Introduced in1955 the Bentley S was the first completely redesigned production car developed by Bentley Motors Limited since the end of the Second World War. It was created as a replacement for the R type standard steel saloon, which had been in production since the mid-40s. Like its predecessor, The Bentley S still retained a separate independent chassis but featured a longer wheelbase, more generous interior space, larger boot, lighter steering and improved braking. For the early series 1 (S1) cars the straight six engine was enlarged to 4887cc and a four speed automatic gearbox was fitted as standard. The body was constructed in steel while doors, bonnet and boot lid were of aluminium.
Six months after the introduction of the standard S1, a higher performance S1 Continental model was offered, albeit only in rolling chassis form. Lightweight Saloon and Drophead bodies were constructed by a number of coachbuilders including Mulliner, Freestone & Webb and Park Ward who built the car offered here.�����������������
Ordered on 28th February 1957 this Park Ward bodied example is one of only 81 S1 Continental Drophead Coupes built and one of only 31 constructed in left hand drive. It was built to order for the Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter and delivered to her in New York on 16th July 1957. The car included a number of special features from new including power hood, wing mirrors, power steering and, being an American car, was fitted with whitewall tyres, revised lights, different summer and winter thermostats, scuttle aerial and a larger brake pedal.
Koenigswarter, who was born in the UK as Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild, had married the French aristocrat and diplomat Baron Jules de Koenigswarter before the Second World War where both of them served with the Free French forces and the Resistance. The Baroness, known as "Nica" to her friends, had first been introduced to Jazz by her brother and quickly became an enthusiast herself. When she grew bored of diplomatic life with her husband after the war, she moved to New York and began to patronize the Be-Bop Jazz movement that was emerging at the time. Renting a luxury suite at a number of hotels in New York, Nica would host many of the most famous musicians of the period and became particularly friendly with Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, who has the distinction of being the second most recorded Jazz composer ever, after Duke Ellington.
Upon its arrival in America, Nica's Bentley quickly achieved a degree of fame in its own right often being seen outside jazz clubs and transporting the likes of Monk and others who by this time were good friends of the Baroness. Numerous period press articles refer to the "Baroness of Jazz" and her Bentley, which also features in some fabulous photographs from the period.
Nica retained her beloved Bentley from new until her death in 1988 and fastidiously maintained the car as evidenced by the numerous invoices that accompany the car, many of which appear to be have been annotated by the Baroness herself. Following her death the car passed to her son who maintained it in dry, heated storage until 1995 when it was repatriated for an extensive 5 year restoration at a recognised UK specialist. In 2000 the car subsequently returned to its new owner in the United States who commissioned some additional detailing and sensitively installed modern ducted air conditioning but used the car only sparingly and hence the odometer today records just over 80,500 miles from new.
The car was acquired from its fourth owner by JD Classics in 2015 and received a JD Classics re-paint in 2016. Consequently it is now finished in its original factory colour scheme of Shell Grey with Red trim and presents in immaculate condition with full matching numbers.
Accompanying the car are the original build sheets, detailed invoices from 1957 to 1988 and many press cuttings and book extracts that mention the Baroness and her Bentley. The Bentley also participated in the 2014 Windsor Concours of Elegance.�This very rare S1 Continental Drophead provides an unrepeatable opportunity to own an immaculate and very desirable Bentley with a superb provenance and fascinating history.