Rolls-Royce's six-cylinder engine, as used in the Bentley Continental, had effectively reached the end of its development by 1959. The power output of approximately 160bhp was more than sufficient, but facing increasing competition from faster rivals, Rolls-Royce sought out an improved power unit to deliver more speed while retaining the Continental's refined performance. The answer was the adoption of an all new V8 engine displacing 6,230cc and producing an estimated 200bhp, a power increase of 25%. It had been developed at Crewe for some years prior and was an immediate success. The V8 was constructed almost entirely in aluminium and weighed around the same as the S1 Continental's engine, but featured hydraulic tappets to ensure quieter running. A few other mechanical aspects were modified, including the braking and lubrication systems, with automatic transmission and power steering now standard, making the Bentley S2 Continental a motor car capable of speeds approaching 120mph.
H J Mulliner was responsible for bodying the majority of S2 Continentals (221 cars) with Park Ward contributing 125 and James Young 41. The example offered here, chassis number 'BC1AR', is the very first Bentley S2 Continental to be completed. Featuring sports saloon coachwork by Hooper & Co, it is the only S2 Continental bodied by this most celebrated of British coachbuilders. Indeed, the body of 'BC1AR' would turn out to be the final one produced by them. The Continental was displayed on the Hooper stand at the 1959 Earls Court Motor Show and was first owned by the Rank Organisation Ltd.
'BC1AR' was first acquired by Frank Dale & Stepsons in the 1980s when purchased from the second owner. It was restored at Frank Dale & Stepsons' Hammersmith workshops and then supplied to a large collection in Japan. The restoration works included the car being repainted in silver and re-trimmed in St James' red leather. New grey carpeting bound in matching red leather was fitted also and all of the interior woodwork was restored to show condition. The car was mechanically prepared and fitted with air conditioning at the new owner's request. Following restoration the car remained in Japan for some years before returning to London. It was subsequently supplied on three separate occasions by Frank Dale & Stepsons, once again to a Japanese collector in the early 1990s and on two further occasions to English collectors. A Becker Mexico stereo complete with built-in satellite navigation has been fitted more recently.
The Bentley comes complete with its original handbook, while period-correct small tools will be supplied upon purchase to complement the original large tools. Checked, prepared and tested by Frank Dale & Stepsons immediately prior to sale, the car is offered with sundry restoration invoices, a UK V5C registration document and fresh MoT certificate.
'BC1AR' is a car of great historical importance, being Hooper's Earls Court Motor Show car of 1959, the first S2 Continental built, the only S2 Continental with coachwork by Hooper and the last body they ever produced. James Crickmay owned a number of S-Type Continentals over the years, with 'BC1AR' one of his favourites. It was listed as being the fastest S2 Continental built in a number of reference books, a statement he took great pleasure in putting to the test on the roads around London and the Surrey countryside.