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The ex-Sir Elton John and Lord Sugar 1959 Bentley S1 Continental Sport Saloon

Sold for £366,666.67 inc. premium
Lot 119
The ex-Sir Elton John and Sir Alan Sugar
1959 Bentley S1 Continental Sport Saloon
Coachwork by HJ Mulliner

The ex-Sir Elton John and Lord Sugar
1959 Bentley S1 Continental Sport Saloon

Coachwork by H J Mulliner
Registration no. 490 JLC
Chassis no. BC1BG

*Unsurpassed style and luxury
*One of 431 S1 Continentals
*Known ownership history
*An older restoration (by Weybridge Automobiles)
*Maintained and serviced by Chelsea Workshop

'The most beautiful car, I think, that's ever been designed', Sir Elton John CBE, April 2001


Bentley's magnificent Continental sports saloon has been synonymous with effortless high speed cruising in the grand manner since its introduction on the R-Type chassis in 1952. Unlike the ordinary, factory-bodied, 'standard steel' R-Type, the Continental was bodied in the traditional manner and first appeared with what many enthusiasts consider to be the model's definitive style of coachwork - the lightweight, wind tunnel-developed fastback of H J Mulliner.

The Continental's performance figures would have been considered excellent for an out-and-out sportscar, but for a full four/five seater sedan they were exceptional: a top speed of 120mph, 100mph achievable in third gear, 50mph reached in a little over 9 seconds and effortless cruising at the 'ton'. Built for export only at first, the Continental was, once delivery charges and local taxes had been paid, almost certainly the most expensive car in the world, as well as the fastest capable of carrying four adults and their luggage. 'The Bentley is a modern magic carpet which annihilates great distances and delivers the occupants well-nigh as fresh as when they started,' concluded Autocar.

With the arrival of the final generation of six-cylinder cars - the all-new Silver Cloud and Bentley S-Type - the Continental lost some of its individuality but none of its exclusivity. Eulogising about the new S-Series cars, introduced in April 1955, The Autocar wrote, 'the latest Bentley model offers a degree of safety, comfort and performance that is beyond the experience and perhaps even the imagination of the majority of the world's motorists.'

Later, in October that same year, the Bentley Continental became available on the 'S' chassis. 'It brings Bentley back to the forefront of the world's fastest cars,' Autocar remarked of the H J Mulliner-styled fastback which, arguably, was the quickest four/five-seater saloon of its day. The S-Type's new box-section chassis incorporated improved brakes and suspension and an enlarged (to 4,887cc) and more powerful version of the existing inlet-over-exhaust six-cylinder engine, which for the first time was identical in specification in its Rolls and Bentley forms. The Continental version came with shorter radiator and higher gearing and, for a time at least, could be ordered with right-hand 'change, manual transmission. As had been the case with the original R-Type, the new S-Type Continental was only ever available as a coachbuilt car, the designs produced by independent coachbuilders for the S1 Continental chassis being among era's the most stylish, although – arguably – none ever improved on H J Mulliner's sublime original.

This 'modern magic carpet' was sold new to one H Madi, of Hale, Cheshire in June 1956 and first registered 'RXK 10'. Factory records note that it was ordered finished in Shell Grey with dark green interior trim. Mr Madi kept the Bentley in the UK for nine months before it was shipped to Gambia in the spring of 1957. The car's subsequent history can be ascertained from ownership changes recorded in both Rolls-Royce's company records and its old green continuation logbook. It would seem that its sojourn in Gambia lasted approximately six months, for by September the car had returned to the UK, being registered 'FKJ 1' on September 19th 1957. Via four further owners it passed to a Colonel Fetherstonhaugh, of Anglo-Europe Ltd in 1963 and ten years later, while still in their custody, was reregistered '490 JLC'.

The Bentley was acquired by Elton John (now Sir Elton John) in 1976 and in the early part of his ownership was consigned to Weybridge Automobiles for a comprehensive restoration including a bare metal re-spray, complete refurbishment of the interior, and attention to the mechanicals as and where necessary. In keeping with the requirements of its owner, power-assisted steering, air conditioning, and a modern stereo system were fitted during restoration.

The Bentley was carefully maintained as part of Sir Elton's collection for the next 25 years before being sold to its next celebrity owner, entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar (as he then was) in 2001. '490 JLC' was serviced by famous Rolls-Royce/Bentley specialists P & A Wood immediately after acquisition and continued to be maintained by them, covering only some 1,000-or-so miles while in Lord Sugar's care.

In December 2007, Lord Sugar offered the Continental for sale at Bonhams' Olympia auction (Lot 603) where it was sold to a new owner. A few years later, the car was purchased by Chelsea Workshop, which sold it to the current vendor around two years ago. Chelsea Workshop has serviced the Bentley since 2011, as evidenced by bills on file totalling over £30,000.

Freshly MoT'd and serviced by Chelsea Workshop prior to sale, this wonderful car is offered with the aforementioned continuation logbook, copy chassis cards, a V5 registration document, and sundry service invoices and expired MoTs relating to Lord Sugar's period of ownership.

Saleroom notices

The Bentley is a 1956 example and NOT 1959 as catalogued.

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  • 1 December 2017, 09:00 - 17:00 GMT
  • 2 December 2017, 09:00 - 14:00 GMT

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