Price: £25,000 - £30,000

Early S1 brimming with character
Only three recorded keepers
All original condition with lovely patina
Full working order with interesting history

The Background

Introduced in 1955, the S1 saw a return for Bentley towards providing cars with standardised bodywork rather than specific coachbuilder commissions, allowing the company more control over the cars leaving the Crewe factory and helping keep prices more affordable, though in Bentley parlance affordable certainly didn’t mean cheap. 

The Bentley S1 was essentially a badge-engineered Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. And no, that’s not us being cruel, because both cars enjoyed the grace of a beautiful full-width body styled by the company’s chief designer, John Blatchley.

It was a graceful and elegant style, and somehow looked more harmonious with the less fussy Bentley frontal styling – a fact reflected in the sales figures, for although the Rolls was the more recognisable car, it was the Bentley that was, in fact, the best seller. 

They were more delicate on the road than their bulk suggested, too, with power steering and a surprisingly agile chassis making light work of the 4.9-litre straight six upfront. 

The car we have here is quite an early example from 1956 – the second year of production. It’s a low ownership car, too. The current keeper is just the third recorded owner, and while the car has seen some cosmetic attention over the years it has always been carefully maintained and is largely unrestored.
IMG_0247.jpeg 2.72 MB

The History

The Bentley currently resides with its third registered keeper, an ardent car collector in Essex with a fascinating and varied collection of vehicles. He has owned the car for almost a decade after deciding he quite fancied one, having spent much of his working life at the wheel of similar cars as a chauffeur in London. 

While the history with the car is by no means comprehensive and much of the early paperwork has been lost, it does come with a few interesting artefacts that back up its history. It appears to have lived in Essex all its life, in either Romford or Canvey Island.

IMG_0380.jpeg 2.53 MB

The Paperwork

In the history file, there is an early V5 that shows the Bentley as belonging to a Mr Birchinall until 1980, when it was bought by its second keeper, a Mr Deed. There is a receipt in the car’s paperwork folder from Mr Birchinall to Mr Deed documenting its sale in a private transaction for £4,875, or about £21,500 in today’s money. 

It also comes with all of its MoT certificates from the early Eighties to the present day, which appear to back up its recorded mileage of just under 86,000 miles in 64 years. 

In more recent years, it has also seen attention from the well-known Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialist P&A Wood, which appears to have taken over the maintenance the last owner gave up doing himself in his later years.

IMG_0195.jpeg 1.92 MB

The Interior

Open the door and the first thing you notice about the Bentley is the smell. It’s a heady combination of mature wood and fine leather, and is a scent you wish you could bottle and sprinkle into your modern runabout just to make every journey a sense of occasion.

But that’s just part of the enchanting ambience of the car’s cabin, which is an absolutely glorious place to sit, whether you’re the chauffeur or sitting in the business end, where the rear seat swallows you up like a high-end sofa. 

All of the details are both delicate and beautiful, with a clear element of both quality and design going into every component. You ca study the cabin for hours and keep discovering new, delightful details. 

But what of the condition? Well, there are a few small signs of wear to the seats and door cards and one of the rear tray tables is a bit reluctant to play ball, but there’s nothing there to detract from its beauty. It’s a beautiful and relaxing place to spend time and is all original with the exception of a 1980s radio, which has been built into a cradle in the bottom of the dash and the speakers incorporated into the door bins. 

The Exterior

The owner is the first to ad it that the Bentley isn’t perfect bodily, bit there’s certainly nothing here to set alarm bells ringing. It’s solid in all of the places where it truly matters, and the only trace of rust we could find was on the bottom edge of one of the wings.

Indeed, from 10 paces the car looks immaculate and it has an adorable grace to it that makes it look sensational from any angle. 

It does have a few minor glitches, though, so you shouldn’t look at it as a concourse car (though it would probably not be too far off with a repaint). There’s a small scuff just below the nearside rear door, while there are micro blisters in the paint, most notably on the nearside rear quarter but also in smaller areas elsewhere on the body. It depends how far you’d want to go with it, because it still looks absolutely stunning as it is and to over-restore it would take away both its usability and a degree of its patina, which is that of being gracefully aged rather than at all decrepit. Indeed, we think we’d prefer to keep it as it is.

From what we could see, the underside was solid and well protected, while all of the chrome and trim are in good order.

IMG_0244.jpeg 2.42 MB

The Mechanics

It’s clear from the way it runs that this is a well-maintained car, even though the history suggests it has been looked after largely by its owners for most of the past half-century. 

The 4,887cc six fires up on the button and settles to a smooth and steady idle, while we were able to test the auto box in both forward and reverse gears with no apparent concerns. The owner assures us that it drives exceptionally well, with a superb ride quality.

IMG_0213.jpeg 1.13 MB

The Appeal

It’s a Bentley, it’s cool, it’s beautiful, it’s original and it has only had three recorded owners. Need we go on? Okay then, it’s absolutely stacked full of character – a car you want to touch, feel and smell as much as you want to drive it. It’s not perfect, but it is very, very lovely indeed and to over-restore it would almost be a shame.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

See our Terms & Conditions here.
Vehicle specification
  • Year 1956
  • Make Bentley
  • Model S1 Saloon
  • Colour Silver over Burgundy
  • Odometer 85,847 Miles
  • Engine size 4887
  • Location Essex
Bidding history
20 bids
  • al•••• £25,000 02/03/21
  • ho•••• £24,000 02/03/21
  • al•••• £23,750 02/03/21
  • ho•••• £23,500 02/03/21
  • jo•••• £23,250 28/02/21
  • sc•••• £23,000 28/02/21
  • jo•••• £22,250 27/02/21
  • st•••• £22,000 27/02/21
  • jo•••• £21,750 27/02/21
  • st•••• £21,500 27/02/21

The Gallery

 About the max bid process

The max bid process allows you to bid without any hassle.
Enter your maximum bid and we will then bid on your behalf to ensure you're the highest bidder - just enough to keep you in the lead and only up until your maximum.

About Max Bids


C&C prevent auction snipers from bidding in the last seconds to win an auction.
Auctions are extended by 10-minutes if anyone bids within the last 2 minutes to allow other bidders to react and counter-bid.

Auto-bidding increments

If your bid is below the reserve price you'll bid that amount if you are the highest bidder.
If you are the highest bidder and place a bid above the reserve we will only go up to the reserve price.
Once the reserve has been met C&C will make sure you are the highest bidder using the bidding increments stated below, keeping you in the lead up until your maximum bid.

Bid Amount Increment
£0 to £10,000£100.00
£10,000 to £50,000 £250.00
£50,000+ £500.00

Automatically outbid immediately

When you place a max bid and are outbid immediately that means that another bidder has placed a max bid limit which is higher than yours.
You can bid again and we will use our automatic bid system to try and get you as the highest bidder.

Matching max bids

When there are two max bids of the same value, the one placed first remains the lead bidder.

Watch this auction

Get notified when the auction is starting, and half an hour before it ends.