A cousin of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, the Bentley S2 debuted in September 1959, carrying an all-new, powerful aluminium overhead-valve V-8 engine. While Rolls-Royce, Bentley’s parent firm, had long disdained the publication of horsepower ratings, the new V-8 was estimated to produce about 185 horsepower and, due to lower weight, made both the Silver Cloud II and S2 faster and quicker than their immediate predecessors. Remarkably, this basic V-8 engine design would continue in use for over 60 years, until the modern Mulsanne ceased production in 2020. The S2 also introduced power-assisted steering as standard and featured a GM/Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmission; a manual gearbox was no longer available.
As before, a Continental variant was offered, with higher compression for better performance, a shorter radiator profile, upgraded braking, a higher rear axle ratio, and custom coachwork produced in limited series by Park Ward, H.J. Mulliner, and James Young. Total S2 Continental production was limited to a mere 2,308 cars, of which only 97 were the two-door Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner, 71 in right-hand drive.
Our car is accompanied by wonderful documentation, including a copy of the original purchase order placed to Berkeley Square agent Jack Barclay by F&A Parkinson Ltd., an electrical engineer and manufacturing firm in Guiseley, Leeds, for their principal, Albert Parkinson. Succeeding Mr Parkinson’s previous Continental, the car was finished to match in two-tone Nile Green over Sage Green with red Connolly leather interior and equipped with power windows, electric aerial, as well as Richmond-type safety harnesses for the front seats.
Records indicate that the Bentley was delivered in February 1961 and remained with Mr Parkinson for exactly six years, at which point it was sold back to the Jack Barclay agency. The second known owner, A.C.G. Billam of South Croydon, Surrey, acquired the car from Paddon Brothers in 1977, and it was maintained in their ownership by numerous marque specialists, including P&A Wood, for several years.
Today, this wonderful Continental has been painted to a high standard in Brewster Green, perfectly complemented by fine hand painted Red coach lines whilst retaining its remarkably well preserved original leather interior with wonderful suppleness, and spectacular original woodwork that presents as fine furniture. Both the original chassis and body plates are still present in their expected locations, as are the original Mulliner sill plates. The engine compartment and chassis have been well looked after and are thoroughly detailed. The car makes for a truly beautiful 1960s Grand Tourer and owing not only to its extreme rarity being one of 97 cars ever built but also excellent driveability. The lightweight coachwork combined with its impressive power make it fast even today and exceptionally easy to drive.
Gentlemen enthusiasts adore the S-Series Continentals today as much as when they were new, for their wonderful “magic carpet” road feel, their ability to devour long distances in single bounds with great comfort and more than adequate power. Many surviving examples have been fully re-trimmed, and while that is desirable, there is a special aura about an example that still retains its beautiful original interior. This is one such car, and it deserves a new caretaker who will drive and enjoy it in the manner for which it was intended. Next stop: the Riviera!