Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sort of a Twofer Tuesday featuring British royalty!

Yes indeed! I was riding along Bergen Street where the Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, and Prospect Heights neighborhoods all meet when I just about fell over from shock. Could it really be a classic Bentley holding down some industrial parking spot?
 Ladies and gentlemen what we have here is a 1959-1962 Bentley S2 Standard Saloon. This is a truly hand-built car produced at a leisurely pace by a team of expert craftsman.
I can only imagine the sense of disillusionment that this former member of the upper class is feeling here with a brooklyn phone number filling up its back window.
The S2 was introduced in tandem with the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II to showcase a new V8 engine. These are enormous cars, weighing over 2 tons (tonnes if you will) each. The V8 was a huge improvement over the straight-6 cylinder it replaced.
No matter how beat up this example is it maintains a dignity most cars can only dream of. Bentley was its own company founded in 1919, quickly earning a reputation for building some of the fastest cars of the day. The huge early Bentleys had the primitive looks of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but tore up the racing circuit for a solid decade. The Stock Market crash of 1929 brought Bentley to its knees however, and in 1931 it was purchased out of receivership by a front company for Rolls Royce.
Bentleys and Rolls Royces of this era are 100% identical save for the badges and grill. The main middle section of the bodies were produced by the Pressed Steel Company (a British car body manufacturer still in existence; they produce Mini bodies for BMW these days). The rest of the car, including the fenders and hood, were produced by hand using traditional techniques. Each panel is signed by the craftsman who produced it so that there is full accountability should any flaws be present. On the other hand it is a point of pride to be skilled enough to build such a machine so the quality is superb.
The famous Bentley grill in its full form. They are extremely rare as you might've guessed. One was for sale recently for a cool grand.
Parking this behemoth in NYC is tough enough, but consider navigating the tiny streets of London in this ride! In person this is a car on an architectural scale.
These two winged B emblems harken back to Bentleys early racing history. The fact that the hood ornament retains its rightful position tells me that this probably gets parked inside at night.
All original hubcaps are present.
Such an insult to be appropriated as an advertisement!
Now we're getting real. Hand built or not that quarter panel is gutted with rot. The rub with cars of this stature is that maintaining them to a high standard is costly and requires somebody who specializes in your make and model. A $300,000 new Bentley very quickly becomes a $80,000 Bentley, and the slide can continue until it's just not worth it to most owners.

I love that the old European plates are still on the car. The AAA sticker on the left is relatively straightforward, but the DAS emblem on the right is a bit of a mystery to me. From what I can gather this car might have spent time in Germany as that's the closest I could find to a description of DAS. Looks like the bumper is partially held on with that blue vinyl strap.
The trunk is truly massive. If you're the owner of this car and you go on a trip it's expected that you won't be traveling lightly.
Hopefully this beast gets patched up at some point.
One last look at this piece of former royalty in its current setting. Now as soon as I rode off I found another black Bentley a block away!
Who knows if it's the same owner? I doubt it, but what are the chances that there are 2 black Bentleys of any vintage on a stretch of Bergen Street that looks almost entirely industrial? This is enough for me to declare it Twofer Tuesday; Bentley edition!
Next up; something definitely not handmade or terribly special I'm sure.

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