Bentley S3 Continental

Built alongside the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud 3 (and virtually identical to it) the four-door luxury Bentley S3 saloon, which first saw the light of day in 1962, was a successful and popular car. It was grand, stately, and looked as though it should have been conveying a British aristocrat in the back, with a liveried chauffeur in the front. What really caught many people's eye, though, was the S3 Continental variant.

These were strictly coach built with bodies by Mulliner Park Ward (Rolls-Royce having taken over HJ Mulliner and Company in 1959, and merging it with Park Ward, which they had owned since before the Second World War) and there was a choice of bodies including the most popular ones which were fixed head or drophead coupe configurations.

With 6.3 litre V8 engines producing 205 brake horsepower these were reasonably fast with a top speed of around 115 miles an hour but with the hood down they felt a lot faster! Despite that it was still a luxurious car with all the presence and stateliness that was to be expected from a car built by Rolls-Royce.

The bodywork was constructed entirely in aluminium, instead of the steel which the standard S3 was made from, which gave a considerable weight saving and coupled to a higher compression ratio and higher gearing this made for a faster car altogether.

Price however was a major problem. Continentals cost between 40 and 50 percent more than the standard S3 – which was itself already a very expensive car for the day – and although it attracted a lot of attention only 311 were ever sold. This compares to around 1300 sales for the standard S3.

Their gorgeous looks and rarity have made them very collectable however; Continental drophead coupes can fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds, whereas a standard S3 can be bought for much less.

Next: The Bentley Turbo R

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