Lot 151961 Bentley S2 Continental Saloon

1961 Bentley S2 Continental Saloon
Coachwork by James Young


• Exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show when new
• One of only six in left-hand drive
• Equipped with factory air-conditioning
• Mechanically sorted and ready for tours

6,230 cc V-8 engine, twin S.U. HD6 carburetors, 200 HP, four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic gearbox, independent coil-spring front suspension, live rear axle, hydraulic front/hydraulic and mechanical rear drum brakes; wheelbase: 123”

As Bentley’s stablemate to the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, the Bentley S2 debuted in September 1959. While retaining the basic body design and chassis of its predecessor, the S1, the new S2 replaced the F-head six-cylinder engine of the S1 with an all-new overhead-valve V-8 engine, under design and development for the previous decade by the engineers at Crewe. While Rolls-Royce, Bentley’s parent firm, had long disdained publication of horsepower ratings, the new V-8 engine was estimated to develop over 200 brake horsepower and, due also to its lighter-weight all-alloy construction, made both the Silver Cloud II and S2 faster and quicker than their immediate predecessors.

Recalling the glorious “Continental” name first used in the 1930s, a flowing two-door coupé by H.J. Mulliner bearing that revered nameplate returned on Bentley’s 1952-1955 R-Type. With the arrival of the S1 in 1955, Park Ward and James Young were also enlisted as body suppliers, with Park Ward supplying Drophead Coupé bodies, while James Young provided four-door Saloon coachwork.

The higher-specification Continental variant of the S2 chassis carried on in the tradition established by the R-Type Continental of the early 1950s by offering distinctive stylistic and performance-oriented upgrades to discerning buyers. Among them were lightweight alloy body panels, a lower-profile radiator, upgraded braking with four-leading-shoe drum brakes up front, special high-speed tires and a higher rear-axle ratio applied up to ‘B-Series’ Chassis BC99BY. Of total Bentley S2 production numbering 2,308 cars, just 388 Continentals were produced. Today, each surviving example remains particularly coveted by astute marque enthusiasts by virtue of their robust V-8 power, stylistic excellence, limited production and coachbuilt elegance.

Featuring lightweight alloy coachwork by James Young, this 1961 Bentley Continental, Chassis BC5LBY, was exhibited at the March 1961 Geneva Motor Show. It was delivered new through S.A. DuGarage de L'Athenee in Switzerland for their customer, Ervin Piqueres, who selected one of what is believed to be just 36 James Young-bodied, four-door saloons, of which just six were factory left-hand-drive examples. Established in Bromley in southeastern London in 1863, James Young first built horse-drawn carriages and transitioned to automobiles by in 1908. Their first body for Bentley was completed in 1921 and by 1937, the firm had been procured by Jack Barclay, the famed London-based Rolls-Royce dealer. By the time Mr. Piqueres placed his order for this Bentley S2, James Young had long been established as one of the foremost premium coachbuilders for the Bentley brand. Among the factory options specified for BC5LBY were air-conditioning, white-sided Dunlop tubeless tires, a high-frequency horn and an electric radio antenna, as listed on a copy of the factory chassis specification sheet issued.

After spending some years in Switzerland, RROC listings show that BC5LBY had been exported to the United States and by the mid-1970s, it was under the ownership of Ralph H. Kress of New York. For the next two decades, the Bentley remained under his care until 1997. The RROC Membership Roster of 1999 then listed Richard Riegel Jr. of Delaware as the new owner, who retained the Bentley until early 2018. During 2012, the lightweight James Young-built aluminum body of BC5LBY was refinished in rich burgundy paint, handsomely complemented by tan leather upholstery, with the work performed by Hilborn Motor Car Interiors. In addition, the engine and transmission were refurbished, as were the air-conditioning and braking systems, along with installation of a new set of tires. Tools and a history file, including a copy of the factory chassis records and Schoellkopf Card, accompany this 1961 Bentley S2 Continental by James Young at auction. A splendid example throughout, this well-maintained Bentley is equally ready for enjoyment on the open road and on the show field.

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