1964 Bentley S3
Year of manufacture1964
Number of seats2
The property of Jools Holland, OBE, DL
1964 Bentley S3 Two-door Convertible
Registration no. LKK 244B
Chassis no. B482EC
Facing increasing competition from faster rivals and with development of its ageing six-cylinder engine nearing its end, Rolls-Royce had turned to V8 power as the 1960s approached. The V8 was, of course, the predominant power unit in Rolls-Royce's most important export market - the USA - so it was only natural that the Crewe firm would study the best American designs - principally those of Chrysler and Cadillac - for inspiration. Introduced in the autumn of 1959, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II and Bentley S2 appeared externally unchanged from their 'Cloud and S-Type predecessors, though the duo's performance was considerably enhanced by the new 6,230cc aluminium-alloy V8 engine. Although wider and shorter than the 'six' it replaced, the new power unit fitted relatively easily within the engine bay, relocation of the steering box from inside to outside of the chassis frame being the most obvious alteration to the previous arrangements. Externally the new models appeared virtually unchanged, while beneath the skin Rolls-Royce's own four-speed automatic transmission was now the only one on offer and power steering had been standardised.
In 1962 the new V8 engine appeared in improved form in the Bentley S3 and its Rolls-Royce equivalent, the Silver Cloud III, incorporating larger carburettors, a new distributor and raised compression ratio. There were many other changes made to the S3/Cloud III, the most obvious being the adoption of a four-headlamp lighting arrangement, the absence of sidelights from the wing tops, and a slightly lower radiator shell. Inside the new models featured revised accommodation with separate front seats and increased room for rear passengers. The last mainstream Bentley to employ a separate chassis, the S3 remained in production until superseded by the unitary construction T-Series in late 1965.
"The size and grandeur of the car... deceive one about the performance which would do justice to many a car of more sporting pretensions. The finish, both in detail and the broader sense of equipment and trim is superb." Motor was, in fact, referring to the Silver Cloud III, but its words, of course, apply equally to the Bentley S3.
The pre-eminent coachbuilt Bentley at this time was the expensive and exclusive Continental; nevertheless, the option remained of having a bespoke body made for the 'ordinary' S3 chassis by an independent coachbuilder, though only two S3s were completed in this way in period. The Bentley S3 we offer was built as a Series-E saloon and delivered new to Ripon Brothers in Yorkshire where its first owner was Captain C Roberts, MBE. First registered on 6th May 1964, the car was finished Tudor Grey with green interior trim, while other original features included electric windows and combined parking/indicator lights. It is not known when or by whom the conversion into a two-door convertible was carried out, though it has been accomplished exceedingly well. The body is strong and does not shake when in motion or around the door hinges, while the slide catches in the front seats allowing them to tip forward for rear access are well detailed. Other noteworthy features include air conditioning, picnic tables in rear of front seats, radial tyres (spare appears new), front seat belts, Kenwood radio/CD stereo system, large tools and small tools (all fitted).
The Bentley is finished in Masons' Black with matching mohair hood and canvas hood bag, while the interior is trimmed in tan leather with matching carpets (all serviceable) and black over-mats. Both the paintwork and brightwork are in good condition. The circa 58,000 recorded mileage total is believed to be genuine, and we are advised that this outstanding car drives as good as it looks.
Used sparingly in recent years, this unique soft-top S3 is offered with a partial history file containing a (copy) green logbook page, a V5C Registration Certificate, and receipts and expired MoTs dating back many years. It should be noted that the cherished registration 'RNB 5' is being retained.