‘The latest Bentley model offers a degree of safety, comfort and performance that is beyond the experience and perhaps even the imagination of the majority of the world’s motorists.’- Autocar 1964.
Bentley Continentals were all coachbuilt vehicles, the British coachbuilders of the day that bodied the majority of the cars being H J Mulliner, Park Ward and James Young who all offered bodies on the Continental S2 chassis. The Continental chassis 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 wing line, would continue on the Continental S3. As was in vogue at the time, think Farina's Ferrari 330GT or Fiat 2300 Lusso, slanting quad headlight nacelles were introduced on the H J Mulliner Park Ward-bodied Continental, giving rise to this model’s ‘Chinese Eye’ moniker. Headlamps aside, the most significant change was to the S3’s engine, which boasted an increased compression ratio and larger carburettors, modifications that raised peak power by around 7%.
This delightful right hand drive 'Chinese Eye' is one of only 75 S3 Continentals bodied by H J Mulliner, Park Ward. The car was delivered new in 1965 and comes with paperwork that includes notes and letters from previous owners detailing the purchase prices over the years. Finished in deep metallic burgundy this particular Continental S3 was subject to a sensitive rebuild several years ago by the current owner in his own bodyshop. The result is a car that presents nicely and retains its originality. The owner uses the car sparingly and it is currently part of his extensive collection of interesting machines. As can be seen in the photographs, the Continental was used for his daughter's wedding before returning to storage. There are a few age related marks and blemishes to the paint which arguably could be tidied up, but we feel they don't detract...and if anything would encourage the new owner to use this S3 regularly without the worry associated with using a freshly restored car in the city.
The interior quite possibly still has its original cream leather which has a lovely patina. This is not a Continental in show condition but rather an S3 with a nicely mellowed interior that welcomes like an old friend. The wood is tidy and the overall interior condition suggests a car that has been well used but also well maintained over the years. In short, a very comfortable and stylish place to be, we have the feeling getting stuck in traffic wouldn't be a chore in a Continental.
The Continental has been mechanically well maintained over the years and used sparingly. There are bills stretching back to the 1970s, detailing maintanence and rebuild work, this is not by a complete dossier but rather a snapshot of work with marque specialists carried out as and when needed. Recent routine maintenance work has been carried out by its current garage owner at his own premises. We are informed by the vendor that the car drives well and is ready for the next owner to enjoy. As always we recommend inspection and the owner is happy to make the car available for inspection on site by appointment.
In summary, this elegant and understated Park Ward Bentley S3 Continental is delightful. Just the right amount of patina with room for light improvement in some areas if the new owner chooses. You would be happy using this car with the family and not being too concerned if you had to wipe crayon off the hide. These MPW Continentals make excellent long distance touring cars as they are so easy to drive and supremely comfortable. We would be just as happy driving this one to Salcombe for a weekend of sailing as we would pootling around London. The Chinese Eye Continentals are a shrewd buy at the moment and with a guide of £75,500 to £85,500 this particular car would be a canny purchase for the man who likes to travel in classic Bentley style safe in the knowledge that even in the current Brexit climate Continental prices could well be heading only one way. Eclectic desirable? Absolutely.
Model: Chinese Eye
Length Owned: 4 Years
Estimate: £75,500 to £85,500