Helmut Newton’s Bentley is to fetch an estimated $1.6 million at auction. The S-Type Continental is one of 26 examples combining a left-hand-drive configuration and coachwork by H J Mulliner.
In the world of post-war automobiles, Bentley’s S-Type Continental quickly became one of the most elegant profiles ever penned. The classic S-Type Continental is also among the most collectible post-war cars produced by Bentley, only giving place to its predecessor, the R-Type, of which only a few more than 200 models were manufactured from 1952 to 1955. With their box-section chassis, both R- and S-Type Continentals were all made with coach-built bodies featuring designs by companies comprising H J Mulliner, Park Ward, James Young and Hooper.
For the S-Type Continental, H J Mulliner bodied 218, whilst Park Ward provided the coachwork for 185 of the 431 total examples manufactured from 1955 to 1958. Powered by a 4.9-litre straight-six engine that created about 178 hp, the fastback designed by H J Mulliner was, according to renowned British magazine Autocar, the fastest four/five-place saloon of its day. The limited range produced during the post-war era provides an insight into the significance of the sale of Helmut Newton’s 1956 Bentley Continental. The car will be offered at the Zoute Sale by Bonhams on October 8th in Belgium.
It is one of only 26 left-hand-drive examples of the S-Type two-door saloon created by H J Mulliner, chassis No. BC4LBG was requested new by Societe Anonyme des Automobiles Peugeot for Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Peugeot. Thus further highlighting the popularity of Bentley’s S-Type Continental during the 1950s and how sought-after the range was.
Its most renowned owner by far was Helmut Newton. The photographer was born in Berlin in 1920 before settling in Australia in the late 1930s. Newton achieved extraordinary fame working for Harper’s Bazaar and both British and French editions of Vogue, quickly becoming well-known for his provocative images of female models. The photographer’s status has been elevated further since his death in 2004.
A copy of Newton’s autobiography will accompany the sale in which he documents the time when he collected his beloved Bentley and drove it home “in a state of complete euphoria”. Newton further explained how he always aspired to own a Bentley but lacked the resources until he purchased one in Paris in 1964 following a large payout from a photography project.
In the present day, the vehicle is completed in silver with a cognac interior, which is reported to have been reupholstered by Hermes during the 1980s. The first engine, No. BC4B, was rebuilt in 2011 and has recorded fewer than 3,000 km since the new installation.
Additionally, the sale will also comprise a signed copy of Newton’s iconic coffee-table book Sumo, the large-format limited edition published by Taschen. The Bentley, with its storied origin and flawless state of preservation, is set to be a hit in Belgium this October and pay tribute once more to one of fashion’s greatest photographers.