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1959 Bentley S2 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward

Sold For $173,600

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Sotheby's - MONTEREY 24 - 25 AUGUST 2018


Chassis No.
Engine No.
Body No.
BC54LAR
P4055
E3729988
  • One of just 65 left-hand-drive examples of this striking modern design
  • Commissioned by Maxwell House heir J. Robert Neal
  • Equipped with rare factory air conditioning
  • Recent cosmetic and mechanical freshening
Please note that this lot is titled as a 1960.

The Bentley S2 and its fraternal twin, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, retained the basic chassis of the original S1/Silver Cloud I, but the venerable inline six-cylinder engine was replaced by a more powerful aluminum overhead-valve V-8, the first such engine built by the company. The sportier coachbuilt S2 Continental went a long way to refreshing the company’s then-stodgy reputation, rapidly achieving a “cult car” status among enthusiasts and collectors. Everyone who loved cars and driving them, and who could afford one, wanted a Bentley Continental.

Park Ward, a favored coachbuilder of Rolls-Royce and Bentley, introduced a completely new drophead coupe style for their new chassis, design no. 991. Norwegian designer Vilhelm Koren, working under John Blatcheley, adapted aircraft methods in constructing their new Continental Bentley; steel and alloy body panels were shaped with a 300-ton stretch press, and the framework was of lightweight steel and alloy construction. Particularly distinctive was the straight-through wing line and slab sides with a single chromed styling strip along the sills. At the front were peaked headlamp surrounds; at the rear was a cowled circular rear lamp treatment containing stop, tail, and reversing lights in a vertical stack. The convertible top was electro-hydaulically powered, lined with a padded cloth headliner with a zipped PVC rear window.

The example offered here was one of 65 left-hand-drive S2 Continental drophead coupes built, all to special order and many for American buyers. Its original owner was J. Robert Neal, heir to the Maxwell House coffee fortune, who apparently took delivery overseas during a European tour, as the car was ordered through Jack Barclay’s. Specially requested features included power steering, a heavy-gauge frame, and, very rare for 1959, factory air conditioning, as well as a speedometer in mph, larger brake pedal, WindTone horns, AM/FM radio, and power antenna.

Elegantly finished in a rich Midnight Blue with a luxuriant re-trimmed white leather interior accented with dark blue piping, dark blue carpeting, and dark blue Everflex top, the result is quite simply stunning. Recent mechanical refreshing carried out by marque specialists included steering, suspension, transmission, differential, braking and exhaust systems, tuning, air-conditioning, and hydraulics, as noted in documents on file. The car appears to have a replacement engine.

Coveted by all who know the marque, this is simply the best chassis, the best coachbuilder, the best body style, documented provenance, and restored to the highest standard. It is truly for the collector who seeks only the rarest Bentleys.

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