19-20 January 2017
Offered from a Private Collection
1965 Bentley S3 Continental Drophead Coupe by Mulliner Park Ward
- Chassis no. BC176XC
Sold for $167,750
- Offered from a private collection
- One of only 76 examples built
- The most modern styling on the S3 Continental chassis
- Older restoration by Charles Agapiou
Described by The Autocar as “[a] new stage in the evolution of the post-war Bentley,” the magnificent Continental sports saloon became synonymous with effortless high-speed cruising in the grand manner after its introduction on the R-Type chassis in 1952. With the arrival of the final (S-Type) generation of six-cylinder cars in 1955, the Continental lost a little of its individuality but none of its exclusivity, and this trend continued after the arrival of the V-8-engined S2 in 1959. Although the S2 appeared externally unchanged, its performance was considerably enhanced by the new 6,230-cubic centimeter aluminum-alloy V-8 engine. Power-assisted steering was now standard and there was no longer the option of a manual gearbox, Rolls-Royce’s own four-speed automatic transmission being the sole offering. The striking Continental also gained a drophead coupe model, 15 of which were constructed by coachbuilder H.J. Mulliner.
The S3, introduced in 1962, brought subtly updated styling on the standard sedans, quad headlamps, and less prominent bumper guards. The sidelamps and directionals moved from their classic perch atop the fenders to the leading edge.
The Continental’s changes were less pronounced, in many respects. The Bentley Continental was, of course, exclusively a coachbuilt automobile. The firms of H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward, and James Young all offered bodies on the Continental S2 chassis, which differed from the standard version by virtue of its four-leading-shoe front brakes, shorter radiator, and, up to chassis number BC99BY, higher gearing. By far the most striking of the S2 Continentals were those bodied by Rolls-Royce’s in-house coachbuilder Park Ward, and this design by Norwegian Vilhelm Koren, with its influential continuous front-to-rear fender line, would continue on the Continental S3. Quad headlamps were the S3’s major styling innovation, and on the Mulliner Park Ward-bodied Continental they were contained in slanting nacelles, which generated some controversy.
Bentley S3 Continental chassis number BC176XC is one of just 76 drophead coupes bodied by H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward Ltd. after the two firms merged. A right-hand-drive example, it was previously owned by Gregory Gill, president of Los Angeles realty giant Matlow-Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy sold it to John I. Lichfield in 1990. The car was then restored by Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialists Charles Agapiou, Ltd., of West Hollywood in 1995. It was repainted and the interior was reupholstered in beige Connolly leather with deep red piping matching the Regal Red exterior. The engine, transmission, and brakes were overhauled at this time as well. Although now older, the restoration has held up well and the paint and brightwork show only minor flaws; the seats, while exhibiting use, show no significant wear and tear. The odometer shows fewer than 20,000 miles. Cockpit equipment includes a Kenwood cassette stereo radio.
A wonderful grand tourer, this S3 Continental has many luxurious road miles ahead for its next proud caretaker.
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