1963 Bentley S3 Continental Classic Review

Nov 24, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

Bentley remains one of the prestigious brands in the world, but there is nothing more exclusive or beautiful than a vintage model. The 1963 Bentley S3 Continental was the last coachbuilt model before the introduction of a standardized unitary chassis. At the time, the Bentley S3 was available in four styles—the basic saloon (four-door sedan) and three versions of the Bentley Continental.

Origins


1963 Continental Two-Door Coupe by Mulliner Park Ward [Samuel Laurence]

Bentley introduced the S3 in 1963 with a refined style that polished the luxurious image and comfort of the previous S2. The newer model was set apart by a lower radiator shell and headlights clusters and a more spacious interior, separated front seats, and a larger trunk. The S3 took full advantage of the 6.2-liter aluminum-alloy V8 engine found on the previous S2. The version of this engine was optimized for grand touring with larger carburetors, an increased compression ratio, a four-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive, a new distributor, and excellent output of approximately 200 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. This engine lets the Continental Flying Spur reach speeds of 120 mph and go from 0 to 60 in 12 seconds, compared to a top speed of 113 mph and a slower acceleration of 11 seconds for the S3 Saloons.

Coachbuilding


1962 Continental Flying Spur by Mulliner Park Ward [Carpixel]

The Bentley S3 Continental was exclusively coachbuilt, which means that the chassis was designed and manufactured by Bentley while a separate body was designed and installed by a bespoke coachbuilder. The majority were crafted by H.J. Mulliner and Park Ward, two coachbuilders owned by Rolls Royce. Later the two were merged to form Mulliner Park Ward. At the time, Rolls-Royce owned Bentley and used the same coachbuilder, and there was a similarity between some models with the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud from the same year. The two cars shared a similar body, features, and engine. This type of construction also resulted in outstanding handcrafted quality and a variety of unique styles from Mulliner, Ward, and James Young.

Continental Body Styles


1962 Continental Drophead Coupe by Mulliner Park Ward [Carpixel]

The 1963 Bentley S3 Continental was crafted in a variety of rare styles. The four-door Flying Spur was only produced by Mulliner Park Ward even though other four-door models were sometimes mistakenly identified as a “Flying Spur.” The Flying Spur had muscular curves and headlamps set astride the grille between two sculpted “spurs.” Bentley enthusiasts can recognize the distinctive Continental Coupé and Drophead Coupé with tilted headlight nacelles and smooth flanks designed by Vilhelm Koren for Mulliner Park Ward. More curvaceous models evoking an earlier style were designed by Young. In short, customers could request a bespoke design from their preferred coachbuilder. There were only 312 models produced between 1962 and 1966. The result was a rare and beautiful car that is still a valuable vehicle today, with a powerful engine and unique styling.

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