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Rolls-Royce and Bentley

 

 

Car of the Month - January 2009
Bentley S3, 1964, #B154LEC
Saloon enhanced by Radford 'Countryman' Adaptations


Bentley S3 Harold Radford Countryman

The number of coachbuilders during the period after World War II was dwindling rapidly. In the early 60s there did remain – because H.J. Mulliner and Park Ward had been acquired by Rolls-Royce and were amalgamated under the wings of the motor car manufacturer - only two independent coachbuilders and that were James Young and Harold Radford (Coachbuilders) Ltd. It is well worth a note that Harold Radford’s first creation, coachwork on Bentley Mark VI, had been launched during the early post-war years. Rather quickly he had come to the conclusion that his company could survive only by adapting to the new market conditions. These very clearly dictated to accept that there was only microscopic demand for individual, complete bodies. Harold Radford's consequence was to concentrate entirely on enhancing the existing standard coachwork offered by Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

Bentley S3 Harold Radford Countryman

Very clever, very attractive, executed in sterling quality and with craftsmanship of highest standard, he did offer a magnitude of special interior fittings and luxury equipment that was not be found on standard coachwork. The ‘Countryman’ adaptations offered the owner many unique features to provide superlative comfort. There is fair reason to applaud Harold Radford's pioneer work as the birthplace of that highly profitable market niche "Bespoke", which nowadays is quite important for Rolls-Royce and Bentley, for their present models (although both marques are entirely separate now, one and the other are keen to offer a complete range in this market segment!).

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Bentley S3 Harold Radford Countryman

This Bentley S3, #B154LEC, does show an impressively high number of extras that did appear with illustrations and detailed descriptions in the 1962 catalogue of Harold Radford (Coachbuilders) Ltd. The two piece rear seats (no bench as on standard saloons) can be folded individually forming a half or full luggage platform. Thus the car e.g. could be used for business during the week and did permit to stow fishing rods or other sports gear for weekend tours. Cabinets built into the front seats’ backrests beneath the folding tables included various types of requisites. A humidor for cigars (remember that smoking was de rigueur at that time) plus other smoker's delights were to be found as well as a cocktail cabinet. An attractive addition was a modified rear centre armrest, which included a cigarette case, a note book and holder for brush and comb together with a folding mirror. What was later re-invented as "cup-holder" was a minor extra that already could be ordered as one of the many adaptations designed by Radford.

Bentley S3 Harold Radford Countryman

Bentley S3 Harold Radford CountrymanThe front doors were fitted with a mineral water rack in place of the standard glove box on one side. The other side showed locker for a vanity case – and that one did match exactly the colour of the car’s leather trim. Perhaps Harold Radford even in his days had been so farsighted to acknowledge what is rarely said and nonetheless is the truth – the decision for an acquisition quite often is by the wife, whose husband does sign the contract?

 

 

 
Bentley S3 Harold Radford Countryman

Ray Koziol, who has been so kind to provide the photos shown here happens to have the original invoice on this car by Inskip of New York. The details give off that the price of this saloon with Harold Radford ‘Countryman’ adaptations was some 25% more expensive than the amount that would have been due for a standard saloon.

Bentley S3 Harold Radford Countryman

(Photos: Ray Koziol, USA)



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