1961 Bentley S2 Continental ‘Survivor’ two-door coupé by H.J. Mulliner was chauffeur-driven
A two-door car is an odd choice for anyone intending to ride in the back, but that was the role chosen for this exquisite 1961 two-door coupé by H.J. Mulliner. It was ordered with some interesting features, most notably a removable head-rest on just one side of the rear seat – the nearside – where the first owner also had a reading light fitted. Why choose such an arrangement over a limousine, a standard saloon or a four-door Flying Spur? Perhaps the appeal of the two-door Continental, probably the most expensive new car in the world, provoked the greatest pride of ownership, or perhaps the owner simply fell for the looks.
We could understand the latter quite easily, especially nowadays: the highly original form in which the car has survived is stunning. It’s with Ranmore Service and Engineering in Surrey, where Jonathan Tait has been able to drive it quite a bit to assess its condition. ‘Mechanically, it’s tip-top. It had a lot of work that didn’t quite amount to a full mechanical restoration, but everything required was properly tackled and it drives beautifully now. It will cruise effortlessly at 80mph – where that’s legal – and the brakes and handling are perfect. It’s the cosmetic condition that I really like though; the Mist Green paint is patinated and flat, but the chrome is very good, while the interior is nicely mellowed. The carpet has been renewed and nothing else is required, really.’
The House of Commons Green hide looks supple and worn-in, but undamaged, and while the dash veneers are crazed with age in some places, that’s the appeal you have to buy into. Freshly restored cars are lovely, but a ‘survivor’, well-used but equally well-lookedafter, has something you can’t reproduce. This car also boasts its original Manshell parking lights to the front wings and a Hershmann electric aerial, though the radio-cassette player is a couple of decades younger than the car – another footnote in its long story. The odometer reads 28,000, which Jonathan assumes is once round the clock. Wouldn’t you love to have the pleasure of adding many more thousand miles to this supremely useable grand tourer? The only obstacle is the £235,000 asking price, but compared with values of fastback S1 and R-type Continentals, it’s a snip!
Photos: Them Studio