Lunaz Design, a British company that restores classic cars and replaces their aging engines with electric motors, has revealed what it claims to be the rarest car to undergo such treatment.
Just four examples of the 1961 Bentley S2 Continental are believed to exist, making it the rarest classic car to be converted from internal combustion to electric power, Lunaz says. A lengthy restoration process saw the car returned to its former glory, and its 6.2-litre V8 engine replaced with a battery pack and electric motor.
Instead of using the motors of an existing electric car, like a Tesla as some restoration companies do, Lunaz fits its cars with an electric powertrain designed by the company itself. Based in Silverstone, close to the Formula One circuit in Northamptonshire, the company also restores and electrifies classic cars from Aston Martin, Jaguar, Range Rover and Rolls-Royce.
The Bentley S2 Continental dates from a time when it was common for vehicle manufacturers to produce the chassis of a car, including the engine and drivetrain, then leave the bodywork and interior to a coachbuilder, who would produce something to the customer’s specification.
Lunaz says that, according to build sheets for the car, its first owner commissioned a four-door body from a London coachbuilder called James Young. However, the buyer later changed their mind and opted instead for a two-door.
Built in 1961, the car was sold to its second owner in 1967 and later belonged to owners in Germany and Japan before returning to the UK.
Lunaz says the car as been restored to “concours-standard” and has undergone an upcycling process that focuses on sustainability as well as restoration and electrification. The car is first 3D canned, then stripped back to the bare metal and restored. Anything that can’t be reused, like the nylon in the seatbelts, is recycled and the engine is removed.
This is replaced by a bespoke electric drivetrain that produces 400 horsepower and 530 lbs-ft of torque, accelerating the Bentley to 62mph (100km/h) in 6.9 seconds – far quicker than it would have ever gone in period. To compensate for the extra power, Lunaz fits contemporary suspension and brakes.
Inside, the leather is made from hides that are tanned using naturally-fallen olive leaves and the carpet is made from “100% regenerated” nylon fibre, with a backing made from recycled plastic bottles.