Chassis number LCSC98 was sold new in Palm Beach, FL, to first owner B.A. Whittemore, Esq. Originally finished in Shell Grey with blue coach lines over blue leather, Baroda Blue cloth headliner and Ambassador Blue carpets, optional equipment included Hirschmann electric aerial, Van Gerbig quarter lights and panel, power windows, Sundym glass, lambswool rugs in the rear, rear radio speakers and air conditioning. A copy of the original purchase order indicates that the cost of the options alone was nearly enough to buy a new Ford Mustang, and the whole car came to $28,109, including delivery. Delivered to the shippers in June of 1965, it wasn’t registered until the next year.
It appears the Rolls would remain in Florida for much of its life, with three further owners all before 1972. The interim history is not recorded, but the current owner acquired it through a dealer from a Coral Gables collector in late January 2002.
Described at the time of sale by the dealer as being in “excellent condition” and that it “starts, runs and drives,” it was noted to have 55,784 miles. The odometer now reads 55,831 — a mere 47 miles in all that time. Today the older-looking repaint still shows well while the interior appears to be largely original, if somewhat faded from decades of Florida sunshine. When purchased, the radio and speakers were described as being later units — and they have been retained as such. Additional updates in the present ownership include a newer Moto-Lita chrome-and-wood-rimmed steering wheel, power mirrors that appear to have been sourced from a late-model Chevy, and an updated air-conditioning system. All that being said, the under 50 miles driven over the past two decades was done shortly after purchase, so mechanical recommissioning is strongly recommended prior to active use.
|Vehicle:||1966 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward “Flying Spur”|
|Tune Up Cost:||$700|
|Chassis Number Location:||Firewall plate|
|Engine Number Location:||Lower left side of engine block|
|Club Info:||Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club|
|Alternatives:||1957–66 Bentley S1, S2 or S3 Continental Flying Spur, 1964–71 Mercedes-Benz 600 SWB, 1963–66 Maserati Quattroporte Frua|
This car, Lot 166, sold for $145,600, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams Cars’ Greenwich, CT, sale on June 3, 2023.
Following the successful launch of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and nearly identical Bentley S standard steel sedans in 1955, Rolls-Royce envisioned a series of coachbuilt Bentley S Continentals with somewhat sportier mechanical specification and lighter, sleeker bodies. Most of these were drophead coupes (convertibles to U.S. buyers) or 2-door fixed-head coupes. However, famed coachbuilder H.J. Mulliner designed the beautiful “Flying Spur” sedan, produced on the Bentley S1 chassis, starting in late 1957.
The name “Flying Spur” was suggested by Mulliner Director Arthur Johnstone, whose family crest apparently contained a depiction of a spur with wings. The name went on to have a long life with both Rolls-Royce and Bentley, brands that love nothing more than recycling old, legendary model names. In the mid-1990s, a Rolls-Royce Silver Spur equivalent to the Bentley Turbo R was called Flying Spur, and the current Bentley Flying Spur is the third iteration of a 4-door model based on the Continental GT chassis.
The 1957 Bentley S Flying Spur was a much-admired design that carried over to the V8 Bentley S2 and the quad-headlight S3. It achieved lighter weight than the standard-bodied Bentley saloons primarily through the use of alloy body panels. After the debut of the S3, it was decided that there was a market, albeit highly rarefied, for a Rolls-Royce equivalent, so the Silver Cloud III “Flying Spur” made its debut at the 1962 Earls Court Motor Show.
The Rolls-Royce version was almost identical to the Bentley S3 version except for the famous radiator grille, emblems and strangely, on most cars, the absence of a tachometer. I use quotes around “Flying Spur” because that name was never officially used on the Rolls-Royce version. Rather, the car was called the “Silver Cloud III H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward Sports Saloon.” (Mulliner had been acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1959 and merged into in-house coachbuilder Park Ward, hence the “Mulliner, Park Ward” description.) Almost everyone immediately discarded that lengthy appellation and just referred to it as the “Rolls-Royce Flying Spur.”
The Flying Spurs were enormously expensive cars when new, costing roughly the same as four or five Cadillacs, and closer in price to a Phantom V limousine than to a regular Silver Cloud sedan. Because Bentley had a six-year head start on Rolls-Royce, the Silver Cloud III Flying Spur is the rarest version. Quoted production numbers vary, but the most reliable number is probably 52 cars.
There were both 4-window versions, as with our subject car, and 6-window versions. The 4-window version’s C-pillar design is closer to that of a regular Silver Cloud, while the 6-window has a larger and more-rounded rear quarter window aft of the rear door and thus a slimmer C-pillar. Take your pick, but the 6-window design is far more prevalent.
Among Flying Spurs, our subject car sits at the pinnacle of rarity. It is a Rolls-Royce rather than the (relatively) more-common Bentley Flying Spur. It is a left-drive, U.S.-spec car, and it is a 4-window example. In 2002, it was sold into the massive, multi-thousand-car collection of a prominent Kuwaiti sheikh, now deceased. The car was restored prior to purchase, but, as noted in the catalog description, it has been driven only 47 miles in 21 years. The all-too-common recommendation for “recommissioning” before use applies here, just as with most of the cars from this collection that Bonhams Cars has been auctioning in recent years.
The exterior and interior finishes on this car appear to be in reasonably good, though not concours, condition. The interior wood remains beautiful. The engine compartment shows use (long ago) and soiling, but probably can be substantially cleaned without much difficulty.
Two cosmetic modifications were made to the car during its Kuwaiti ownership. A Moto-Lita steering wheel was installed, replacing the sober, black Bakelite wheel used by Rolls-Royce at the time; it seems a bit out of place. The sheikh (or someone managing his collection) was strangely fond of adding modern power-adjustable mirrors to older cars. We have seen this especially on some of his Aston Martins, and they pop up again here. They actually don’t look that bad, but obviously they are wildly non-original and should be converted back to stock.
I suspect that most collectors wanting to buy a car of this distinction are likely perfectionists who want more than a “decent-looking” car. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this example on a concours field in a couple of years following an expensive restoration.
The most expensive Flying Spur we have seen at auction was Keith Richards’ “Blue Lena” Bentley S3, s/n BC68XE, named after Lena Horne. It led a particularly eventful life ferrying around the Rolling Stones guitarist and his entourage, famously including a trip to Morocco for some extra-legal activities. Fully restored, it sold for almost $1.2m at Bonhams’ 2015 Goodwood Revival Sale (SCM# 6786876).
Obviously, most Flying Spurs don’t enjoy such provenance, but examples originally owned by less-famous rich people remain among the priciest 4-door sedans. Bentley Flying Spurs generally sell for between $125,000 and $275,000, S1 models usually toward the lower end of that range, with the S3 toward the upper end. Over the past few years, Bonhams Cars has auctioned several Bentley Flying Spurs needing “recommissioning” from the same Kuwaiti collection, and as a group they may have distorted the market downward somewhat.
Rolls-Royce Flying Spurs come to auction infrequently. The most recent was a lovely 1964 U.S.-market example, s/n LSFU519, which sold at RM Sotheby’s Paris auction in February 2022 for $336,859 (SCM# 6952713).
Our subject car sold for almost $200k less. It could be used as-is after what is hopefully relatively minor work to get it back on the road, or re-restored if the new owner wishes. Either way, there is a decent amount of room in the purchase price for writing checks. Considering all of this, this car was quite well bought. As one of the most rare and beautiful post-war Rolls-Royces of any type, I view this as a prime candidate for future appreciation. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams Cars.)