The Bentley Continental was, of course, exclusively a coachbuilt car, the firms of H J Mulliner, Park Ward and James Young all offering bodies on the Continental S2 chassis, which differed from the standard version by virtue of its four-leading-shoe front brakes, shorter radiator and, up to chassis number ‘BC99BY’, higher gearing. By far the most striking of the 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 Continental S3. 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%.
This delightful right-hand drive Chinese eye was supplied new to H.R Owen in 1963 and subsequently sold to the first owner Mr Miller of West London on the 4th May 1963. Originally registered as 777HYP the Bentley was imported to the Republic of Ireland in March 1971 and given a new registration number 777KYI as carefully reported in the buff log book that accompanies the car.
By June 1976 the Bentley was known to have three previous owners. It was registered to its final owner, a well-known Irish legal figure in January 1984 and is still remembered as a familiar sight on the roads of Dublin.
The car was retired in the early 1990s in expectation of future restoration and is presented in barn find condition as a genuine time capsule. In its original factory specification the S3 is offered with a comprehensive history file which includes a dating letter confirming the original build information, original buff log book and tool kit as well as bills and receipts of maintenance work. Over three decades of single ownership this matching numbers S3 Mulliner ParkWard is being offered on the open market for the very first time, it is a very rare beast indeed and with a little time and care this will be back on the road in its former glory. With a comprehensive history and such long-term single ownership this would make a rewarding restoration project for any collector or enthusiast.