Classic Bentley: Life After Rolls Royce

Bentley is becoming more valuable as a collectible

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Classic Bentleys are becoming increasingly popular among collectors. They are minted in such low numbers that instantly guarantees their exclusivity. The Bentley is a rare automobile, even more so than its elusive ex-stable mate the Rolls Royce. HJ Mulliner, James Young, Park Ward, are all names of eminent coachbuilders who created Bentley works of art. Bentley value has been on the upswing starting last decade. A Bentley is the Rolls Royce for the owner/driver that wishes to maintain a lower profile. Bentleys age as a fine Chateau Lafite Rothschild…rich-n-rare.

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1959 Bentley S1

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Bentley earned its reputation as thoroughbred status in the days of the LeMans 24 hour endurance races and the infamous Bentley Boys with consecutive wins. High revs at low rpm became the Bentley selling feature. Through the years with constant refinement the brand has evolved into a completely new status. Since Bentley is no longer under the imperious shadow of Rolls Royce, it has become an ultra-luxury brand desired world-wide.

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Continental GT

Flying Spur

Mulsanne

From the GT inspired Continentals…to the elegant Flying Spur…to the grandest of the grand tourers, the Bentley Mulsanne saloon… the brand has a luxury car for every taste. Bespoke and Bentley are synonymous. It wasn’t easy to gain world esteem, Bentley did it the hard way through dedication and perseverance. The brand is becoming more prominent each year. Bentley exclusivity is right up there with Rolls Royce exclusivity…Rolls Royce no longer throws Bentley shade-

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John Steed’s vehicle of choice was the Bentley Blower. Steed drove various classic Bentleys from the 1920s on the 1960s cult British Detective Series “The Avengers.” His trusty Bentleys always kept up with the megalomaniacs without skipping a beat. A Bentley has stamina as witnessed by “The Avengers” on numerous occasions. Steed would also “take the Rolls out of mothballs” as well. John Steed is the quintessential ‘British Gentleman’ in every respect, driving a Bentley proved the fact.

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woolf barnato

The Bentley Boys in the 1920s and their consecutive wins at LeMans helped to establish Bentley as a world-class thoroughbred. Lest we forget…Woolf Barnato and the classic race against “Le Train Bleu” from Cannes to Calais…beating it and was actually seated at his favorite club on prestigious St James Street in London when The Blue Train arrived at Calais…this feat proved the indomitable spirit of a Bentley traveling over uneven pavement night and day arriving in London without an issue. The victories from 1927 to 1930 at LeMans proved Bentley’s rugged reliability and durability.

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The Bentley S1 was built from 1955 until 1959. It is the standard steel body on frame constructed saloon. This is the first major redesign after WWII. It is also the birth of the iconic bodyshell that is still highly respected by connoisseurs world-wide as a symbol of the good-life. This bodyshell replaced that of the “R” type standard steel saloon that had been in production since 1946. Pressed Steel did the bodyshells for Bentley as well as Rolls Royce.

The S1 is powered by the 4.9 litre in-line 6-cylinder “L” engine mated to a GM Hydra-Matic Flashaway 4-speed automatic transmission. The engine is equipped with two SU HD8 carburetors. The Bentley S1 is a large front engine rear drive luxury saloon. They ride long 123” wheelbases. They have the luxury length of 212” and are 74.7” in width.

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Rolls Royce acquired HJ Mulliner and Company in 1959. They merged Park Ward in 1961 to form Mulliner Park Ward LTD. They created masterworks, highly bespoke saloons of distinction. Most Rolls Royce and Bentley models are saloons. Eminent coachbuilders such as Mulliner Park Ward and James Young crafted custom bodyshells for two-door fixed head and drop head convertible coupes.

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Bentley S2

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1960 Bentley S2 Mulliner fixed head coupe

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A totally unique luxury two-door saloon is the 1960 Bentley S2 with Mulliner coachwork. Their lightweight construction makes them quick. Their top speed is 109 mph. They are powered by the Rolls Royce 6.2 litre 380 CID 16-valve V8 engine. The engine produces 197 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 450 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. It can do the ¼ mile @ 76 mph in 19.3 seconds. Performance is rated as 0-60 mph in 13 seconds, and 0-100 mph in 47.7 seconds. These Mulliner-bodied Bentley two-door saloons are highly sought collector’s pieces.

