A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £36,000
As the sixties approached, Bentley turned to V8 power as a way of keeping up with its luxury rivals, especially in America. A radical change was on the cards in 1959 as Bentley felt their faithful straight-six engine was getting a bit 'long in the tooth' and in the search for a more modern power unit, they turned to the General Motors inspired 6,230cc all-aluminium V8. The new engine was an entirely new departure for Bentley and caused some consternation amongst traditional Bentley customers, however, in execution, their worries were short-lived, as the new power unit delivered more performance with unparalleled smoothness, setting the standard for the rest of the century and ultimately the 'S2' set the benchmark for others to follow.
The extra power produced by the V8 enabled the Bentley to now exceed 110 mph, with an incredible 0-60 time of 10.9 seconds. Visually, the new model was near identical to the previous six-cylinder, but with a 120 mph speedo now fitted and a more suitable smaller steering wheel, as power steering was standardised - as was fully automatic transmission, electrically operated ride control and redesigned and more flexible heating and fresh air ventilation. Most Bentley S2s carried factory 'Standard Steel Saloon' coachwork, satisfying the company's commercial requirements, and in total 2,308 Bentley S2s slid quietly through the doors of the Crewe works.
The example on offer is quite likely to be the best 'original survivor' to exist worldwide. Supplied new to a Harley Street resident and first registered on 17th June 1961, initially carrying registration number RNO 3, it first changed recorded ownership in 1968, although this might be from company ownership to the, still same, private owner, when studying the accompanying Jack Barclay service books. These alone make fascinating reading and the car certainly was very busy in its first few years. In relation to services on record, the mileage of 4,348 was recorded on 3rd January 1962, 6,771 on 5th April 1962, a 'B' type service was carried out on 11 July 1966 at 36,738 miles, a "25,000-mile service" carried out on 20 February 1968 at 45,050 miles and the final entry in the books - all by Jack Barclay - is a '5,000-mile' service on 9th July 1970 at 49,718 miles.
Whatever the actual position, it's recorded that it entered the Kingham family's ownership in 1968 and it is quite possible that the registration 7000 PP was then applied. The family were to keep the car for the next twenty-six years and it was cherished and always garaged - perhaps explaining the incredible interior condition - and led a very relaxed life, possibly with the exception of the school run with the children, who affectionately christened the car "Elephant's Breath" due to its dark grey colour. It's incredible to note, that from July 1970 to May 1994, just a further 6,902 miles were added in those intervening 24 years.
It was sold by the family, still in totally original condition, through Christie's Collectors' Motor Cars sale at Beaulieu Sale on 14th May 1994 - original catalogue on file - and our vendor first purchased the car immediately post-sale. Sold soon after to a close friend, on condition it would one day return, the next owner was John Nicholls, a well-known pioneer collector of the most original cars to survive and well before any Concours 'preservation class' existed. Via our vendor, John commissioned three-generation Bentley specialists, Sargeants of Goudhurst, to fully recommission the car, after some nine years in storage. This was completed on 5th September 1995, with the mileage then being just 56,620 from new. The cost of this work was just below £5,000 - over 30% of the car's, then-recent, £14,500 purchase price! Mr Nichols rarely drove the Bentley, as it was in a collection of almost 50 cars at the time, all stored in a Central London waterside warehouse. True to his word, our vendor was able to repurchase the Bentley in September 2002. A tiny mileage had been added, as confirmed by a 4th September 2003 MOT Certificate displaying a figure of 56,873 miles. Another close friend of Mr Nichols, Robert Jewers, had also fallen in love with such an original car and purchased it from our vendor for £19,750 on 25 May 2004, with the same repurchase rules applying! A new MOT was issued on 18th November 2004, with the mileage then at 57,255. Mr Jewers was the first owner to enjoy the Bentley on the roads and took the mileage up to 59,071 with the last MOT on file, dated 8 October 2013. Again, true to his word, our vendor then re-acquired 7000 PP for the collection on 5th March 2014.
The accompanying history file is incredible. The original Jack Barclay service documentation books are still in their original Bentley Motors envelope, from when the car was supplied new. There are tax discs showing continued use from July 1977 to 1980, then '84-'85, then a gap to 2004, to then run continuously through to November 2013. The original service and handbooks are also present, together with the full original tool kit.
Immediately prior to the sale, the Bentley was dispatched to marque experts, West Hoathly Garage, who carried out a full engine service, flushed out the cooling system and reported that the car is running and driving extremely well and that just a slight weep from the brake master cylinder and a seized parking brake cable would prevent a fresh MOT Certificate being issued, a small matter which still needs to be rectified - not surprising after six years on proud display in our vendor's collection.
In summary, we feel this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire perhaps the best Standard Steel Bentley saloon to exist and in a fantastic and totally original colour combination.