Rolls-Royce and Bentley launched 1955 the optical nearly identical models Silver Cloud and S1, a luxury sedan whose base remained almost unchanged until the end of production of Silver Cloud III and S3 in 1966. Thanks to a separate chassis, it was possible for various coachbuilders to realize their own concepts next to the works bodies. Bentley produced 57 examples of the S2 Long Wheel Base of which six were given own bodyworks. One of them was ordered by the agent of an anonymous customer at New York dealer J.S. Inskip – with the address of New York Yacht Club. Very unusual, since normally the names and addresses of the first owners were noted in the order books of Rolls-Royce and Bentley, next to the individual configuration of their cars.
Chassis number LLBA9 was sent as a bare chassis with steering on the left and the well-known eight-cylinder engine with 6.2 liters capacity at the request of its new owner to Germany, more specific to the company Wendler Karosseriebau. Wendler is actually better known for the bodyworks of Porsche 550 Spyder, 718 RSK, 718 RS61 and some 356s they have manufactured. However, the company existed since 1919 and created various streamline designs for BMW, Ford and Mercedes-Benz. For the mysterious, anonymous Bentley customer they already built a very special estate version of the Mercedes-Benz 300 d ‘Adenauer’ (W189) before. At the factory such a conversion was rejected at that time.
As a successor for his Mercedes-Benz Shooting Brake its owner again asked the Stuttgart based factory for a conversion based on their new modelrange W111/W112, which was immediately rejected again. After that he had the unique idea of a Bentley Shooting Brake – probably together with the team from Wendler. The coachbuilder used a lot of Mercedes-Benz parts such as the doors, trim and headlights. Roof, bonnet, fenders and tailgate were created by hand, with the rear preserving the little tail fins of the Mercedes. Underneath, however, they mounted the round rearlights of a Buick. Inside one can find the finest red leather and oak wood around the central instruments, at the door cards and on the boot floor behind the down opening tailgate. That there was practical thinking for car design already in the 1960s is proven with the foldable rear bench, which contributes to a flat cargo area.
Despite his extravagant vehicle the owner actually remained anonymous and donated the Shooting Brake after a few years to a car museum (of course anonymous). Sometime in the 1970s the museum sold the car overseas. In the 80s it returned to New York and in 2012 an extensive nearly two-year restoration began at Automotive Restorations Inc in Stratford/Connecticut. After the car was shown at some Concours events in the US, it is now for sale with Hyman Ltd. The classic trader asks 575,000 US$ for it.
Images: Hyman Ltd