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Mulliner Park Ward created a custom all-aluminium bodied model called the Continental S2. It is powered by the 6.2 litre V8 engine. The Bentley Continental S2 Mulliner Park Ward is among the most exclusive models in the brand’s history. It is available as a fixed head and a drop head convertible coupe. Its curvy silhouette is unlike any previous model. Its smooth fluid lines are devoid of nomenclature and unnecessary trim. Its timeless design is as fresh today as it was when it was designed. The Continental S2 Mulliner Park Ward was hand-crafted from 1959 until 1962.

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The Rolls Royce 6.2 litre 380 CID 16-valve V8 engine produces 197 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 450 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. Performance is rated as 0-60 mph in 13 seconds, 0-100 mph in 49.9 seconds with a top speed of 108 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 76 mph in 19.3 seconds. This is a true driver’s Bentley in the grand touring tradition. The Continental S2 MPW is a rare Bentley experience.

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6.2 litre V8

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1963 Bentley Continental S3 Mulliner Flying Spur 

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Another rare model is the Bentley S3 Mulliner Flying Spur four-door saloon powered by the 6.2 litre V8. It is tuned to produce 197 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 450 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. The engine is equipped with two SU HD8 carburetors and a GM Hydra-Matic Flashaway 4-speed automatic transmission without torque converter. Its performance is rated as 0-60 mph in 13.3 seconds, 0-100 mph in 49 seconds and has a top speed of 108 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 75 mph in 19.5 seconds.

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The S3 Continental Flying Spur is a custom-bodied Bentley by Mulliner Park Ward. The S3 Continentals are strictly coachbuilt. They are sleeker than the standard steel S3 saloons. It is the S3 Flying Spur’s higher gearing and architecture crafted entirely in aluminium that makes it faster than the heavier steel-bodied saloons. The S3 Continentals were built from 1962 until 1965. Mulliner Park Ward built 291 and James Young built an additional 20 vehicles.

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James Young

This is the ultra rare Continental S3 James Young coupe

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1964 Bentley S3 standard steel saloon

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The Bentley S3 standard steel saloon is as luxurious as the Rolls Royce counterpart. Built from 1962 until 1966 the Series III can be distinguished by the quad headlamp arrangement and the slightly lower radiator grille and bonnet. This is the classiest of the Bentleys from the 1960s.

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The Bentley S3 is also powered by the 6.2 litre 16-valve V8 engine. It produces 197 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 450 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. It is equipped with two SU HD8 carburetors and GM’s Hydra-Matic Flashaway 4-speed automatic transmission. The S3 sprints from 0-60 mph in 12.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 53.1 seconds with a top speed of 106 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 75 mph in 19.3 seconds.

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Series III

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This classic body style is selling in six figures. Both the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III and the Bentley S3 are highly sought. But remember one thing…the Bentley was always the bastard at the Rolls Royce family reunion therefore they didn’t make that many…which will eventually make them more valuable than “you know who.” This is the last of the aristocratic bodyshells.

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The Bentley is just as luxurious as ‘you know who’

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Same interior upholstered in leather by Connolly Brothers

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It has the same hand-polished mirror-matched veneers

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It has the same Wilton hand-tufted 100% wool carpet

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Once upon a time Bentley and Rolls Royce lived happily ever after as one in the same. The Bentley was for the owner that wanted to maintain a lower profile without sacrificing luxury. The Rolls Royce gran turismo used to be the Bentley. Grace and sophistication have always been Bentley attributes. It is the collectible Bentleys that are fetching top dollar on the auction block especially the Mulliner-bodied models. Out of all the eminent coachbuilders, Mulliner Park Ward were purveyors of the art in creating automotive masterworks.

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Now that the “line of demarcation” has been drawn, these two distinguished brands are fierce competitors. They both are succeeding. There’s nothing like a classic Bentley, collectors are just now starting to realize…” yes, there’s life after Rolls Royce…”

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The Bentley Mulsanne with the Mulliner Driving Specification

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