‘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. The V8 engine, with its flashing acceleration, certainly contributes to the result and is a definite step forward in Rolls-Royce technique.’ – Autosport.
The Continental version of the Bentley remained, as ever, exclusively a coachbuilt car. The firms of H J Mulliner, Park Ward, James Young and Hooper (with a solitary example) all offered 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 purchased H J Mulliner in 1959 and two years later the firm was merged with Park Ward, which had been acquired in 1939. The car offered here is a rather early example of Park Ward’s influential ‘straight through wing’ body style.
Bentleys of this era were always bought by illustrious clients, and this example is no exception. The S2 was purchased from new by the entrepreneur John Bloom, best known for his role in the “Washing Machine Wars” of 1962-64 when he drastically reduced prices by direct sales that cut out the retailers. His company Rolls Razor made great inroads into the market but several manufacturers obtained injunctions to stop them selling at below the fixed retail price. Bloom was a controversial figure whose aggressive techniques shook up a complacent market but who gave new power to the consumer.
Bloom was seeking a Rolls Silver Cloud III Drophead Coupe at the time, however as supply was so limited he resorted to purchasing the Bentley version and sending it back to the factory to have the appearance altered to that of the comparable Rolls Royce of the time. Later the Bentley was owned by the very popular and highly successful pianist Russ Conway, who was a feature of the UK Singles Chart between 1957 and 1963. Ownership passed subsequently to the Managing Director of Bristol Motor Cars, who had the S2 converted to Left Hand Drive specification and shipped to the United States, where it stayed for many years.
Our vendor purchased the car and repatriated it into the UK, sympathetically restoring the S2 to the beautiful example you see here today. Chassis BC67BY was returned to its original Bentley S2 specification, and painted in Steel Grey, with a retrimmed grey leather interior. The current Left Hand Drive format has been retained, though it would be straightforward to convert the car back to Right Hand Drive if desired.
Offered with a UK V5 registration document, this unique Continental is genuinely a very special example of one of the finest post-war Bentley coupes.