BENTLEY S1 CONTINENTAL FLYING SPUR
A bespoke coachbuilt four-door
Today’s Bentley Flying Spur owes its name to coachbuilders H.J. Mulliner, whose inspired idea to offer a four-door body on the Continental chassis created the Continental Flying Spur in 1957. The 1958 example owned by the Bentley Heritage Collection offered individual, elegant and swift travel for its succession of proud owners. It was acquired by Bentley Motors in 2004.
The S-Series Continental
The S-Series Continental couldn’t match the impact made by the pioneering R Type Continental of 1952, but it was essentially an updated and improved version of the same template, with a separate chassis, straight-six engine and bodywork by independent coachbuilders. At a time when the standard, factory-bodied S-Series Bentley saloon cost £3295, owners had to be seriously wealthy to pay more than double for an H.J. Mulliner or Park Ward version. Between 1955 and 1959 432 S-Series Continentals were bodied by specialist coachbuilders, with H.J. Mulliner accounting for 217. During the same period the factory produced 2927 standard-body saloons. The S-Series Bentley was the last to feature a separate chassis; with the arrival of the T-Series in 1965, the era of the independent specialist coachbuilder came to an end.
The four-door Continental Flying Spur
Most S-Series Continentals were two door models, but H.J. Mulliner backed a hunch that there would be a small but discerning market for a coachbuilt four-door Continental as an alternative to the factory four-door offering. Their design was balanced and elegant, with ample space for four. The new four-door was named by Arthur Talbot Johnstone, H.J. Mulliner’s Managing Director, after the heraldic device of his family, the Clan Johnstone of the Scottish Borders. The first example even featured the Clan Johnston’s spur mascot on its radiator grille. Following the success of the H.J. Mulliner Flying Spur, coachbuilder James Young also offered its bespoke interpretation of a four-door Continental.
The Bentley Collection’s S1 Flying Spur
The S1 Continental Flying Spur in Bentley’s Lineage Collection is a 1958 H.J. Mulliner model with a 180bhp 4.9 litre straight-six engine, finished in black with grey interior. This example has the optional automatic gearbox and air conditioning, and even today is capable of covering long distances in great comfort. It would have cost £8034, around ten times the average UK salary at the time. It was originally commissioned by Birmingham-based engineering firm Guest, Keen and Nettlefold (presumably as Chairman Sir William Peacock’s company vehicle), before passing into the Peacock family in 1964. Between 1973 and 1978 it was owned by J.Williams, passing to Joyce Stewart Scott-Cooper in 1978 and J.M. Donner in 1979. In 1988 it was sold by marque specialists P&A Wood to Rudolph Hahnenberger of Sweden. J.M. Donner bought it once again in 1999, and ownership next transferred to Brett Gage of Capetown in 2000. Four years later it was sold to Bentley Motors by commissioned sellers P&A Wood and has been a feature of the Heritage Collection ever since. It is gently patinated but in excellent condition and was an inspiration to the design team at Crewe when creating today’s Flying Spur.
|Date Produced||November 1958|
|Body||H.J. Mulliner four door body on Continental S1 chassis, fitted with air conditioning. Black body with grey interior.|
|Engine||6-cylinders in-line, capacity 4887cc. Pushrod overhead inlet, side exhaust valves; cast iron block, aluminium cylinder head; 7-bearing crankshaft.|
|Power||180bhp @ 4000rpm|
|Transmission||4-speed Hydra-matic automatic transmission, hypoid final drive.|
|Chassis||10’3” wheelbase chassis with steel box section x-braced frame. Independent coil and wishbone front suspension, live rear axle.|
|Dimensions||Wheelbase 10’3”; track 58in (147cm) front, 60in (152cm) rear; length 212in (538.5cm); weight 3895lb (1766kg).|
|Performance||Maximum speed 119mph.|
|Registration numbers||Now VGX 853, but also registered as AHJ 291A and VEX 853|