Courtesy of Artcurial Motorcars
One of the most notable characteristics of this car is that it was bought new by Eddie Fisher, who was married at the time to Elizabeth Taylor. It is easy to imagine this impossibly glamorous couple cruising the streets of Los Angeles and, especially, Las Vegas, between the casinos sparkling away in the starlit night. Of the total of 312 Bentley S3 Continentals built, there were only 26 left-hand-drive drophead coupes like this. After being shipped from London to San Francisco, it was delivered new in Las Vegas in October 1962. Fitted with a large number of factory options, including an electric hood and windows, as well as tinted glass, it was finished at the time in “Porcelain White” with a blue hood and matching interior. Having spent most of its life on the West Coast of the United States and in Nevada, it has benefited from the very dry climate. In June 2009, this magnificent convertible returned to Europe and was bought by M.A. Oet. It was then restored to a very high standard in the U.K. Its next owner, a major Belgian collector who includes a Porsche 917 in his collection, had the car regularly maintained by Bentley Bourgoo at Knokke-le-Zoute. The car was purchased by its current owner in 2017. In impeccable condition and offering exceptional luxury and comfort, it will be supplied with a folder of invoices, its books and tools.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1962 Bentley S3 Continental Drophead Coupe
Years Produced:1962–66
Number Produced:312 S3 Continentals, 26 LHD drophead coupes
SCM Valuation:$171,500
Tune Up Cost:$300–$400
Chassis Number Location:Plate on scuttle
Engine Number Location:Front left of block, hidden by alternator and a/c pump
Club Info:Bentley Drivers Club
Alternatives:1960 Lincoln Continental Mk V, 1962 Cadillac Series 62 convertible, 1962–66 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud MPW drophead coupe
Investment Grade:A

This car sold for €303,960 ($347,821), including buyer’s premium, at Artcurial’s Monaco auction on July 21, 2020.

The S-type Continentals followed in the tradition of the first Continental R from 1952, the swiftest four-seat coupe in the world, which has been described by many of its lucky 207 buyers as “a magic carpet.” The S-type was heavier, of course, but the arrival of Rolls-Royce’s excellent all-aluminium L-series V8 in the S2 of 1959 evened up the performance gap somewhat. Launched with 6.25 liters of displacement, capacity was increased to 6.75 in 1970 when the L-series was powering the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. In fact, the “Six and Three-Quarter” has only just gone out of production, with the demise of the Bentley Mulsanne, in which twin turbos gave it 530 horsepower.

All S3s had power steering and GM Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmissions. Only 312 S3 Continentals were built, near 100 of them bodied in aluminium by Mulliner Park Ward. Rolls-Royce acquired coachbuilder H.J. Mulliner & Co. in 1959 and in 1961 merged it with Park Ward, which it had owned since 1939. These Continentals, with their distinctive “Chinese Eye” styling in both coupe and drophead forms, were built at the former Park Ward premises in Willesden, North London.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Continental was the world’s ultimate grand tourer, a car in which you could set off from any European capital in the morning and arrive at Monte Carlo fresh enough to play the tables that same evening. So, of course, the French Riviera was the perfect setting to sell such a glamorous car — even if Monaco is replete with building sites these days. Though the bidding was received at the famous Hôtel Hermitage, most of the cars were displayed at the Monaco Top Cars Collection, aka the Rainier museum in Fontvieille. This is the “poor” district of the principality, built on land reclaimed from the Mediterranean, though it’s overlooked by the Prince’s Palace, and the Monaco heliport is nearby.

Star (Wars) power

Now, this sale is all about ownership history. As much as I detest the notion of celebrity, famous ownership does bring with it cachet, which inevitably adds value. Eddie Fisher is best remembered today as the father of Carrie Fisher — Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” films — a product of his 1955 marriage to Debbie Reynolds. But in the first half of the 1950s, he was one of the most popular singers in the U.S., selling millions of records and hosting his own TV show. At least until it was canceled in the backlash over his affair with Taylor, whom he married after divorcing Reynolds in 1959.

Taylor came to fame in “National Velvet,” filmed in 1944 when she was only 12. Her affair with Fisher began soon after the death of her husband, Mike Todd, in an aviation accident. Taylor and Fisher married right after his divorce from Reynolds, who had been Taylor’s best friend. But Taylor soon began an affair with co-star Richard Burton, during filming of “Cleopatra” in 1962. She eventually married him (for the first time) in 1964, 10 days after divorcing Fisher. How’s that for some impressive mileage?

It’s questionable whether Taylor ever even rode in this car, which was bought not long after she caught the eye of Burton. An October 1962 delivery in Vegas does rather ring of a consolation present to oneself, with Fisher having found himself unexpectedly single and possibly tooling up for another bout of bad-boy behavior. The catalog says nothing about how long Fisher owned the car, and while a photograph of Taylor and Fisher in a swanky convertible does exist, the car in it is her green 1961 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II.

A little Liz goes a long way

Whatever the gory details, Tinseltown luster always rubs off on cars associated with fame, deserved or not. Anything associated with James Bond — another Riviera playboy, albeit a fictional one — increases value by a factor of eight to 10. And we are talking Hollywood royalty here, if you could prove the Taylor connection.

When a Bentley S3 Continental Flying Spur “Blue Lena” owned by The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards sold for £763,100 in 2015 (nearly $1 million at today’s exchange rate), that was about four times what it was really “worth.” The multiplication factor is less here, but still significant, as this S3 ragtop sold for twice what you’d expect for a similar, civilian-owned model.

So, a car owned briefly almost 60 years ago by an actor mostly remembered for his famous daughter and an even more famous ex-wife, and repainted since, still managed to carry enough Hollywood sheen to nearly double its material value. Those are the numbers, but the logic does not compute. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Artcurial.)

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