1960 Bentley S2 Continental Coupé Coachwork by James Young Chassis no. BC27AR Engine no. P236
'In the twilight of their coachbuilding years, James Young had with these cars reached the pinnacle of excellence.' - Martin Bennett, Rolls-Royce and Bentley. In the 1950s and 1960s the Bentley Continental was the world's ultimate Grand Tourer, a car in which you could set off from any European capital in the morning and arrive at Monte Carlo fresh enough to play the tables that same evening. With the arrival of the V8-engined version in 1959, this consummate ability was further enhanced. The V8 was, of course, the predominant power unit in Rolls-Royce's most important export market - the USA - so it was only natural that the Crewe firm would study the best American designs - principally those of Chrysler and Cadillac - for inspiration. Introduced in the autumn of 1959, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II and Bentley S2 appeared externally unchanged from their Cloud and S-Type predecessors, though performance was considerably enhanced by the new 6,230cc aluminium-alloy V8 engine. Although wider and shorter than the 'six' it replaced, the new power unit fitted relatively easily within the engine bay, relocation of the steering box from inside to outside of the chassis frame being the most obvious alteration to the previous arrangements. Externally the new models appeared virtually unchanged, while beneath the skin Rolls-Royce's own four-speed automatic transmission was now the only one on offer and power steering had been standardised. Despite the popularity of the 'standard steel' bodywork, introduced when production of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars resumed after WW2, a steadily declining number of independent coachbuilders continued to offer alternatives. Arguably the most stylish were those produced to clothe the Bentley Continental which, of course, was only ever available with bespoke coachwork. One of the most prominent of these surviving firms was James Young, a company that had established itself among the foremost coachbuilders for upmarket chassis by the end of the 1930s. The Bromley-based carriage-maker had bodied its first automobile in 1908, affiliating itself with a succession of quality marques throughout the 1920s and 1930s before being acquired by the Jack Barclay Group in 1937. Its factory devastated by wartime bombing, the company did not resume exhibiting at the London Motor Shows until 1948, continuing to offer coachbuilt designs of distinction on (mainly) Rolls-Royce and Bentley chassis until the arrival of the unitary construction Silver Shadow/T-Series range in the 1960s. A lack of suitable chassis would force the firm's closure before the 'Sixties decade ended, but in its declining years James Young produced what are widely recognised as its finest creations, this beautiful two-door Continental among them. In total, James Young bodied 41 S2 Continental chassis, completing five in this particular style, of which this car is believed to be the sole survivor. The current vendor purchased the Continental at Bonhams' Monaco Sale in May 2008 (Lot 113) at which time it was French registered. A right-hand drive example, the car benefits from a gearbox overhaul carried out in 2006 and is described by the vendor as in generally good condition mechanically, though in need of a service, with 'fair' bodywork, paint and interior in need of refurbishment. UK import taxes have been paid.
The Carte Gris and import paperwork is not present for this car.