1960 Bentley S2
Year of manufacture1960
Number of seats2
A fully restored example
1960 Bentley S2 Continental Sports Saloon
Coachwork by H J Mulliner
Registration no. 182 UYR
Chassis no. BC127AR
Described by The Autocar as, 'A new stage in the evolution of the post-war Bentley,' the 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. With the arrival in 1955 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. Dependable though it had proved, Rolls-Royce's six-cylinder engine was nearing the end of its development. At the same time the company was facing increased competition from faster rivals in the vital United States market, and it was, principally, these two factors that prompted the switch to V8 power as the 1960s approached.
Introduced in the autumn of 1959, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II and Bentley S2 appeared externally unchanged from their Silver Cloud and S-Type predecessors, though their performance was considerably enhanced by the new 6,230cc aluminium-alloy engine, which produced approximately 25% more power than the old six. 'The Bentley S2, with its sister Rolls-Royce models, gives high-speed travel in silence and luxury, while the driver and passengers enjoy the sense of well being that only British craftsmanship can give,' enthused Autosport. 'The V8 engine, with its flashing acceleration, certainly contributes to the result and is a definite step forward in Rolls-Royce technique.' There were few significant changes to the running gear, though power-assisted steering was now standard and the manual gearbox had been dropped, Rolls-Royce's own four-speed automatic transmission being the sole offering.
The Continental version of the Bentley remained, as ever, exclusively a coachbuilt automobile. The firms of H J Mulliner, Park Ward, James Young and Hooper (with a solitary example) all offered hand crafted bodies on the Continental S2 chassis, which differed from the standard version by virtue of its four-leading-shoe front brakes, shorter radiator and, up to chassis number 'BC99BY', higher gearing. Of these four, James Young and Hooper would soon cease coachbuilding, leaving only Mulliner and Park Ward to carry on a noble tradition. Consolidating its in-house coachbuilding capability, Rolls-Royce had purchased H J Mulliner in 1959 and two years later the firm was merged with Park Ward, which had been acquired in 1939. Of the 388 S2 Continentals made, 222 were bodied in styles that originated with H J Mulliner and 125 with those of Park Ward.
Described as 'arguably the best looking' by Martin Bennett' in his book 'Bentley Continental', the S2 version typically cost some 40% more than the equivalent standard steel saloon and was the preserve of a privileged few. The S2 Continental represented the ultimate in luxury travel for the sporting motorist, affording a fast yet comfortable journey for four people and their luggage to glamorous destinations such as the Côte d'Azure and St Morritz.
Representing the pinnacle of bespoke taste in its day, 'BC20CZ' was supplied new in August 1960 to the famous biscuit manufacturers, McVitie & Price Ltd and first registered as 'EGT 5'. It was delivered for the use of Hector Lang, CEO of McVitie & Price's parent company, United Biscuits. Unusually, Lang had all his cars fitted with a compass, this one's being still in place and working.
The immediately preceding owner purchased the Bentley from a private collector in Austria, who had owned it for some 15 years. Prior to that it had been in an Austrian museum for ten years. Following acquisition, the then owner's company carried out a complete 'last nut and bolt' restoration to show condition. Stripping off the paint revealed that the body was in excellent condition, very straight, and it was then treated to a full bare-metal re-spray in attractive Tudor Grey, with coachlines hand painted by Terry Cramp. The front bulkhead and under-bonnet area were repainted in the correct khaki colour, and the engine bay and underside fully detailed.
The engine and transmission were rebuilt, and the chassis, body, brightwork, and running gear all fully restored. The interior has been re-trimmed in black leather, while other noteworthy features include new European walnut veneers by Silver Crest, new grey West of England cloth headlining, a new windscreen, and a full stainless steel exhaust system. In excess of £120,000 was spent on the restoration. Related bills are on file, and the car also comes with a V5C Registration Certificate. The current vendor purchased the Continental at Bonhams' Goodwood Revival Sale in September 2017 (Lot 292), since when it has been kept garaged.
Presented in show condition, 'BC127AR' represents a rare opportunity for the discerning collector to acquire a beautifully restored example of this stylish and exclusive model.