International Chairman for Motoring
Bentley's magnificent Continental sports saloon has been synonymous with effortless high speed cruising in the grand manner since its introduction on the R-Type chassis in 1952. With the arrival of the final (S-Type) generation of six-cylinder cars in 1955, the Continental lost a little of its individuality but none of its exclusivity, and this trend continued after the arrival of the V8-engined S2 in 1959. Although the S2 appeared externally unchanged, its performance was considerably enhanced by the new 6,230cc V8 engine. Power-assisted steering was now standard and there was no longer the option of a manual gearbox, Rolls-Royce's own four-speed automatic being the sole offering.
The Bentley Continental was, of course, exclusively a coachbuilt automobile. The firms of H J Mulliner, Park Ward and James Young all offered bodies on the Continental S2 chassis. By far the most striking of these 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 S3 Continental. Quad headlamps were the S3's major styling innovation, and on the H J Mulliner, Park Ward-bodied Continental were contained in slanting nacelles, giving rise to this model's 'Chinese Eye' sobriquet. 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 some 7%.
Chassis 'BC8LXA' is one of only 26 left-hand drive drophead coupés out of a total of 312 S3 Continentals produced. The Bentley was delivered new in October 1962 to Las Vegas, USA having been shipped by boat from London to San Francisco. It came with the factory fitted options of a power hood, power windows, and Sundym glass, and was finished in Porcelain White with a blue top and matching interior. The Bentley's first owner was the American singer and actor Eddie Fisher, who was one of the most popular entertainers of the 1950s, selling millions of records and hosting his own TV show. Fisher was married to, in order: Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, and Connie Stevens. He took delivery of the Bentley while married to Elizabeth Taylor, and one can imagine the young couple cruising around the glittering casinos of Las Vegas in the evening - hood down - in this splendid Continental. It appears that the Bentley was mainly used in Las Vegas and occasionally Los Angeles, and it has been exceptionally well preserved thanks to the West Coast's favourable climate.
In June 2009, the Bentley was brought back to Europe for Mr Alexander Oet. It was restored in the UK and registered under Mr Oet's name. Between 2013 and 2017, the third owner, Mr Christophe d'Ansembourg, had the car regularly maintained by Bentley Bourgoo in Knokke (bills on file). This sublime soft-top Bentley Continental is offered with books, tools, and a Belgian Carte Grise.
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