1961 Bentley S2 Continental Flying Spur Saloon

Launched at the 1959 Earls Court Motor Show, the second installment of the Bentley S-Type brought several refinements designed to improve performance and drivability over the previous generation. The so-called “S2” ushered in a new era for Rolls-Royce and Bentley, marking the end of the venerable 4.9-liter inline-six and welcoming the new all-alloy V8 which sustained the marque well into the 2000s. Aside from the distinct power advantage over the six-cylinder, the 6.2-liter V8 engine was shorter in length and lighter overall thanks to its alloy construction. While Bentley and Rolls-Royce rarely published output figures, the new V8 was at least 20% more potent than the outgoing six, all while providing customers with the kind of refinement and sophistication they demanded.

With Bentley designated as the more sporting of the sister marques, the driver-focused Continental returned as an option for the S2. Like before, the Continental offered a modest boost in performance and was sold as a bare chassis only with no specific body style defining the model. Crewe left that task to independent coachbuilders including Hooper, James Young, H.J. Mulliner, and Park Ward among others. The construction of the chassis was primarily the same as the standard car, excepting a taller rear axle ratio, (2.92 vs. 3.08), four-shoe front brakes, and a lowered steering column and radiator to accommodate more aerodynamic bodies. Much of the performance gain came through the fitment of lighter, sportier coachwork.

Once again, H.J. Mulliner offered buyers the stylish “six-light” Flying Spur, known internally as Design 7508. Designers subtly tweaked the shape to give a sensation of lightness and speed. Notable to the S2 Flying Spur is the radiator shell – gently canted forward to suggest forward motion even when parked. Compared to the baroque-style Standard Steel Saloon, the Flying Spur was like a finely tailored suit, with crisp lines, taut curves, and exquisite proportions. Mulliner used aluminum alloy, for most of the body panels, with steel strategically added for strength. Bentley produced approximately 388 S2 Continental chassis, and of those, just 113 were H.J. Mulliner-built Flying Spurs. The sophisticated styling captured the essence of the Continental name, and the H.J. Mulliner Flying Spur continues to be among the most desirable of the entire Continental range.

This beautiful Bentley S2 Flying Spur is chassis BC39BY, one of just 64 right-hand-drive examples built by H.J. Mulliner. Chassis records indicate the first owner was Sir Eric Merton Miller, a hugely successful yet controversial English property developer. Before a financial fraud scandal destroyed his reputation, life was good for Sir Eric, having worked his way out of a childhood of poverty to become a powerhouse in the British real estate business. He was not shy about enjoying the fruits of his labor, keeping expensive cars and lavish properties. Our research shows Miller ordered his new Bentley Flying Spur early in 1961, taking delivery in March that year. He specified the car with pushbutton electric windows, power aerial, and a gold-plated mascot to complement the sand paintwork and beige interior. The final flourish was the personalized registration, “1 EMM.” Little else of the car’s early history is documented, and Sir Eric died at age 50 in 1977.

Today, BC39BY is a wonderful example, wearing an attractive older restoration. The current livery suits the lines of the coachwork, with lower panels finished in dark green, accented with a pleasing light sage-green on the upper surfaces, and straw-colored coach stripes. The car is very attractive, with a deep luster to the paintwork and consistent panel fit. The chrome and polished brightwork are excellent, and the car sits properly on the road on factory steel wheels with color-keyed wheel covers. Some blemishes are visible in the paint finish and bodywork, primarily along the line where the two colors meet, but despite these minor shortcomings, the car has a pleasing character that welcomes regular enjoyment on the road.

The cabin features tan hides on the seats and door panels, presented in very good condition, with an inviting quality. The seating surfaces are clean, supple, and consistent with the car’s older but well-maintained restoration. Wool carpeting, optional mouton mats, and the headlining are in similarly tidy order. The extensive wood trim is excellent, appearing mostly original with gorgeous veneer and just the slightest dulling of the lacquer the door caps from sun exposure. An aftermarket radio currently sits in the dash in place of the original, and period-appropriate rear air-conditioning ducts are fitted to the parcel shelf. The car includes the original jack and a factory tool kit, still in-situ in their rightful spots in the boot.

Build records confirm this car retains the original, matching numbers V8 engine. It presents in good, honest order, showing signs of use and maintenance since the restoration. A modern-style rotary A/C compressor provides more efficient running and improved cooling ability, yet most of the remaining ancillaries and fittings appear to be period correct or original.

As presented, this Flying Spur would be a superb choice for vintage driving events, given its inherently sporting nature, luxurious appointments, and robust mechanical nature. The Mulliner Flying Spur stands as one of the most attractive post-war Bentleys, and useable examples such as this remain in demand by devoted enthusiasts worldwide.

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