Published: 04/26/2018 16:04:27 PM
About: Black and Silver Sand Exterior, Tan Interior, Automatic, 6.23L V8.
RCC Motors is pleased to offer this stunning 1963 Bentley S3 Sedan. Purchased new by Academy Award winning actress Gloria Swanson. This car retains its original vanity plate, the very first one ever issued in California, thanking the people for her Oscar win for best Actress. The plate simply reads “THANKS”. A left hand drive Bentley S3 is a most uncommon sight, anywhere in the World. Cognescenti of the marque will be quick to point out that by 1963 Bentleys accounted for less than 39% of all motorcars manufactured on Pym’s Lane in Crewe, and only a handful of left hand drive examples for “the rest of the World” were assembled each month. Priced at ₤5,384.00 in 1963, the Bentley pictured here did cost as much as a dozen Volkswagen Beetles, a price proportional to the quarter Million Dollars a new Bentley costs today: It’s still the equivalent of a dozen New Beetles. The third and final generation of the design that premiered at the Earl’s Court Motor Show in 1955, S3 Bentleys are recognizable by their twin dual headlamps and reshaped turn signal units. All S3s are powered by the famous 6.23- liter V-8 aluminum alloy engine. One of the most famous trademarks in history, the Flying B proudly adorns the radiator shell of every S3 ever built. Founded by W.O. Bentley in 1919, the factory’s cars achieved worldwide fame by winning the grueling 24 hour race at Le Mans four consecutive times in the late 1920s, laying the foundation for a performance image that lasts to this very day. Only 1,286 Bentley S3 models with a body by Pressed Steel of Cowley were built in three years of production, a minority of those in lhd guise. The John Blatchley-penned bodywork featured many traditional elements of design, and the company was rather proud of this fact. The S3 can rightfully be regarded as the final evolution of the H.J. Mulliner style and has matured into a most desirable Classic of the highest caliber. Bentley saloons were almost invariably ordered with carefully coordinated dual color schemes, this one–finished in Mason’s Black over Silver Sand–being a particularly pleasing example. The dashboard certainly lives up to its name, being wall-to-wall wood. Not any wood, mind you, only the finest burl walnut was painstakingly finished by hand to create the singularly impressive look of opulence, unmatched even by the Bentley’s fiercest contemporary competitor, the Mercedes 600. Black dash pad is made of finest leather, of course. Accoutrements include electric window lifts, heated rear window, SUNDYM tinted glass, a pull-out tray below the fascia (far more stylish than mundane cupholders), and even–via a remote switch on the steering column–adjustable rear damper stiffness. Bentley’s classic, aircraft-style white-on-black SMITHS gauges have been immaculately preserved and are in full working order. The sun visors and wool headliner are still original and very nice. Quality and detail of the burl wood throughout the cabin is stunning. There is no faded, discolored or cracking veneer anywhere, nor is there any water damage. Generous legroom abounds, as demonstrated by a rather long-legged driver. CONNOLLY-clad leather seats are ultra plush and individually adjustable, with retractable dual center arm rests. The original leather still exudes the unmistakable and mesmerizing aroma you’ll only find inside a Rolls Royce or Bentley. A close-up reveals the fine condition of the hides and their irreplaceable sculpturing; after 38 years of service, this amazing automobile still displays all that’s right with superior British coachbuilding and supports the manufacturer’s claim that a Rolls Royce or Bentley motorcar will last a lifetime. The extremely thick front doors feature neat cocktail cabinets, and the little clinking sounds caused by the delicate crystal during acceleration remind of a bygone era, when wealthy folks would deign to sip a little Scotch in their Bentley during a trip to the country manor. Dual vanity mirrors on the C-pillars are exquisitely finished and feature indirect lighting as well as a built-in cigarette lighter. Below the center-hinged, aluminum bonnet, the powerful, cast aluminum V-8 presents itself immaculately clean, down to the last (correct) detail. Featuring a nitride-hardened crankshaft with five main bearings, for the S3 the compression was raised to 9.0:1. Larger, two-inch twin SU HD8 carburetors were fitted. Needless to say, with only 34,690 miles on the odometer, the Bentley’s heart beats strongly, yet silently, due partly to hydraulic valve lifters. Transmission is the virtually indestructible but nonetheless sophisticated GM/RR Hydramatic 4-speed automatic. The Bentley S3 is a driver’s car, its majestic appearance notwithstanding. Equipped with the superior V-8, independent front suspension (IRS) and all the power amenities one could wish for, with generous legroom and an elevated seating position, on par with SUV operators, the S3 is perfectly suited to glide through traffic. Once seated, one enters the realm of the untouchable, a dimension apart from the profanity of ordinary life. Driving Bentley’s finest is a vacation from the harshness of work and life; everything happens silently and without the need to confirm. More understated than a Rolls Royce, albeit of the same gene pool, a Bentley respectfully represents, not bluntly in any way. On a mere mechanical level, this Bentley drives as splendid as you would expect it from a well-maintained, world-class automobile, one that has been more than once referred to as “the best car in the World.” The power assisted steering is light but direct, the brakes and front end have just been checked and found to be in fine condition. The transmission shifts smoothly. And the engine . . . a mechanical dream with the precision of a Swiss Rolex watch! This S3 delights with a miraculously preserved body, partly due to the pioneering use of zinc-plated steel pressings for door sills and bulkhead panels, but mainly to the influx of the mild Southern California weather and a charmed life away from ordinary conveyances, stored and pampered inside a climate-controlled garage. When we received the Bentley, it showed some crackling in the laquer paint finish, not unusual after almost 40 years. A fine motorcar deserves the best, so we had a reputable Rolls Royce and Bentley specialist strip the car’s flanks of all paint, whereupon a breathtakingly perfect body appeared! As the detail image reveals, the doors (and hoods) are made of aluminum alloy, the factory lead work is still in flawless condition, and, most importantly, there is not an ounce of plastic body filler to be found! Following factory procedure, we had the lower section repainted in the correct “Silver Sand metallic” color. After a curing period of several months, the surface was carefully color-sanded and polished to a mirror-like luster. A striping artist restored the red pinstriping on the body and hubcap trim. As a final touch, the original crowns and initials of the Bentley’s original owner were replicated on the doors. Long-expired vanity plate is now a collectible in its own right and will be included. The Bentley comes with a clear California Certificate of Title and is smog exempt. It is ready to be driven anywhere and I would not hesitate to say fly in–drive home! This Bentley S3 is a singularly attractive luxury automobile with perfect detailing and excellent taste in evidence throughout. Its provenance is impeccable! Hugely expensive when new, it appealed to the connoisseur who demanded the best money could buy. Only a fortunate few could hope to own such a magic conveyance, until now.