1963 Bentley S3 Continental Drophead Coupé

Since its debut on the R-Type chassis in 1952, Bentley’s iconic Continental sports saloon has been synonymous with effortless high-speed cruising. Even as the final generation of six-cylinder cars arrived in 1955 (the S-Type), the Continental maintained its exclusivity if not its distinctiveness. This trend continued with the introduction of the V8-powered S2 in 1959. While the S2 retained its familiar exterior appearance, its performance received a substantial boost from the new 6,230cc V8 engine. Power-assisted steering became standard, and manual gearbox options were phased out in favor of Rolls-Royce’s four-speed automatic transmission.

The Bentley Continental was exclusively available as a coachbuilt automobile, with H J Mulliner, Park Ward, and James Young offering bodies on the Continental S2 chassis. Notably, the S3 featured quad headlamps, with many H J Mulliner and Park Ward-bodied models sporting slanting nacelles, earning them the nickname ‘Chinese Eye’ models. Fog lights were retained, but their function as indicators was replaced by redesigned sidelights on the front wings.

1963 Bentley S3 Continental Drophead Coupé

The most significant S3 update was its engine, boasting a higher compression ratio, larger carburettors, and a Lucas vacuum-advance distributor, resulting in a 7% power increase. Improved power steering facilitated parking, while smaller bumper over-riders and a slightly reduced radiator height gave the S3 a sloping bonnet line and improved visibility. Standard features included individual front seats, armrests, enhanced lighting, and additional indication lights and switches on the instrument panel, giving the S3 a more modern feel. The S3 is considered the ultimate post-war Bentley in terms of appearance, performance, and practicality, and it was the last medium-sized Bentley offered with custom coachwork.

1963 Bentley S3 Continental Drophead Coupé 1963 Bentley S3 Continental Drophead Coupé 1963 Bentley S3 Continental Drophead Coupé

Source: Bonhams