Lunaz Design has unveiled the rarest classic car ever to be transformed to fully electric power.
Dating from 1961, this specific Bentley S2 Continental is one of only four examples built. In its original specification, it was powered by a 6.2-litre V8 petrol engine. Today, now completely restored and reimagined, it’s equipped with Lunaz’s in-house designed proprietary modular electric powertrain, which comprises high-grade Tier 1 OEM battery cells and motors.
The latest in a series of luxury classic cars to undergo the company’s proven upcycling process at its facility in Silverstone, UK, previous projects include models from famous names including Aston Martin, Jaguar, Range Rover and Rolls-Royce.
This specific example was built in 1961. In period, a small number of luxury car bodies were still being produced by independent coachbuilders to the customer’s specification, on a ‘rolling chassis’ supplied by Bentley or an other manufacturer. According to the build sheets, the first owner initially commissioned a four-door body from leading London coachbuilder James Young; but he evidently had a change of heart at the last minute, since research shows the car has only ever existed in its present two-door form.
In 1967, the car changed hands for the first time. Over the decades that followed, it would reside with various owners as far afield as Germany and Japan before returning to the UK. The Bentley Continental was always the rarest S2 variant – the Standard and Long Wheelbase versions represented more than 80% of the total number produced – and today, this specific car is one of only a handful left in the world.
All Bentley S2 variants were powered by the then-new ‘L’ Series 6.2-litre V8 engine, made from aluminium alloy for an improved power-to-weight ratio. This ensured the engine could sustain the power demands of automatic transmission, power steering and air conditioning with no loss of performance.
The car body is then stripped down to a bare metal shell and returned to as-new condition using traditional coachbuilding and restoration techniques. Any external and internal materials are repaired and recoated: anything that can’t be reused, down to the nylon in the seatbelt cord, is recycled.
The internal combustion engine and its associated systems, lubricants and other fluids are carefully removed and reclaimed, then replaced with Lunaz’s proprietary fully-electric powertrain. The modular design, developed entirely in-house, allows engineers to adjust individual components to perfectly reflect the car’s innate character, and the owner’s personal preferences. The battery cells, inverters and motors are all original equipment made to Lunaz’s specification by European Tier 1 suppliers, as used by OEM carmakers.
Other vital systems, including brakes, steering, suspension and electrics, are all given Lunaz Design’s full modernisation treatment to bring them into line with the dynamic expectations of the customer as well as current safety standards.
As specified by the client, the fully electric Bentley S2 Continental is now equipped with a clean-air 400 bhp powertrain, producing 530 lb-ft of torque. 0-62 mph is achieved in 6.9 seconds. To ensure handling capability in line with contemporary standards, suspension is uprated to a fully adjustable coil-spring suspension with a lever arm damper. This is configurable electronically from the cabin of the car. Likewise, its brakes, which also incorporate a battery regeneration system, have been upgraded to six-piston calipers in the front and four-piston variants in the rear.
In its new incarnation, the Bentley retains its luxurious character; but in keeping with its zero-emission powertrain and Lunaz Design’s culture of upcycling, the interior now incorporates a much higher proportion of sustainable materials than the original.
All seat leather is made from hides tanned using naturally-fallen olive leaves, the carpet in the front and rear cabins and boot is made from 100% regenerated nylon fibre and incorporates a backing made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Similarly, all the wood veneers used on the dashboard and other areas are from sustainable sources, certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).