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 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, 'BC25BY' was supplied new on 14th January 1961 via Jack Barclay of Mayfair, London to Mr Percy Levy, director alongside George Cohen of the 600 Group. The latter was a UK-based multi-national conglomerate with diverse interests that included steel making, engineering and various other enterprises, which took its name from its first address in London's East End: 600 Commercial Road.
Much admired for its exceptionally original 'time warp' condition, this un-restored car is finished in Mist Green with fine silver coachlining and House of Commons Green Connolly leather interior. Other noteworthy features include electric windows, a rear seat headrest and a sunroof, the latter a very rare option, while the near-side rear seat's detachable head roll enables the occupant to read using the map light with legs outstretched on the folded passenger seat (another special order feature).
Currently in the hands of only its second (family) owner, 'BOM 600' has been cared for and maintained to a high standard over the years while preserving its originality. During the present owner's stewardship the Bentley has been serviced exclusively by marque experts Specialist Cars (South West) Ltd in Exeter. Major works undertaken include rebuilds of the original engine and rear axle. Offered with sundry bills, current MoT/tax and UK V5 registration document, this un-restored S2 Continental represents a rare opportunity for the discerning collector to acquire a well-preserved example of this stylish and exclusive model.