Synonymous with the finer details in life, Bentley has more superlatives thrown it’s way than a Louis Vuitton handbag.
You only need to sit on one of those hand-crafted leather chesterfields, surrounded by veneered surfaces and inspecting that prominent Breitling clock, to appreciate this product was and still is second to very few others.
Bentley cars are indeed the pinnacle of both automotive technology and traditional craftsmanship, working harmoniously in carefully designed synergy.
Having never actually owned a Bentley, that dream was to be closer than I first anticipated.
A couple of years ago I woke up to a normal day, with the intention of assisting my best friend Daniel in the creation and erection of his very own garden ‘man cave’. Exciting? No, but our grand design project was suddenly put on hold following a text from my very enthusiastic pal Dan, saying:
“Do you remember I told you my Great Uncle William owned a Bentley!? Well, my cousins are selling it and I’ve always wanted it. Guess what, it’s going to auction with no reserve, fancy it!?”
Well, the diminished responsiblity answer was an obvious yes, simply because I’m a salespersons dream and cant resist any prospective opportunity of buying a car. A more thoughtful reply would have been, what the hell would we do with a Bentley S3? Regardless we decided to discuss the matter when I arrived at Daniels.
On my arrival, Dan and his father Andy began telling me of the incredible story behind OKW 100. This much loved 1963 registered car was purchased from its first owner, a customer of the family business Charles Rhind-Tutt & Sons for the princely sum of £1,500.
The Bentley S3 (and Rolls-Royce Solver Cloud III) were manufactured 1962-1965, and were the last of the traditional shape body affixed to a separate chassis, before the later T-Series/Silver Shadow range was introduced, featuring a 6.2 V8 engine. The same power-plant, although updated, was fitted to many a Bentley for years to follow.
The car remained in the same family for the next 42 years, but was unfortunately left idle for the last 20. They also explained the significance of the registration prefix ‘OKW’, which was Uncle Williams desire to drive the car on his 100th birthday (OK – William), sadly that dream was never realised.
A quick telephone call to Bonham’s Auctioneers revealed the sale was actually that day!
Caution thrown, we decided to go for it and drove up to Oxford to bring the S3 home. The drive up gave Dan and myself plenty of time to deliberate, discuss and ultimately decide what plans we had for this desirable old girl.
What condition could it be in? After all, the car had been ‘dry stored’ for 20 years and our over enthusiastic minds told us it couldn’t be that bad. We even had the post restoration strategy in place. Yes, you guessed, Wedding car hire!
Name decided, details and prerequisites thoughtfully completed, these were indeed exciting times for us.
Journey negotiated, we arrived at Bonham’s. OKW 100 was indeed sitting outside, unfortunately the years had not been as kind to the Bentley as we optimistically anticipated.
Whilst 20 long years had given the Bentley S3 an obligatory ‘patina‘ look, it had also thrown a plethora of rust and hard work into the now less dreamy adventure. Nonetheless we were optimistic that her condition would most likely reflect low price, and for sentimental reasons was still worth buying.
Further information revealed a road worthy Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud had just sold for £20,000, so who would be bidding on OKW 100?
Auction started, bids rolled in, as did ours. Bang! Hammer down, selling for a shade over £8,000, our only solace was that the new owner must have wanted her badly, so badly that perhaps she would be cherished after-all.
We later found out OKW 100 had been stripped for parts, which for a classic devotee was heartbreaking news. On reflection her ‘spirit’ does live on, albeit on-board other luxurious Bentley’s gracing our roads.
However, the story does have a happy ending for Dan and Andy, in memory of their Uncle William they are now the proud owners of a Bentley Continental GT, the registration? W12 OKW.
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