1961 Bentley S2 Continental Drophead Coupe

The name Design #991 may not conjure images of wind-in-the-hair motoring along the French Riviera, yet the shape created by Vilhelm Koren for Park Ward & Co. was easily one of the most glamorous bodies to grace an S-Series Bentley. The refreshingly clean form is defined by a single, continuous belt line sweeping from the tip of the headlamps to the subtle tailfins at the rear. The slab sides are free of heavy swage lines and extraneous chrome, and a neatly integrated folding top looks elegant, whether up or down. Designed specifically for the high-performance Continental chassis, the car was a significant break from tradition for both the coachbuilder and Bentley, whose bosses found it too advanced for their conservative tastes. It almost got rejected by Bentley, but the head of styling at Park Ward pressed for its inclusion in the catalog and thankfully succeeded. Today, Park Ward’s S2 Continental Drophead looks as sophisticated as ever and remains one of the most sought-after of all the coachbuilt S-Series Continentals.

Chassis number BC79 LBY is one of 65 left-drive S2 Continentals clothed in Park Ward’s crisp two-door drophead coupe coachwork. Factory records show this car was delivered to its owner in April 1961 to Mr. C.P. Stevenson of Buffalo, NY via J.S. Inskip Motors of New York City and finished in black with a beige hood and green interior. The chassis card lists numerous unique features, including a power-operated hood, electric windows and aerial, radio, whitewall Dunlop Roadspeed tires, Marchal headlamps, and a heavy gauge chassis. Subsequent owners included Mr. Herbert Swan in the 1970s, and it came into the most recent owner’s care in 1985. Shortly thereafter, he handed it over to Kent Bain and his team at Automotive Restorations in Stratford, Connecticut, where it received a full repaint in its original shade of Mason’s Black, a new interior in tan Connolly leather, a new beige Everflex hood, and a thorough mechanical freshening. It has since lived a charmed life in the owner’s private collection, and the restoration has aged gracefully over the years.

With its beautifully matured restoration, BC79 LBY is a marvelous example that invites regular enjoyment. The black paintwork remains in excellent condition and is glossy and attractive all around. Similarly, the brightwork and bumpers are in fine order, showing only some light polish marks on the otherwise excellent plating. It rides on whitewall tires and full wheel covers with body-color bands as originally equipped.

To suit the modern new styling, the cabin featured an uncharacteristically driver-focused layout. Park Ward moved the instruments and major controls to a binnacle in the driver’s line of sight, and the seats redesigned with long-distance, high-speed motoring in mind. This car’s interior is faithfully restored with Connolly leather, Wilton Carpet, and wool broadcloth headlining and is well detailed with excellent chrome fittings and hardware. The upholstery shows some character from age and enjoyment yet remains supple and attractive throughout. Similarly, the woodwork has a pleasing luster, with a few minor imperfections consistent with age. Details like the original radio, electric aerial, power hood, and electric windows are in place. Plush, yet sporting and sophisticated, it’s easy to imagine a long day spent behind the wheel – top-down and motoring along in impeccable style.

It is in excellent order mechanically and is the perfect choice for casual touring or participation in a wide range of driving events. The engine compartment is orderly and very well presented, with proper finishes and detailing on the 6.2-litre V8. “Adequate” power goes to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic gearbox. A detailed history file with build records, restoration receipts, and restoration photographs will accompany the sale. Also included are original handbooks, coachwork handbook, and the boot-mounted tool kit.

Coachbuilt Continentals are the most coveted of the S-Series range, and the gorgeous Park Ward drophead ranks near the top of the charts in terms of style and desirability. The lovely example offered here has been in the care of one dedicated enthusiast for over 35 years and is prime for regular enjoyment in the hands of its next caretaker.


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