Lot 179 - 1962 Bentley S3 Continental Drophead by Park Ward
|Odometer reading||99,000 miles|
|Estimate||£255,000 - £280,000|
- One of 27 right hand drive examples manufactured
- Fabulous condition with great history
At the London Motor Show in 1959, Rolls-Royce Bentley Motors introduced their all-new 6.2-litre V8 engine with the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II and Bentley S2 models. A classic configuration of pushrod overhead valves, central camshaft and crossflow heads, the block and cylinder heads were alloy, and the fuel mixture was delivered through two horizontal SU HD6 carburettors. A new development of the engine arrived in 1962 with the third generation S series, mounted on the Silver Cloud III and S3.
The last vehicle penned by noted Norwegian designer Vilhelm Koren, the Bentley S3 featured an impeccable harmony of clear lines and well-balanced proportions, with a straight through wing line and hooded headlamps; at the rear, the wing line extended in a finned style over a neat cluster of taillights, in a style the famed Bond-era Aston Martins later adopted.
The headlight styling of S3 Continentals earned them the sobriquet of 'Chinese Eye' models, or ‘Chinese Lanterns’, as referred to by Sir Elton John, one of the most famous owners of the model. Except for the adoption of quadruple headlights, it was difficult to differentiate at first glance between the S3 and previous models; however, there were numerous minor changes, one being a lower radiator shell resulting in a more pronounced shape in the bonnet line.
The improved engine of the S3 delivered a compression ratio of 9:1, which resulted in 220 bhp and a top speed close to 120 mph. Yet the car still afforded four luxuriously upholstered seats and a power-operated top that was as shapely as any fixed head coupé on the market. Once lowered, the hood disappeared behind the rear seats; and the electric power windows and rear quarter-lights retracted to create the most elegant of open-top four-seaters. This is a car that glides effortlessly and with considerable grace wherever you choose to point it.
To bring the design into full production, Park Ward relied heavily on the methods that they had used in aviation work with extensive use of welded steel for the frame and panels, thereby creating an extremely strong, single bodywork structure.
The S3 Continental chassis was the swansong for the finest creative efforts of the specialist coachbuilders and was the last Bentley to have a separate chassis. The final chassis rolled off the production line in 1966 and the term ‘Continental’ was not then used on any subsequent Bentley model for decades.
The Bentley S3 Continental drophead coupé is indeed a very rare vehicle. From a total production run of just 58, only 27 were made in right hand drive form; and the car we have here was the very first to be built in that production sequence. Resplendent in Shell Grey metallic with Scarlet red leather interior, this fabulous luxury drophead is one of the finest examples of this model on the market today. It comes with copies of its original order sheet, showing that the colours it bares today are indeed the same as when it left the factory and was sold for the princely sum of £9043 from Jack Barclay of Berkley Square, London. Interestingly, the car also comes with its ‘Construction and Test Records’ book designated to this particular car. A truly magnificent motor car which is breath takingly good looking and has all the elegance which British design and engineering could muster in 1962. In its history file it contains its Bentley owners handbook, Jack Barclay purchase invoices, copies of order forms, Bentley work notes, additional archive information, period brochures, supplements and drawings support its more recent and usual servicing and works invoices. This particular Bentley had the auspicious accolade of being the showpiece in the rotunda of the RAC Club Pall Mall last year. Fabulous!
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