For Bentley and Rolls-Royce, the star of the 1959 London Motor Show was their first all alloy V8 engine in both the Bentley S2 and its cousin, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II. The engine produced about 200 bhp (Bentley and Rolls would never quote horsepower figures, preferring to state that it was ?adequate?) and, by virtue of its alloy construction, weighed the same as the 4.8-liter six-cylinder engine it replaced. The result was a smoother, more powerful ride.
Bentley also offered the S2 in the elegant "Continental", the highest specification of the chassis. Although quite similar to the standard S2, the Continentals featured upgraded brakes and a higher rear axle ratio to handle the more demanding requirements for high speed cruising on the European continent, with its more modern motorways. Continentals were consistently faster, quieter and more comfortable than standard production cars.
Most S2s carried factory "Standard Steel Saloon" coachwork, which satisfied the company's commercial requirements, but not necessarily those of all its customers. For those preferring something more exclusive, Bentley and Rolls were still offering bespoke coachwork, which was executed by and large on the Continental, as opposed to the standard S2 by H.J. Mulliner and Park Ward. Both coachbuilding companies were owned by Rolls-Royce.
Park Ward was entrusted with the development of an open S2 Continental. The design of the resulting Drop Head Coupe was created by Vilhelm Koren of Norway, who reportedly impressed Rolls-Royce brass with a stunning Alfa Romeo at the Turin motor show. In a marked yet widely acclaimed departure from Continentals of years past, Koren's design employed a straight wingline, vestigal rear fins and new headlamp openings. Only 125 of these S2 Continental Park Ward Drop Head Coupes were ever built, 62 of which were left-hand drive. In the time these Park Ward S2s were built, Rolls-Royce had merged H.J. Mulliner and Park Ward into one new entity: Mulliner-Park Ward.
The blue car in this gallery, chassis BC99LCZ, was owned by Wilt Chamberlain, the famous NBA basketball player for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors.
Sources: WWW, RM Auctions & www.charlescrail.com
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