Classic Cars: 1960 Bentley S-Series

The 1960 Bentley, S-Series or otherwise, was a complete surprise. Classic cars were not on the agenda when Pam and I headed over to her son’s house. Rather, the plan was for her and Zach to get some mother-son time, a bit of long overdue interaction with other family members, and most importantly meet her newest grandson. She’s got seven of those now, without a single granddaughter in the bunch, spread out through three descendant families in three different states. Could be a message in there somewhere.

Not until we were getting ready to leave did Zach (Pam’s son) mention that “Dave is here, out in the shop.” Dave Jordan, Zach’s uncle in law on his father’s side, had driven his RV bus out from Texas, towing his latest hobby project, which turned out to be the Bentley. Pam and Dave hadn’t seen each other for more than twenty years; their reunion was warm and cordial and good for the heart. First time I’d met the man, and I was impressed.

I was also impressed with his project. I’ve never owned a Rolls Royce or a Bentley or any other British luxury vehicle, but Bentleys are cool. Okay, they shout “Money!” but they’re still cool. The gleaming black and silver gem was up on the rack in Zach’s shop, though the engine, radiator, and hood (bonnet in Merry Old England, eh?) were missing. The engine had some problems, so had been removed to have the necessary work done. It didn’t take long to ask Dave for permission to write about his newest baby, he gave the okay, and here we go. While circling the car with my camera in hand, taking pictures from as many angles as possible, I remarked, “That’s one beautiful machine!” No false flattery, either; it really is.

Dave Jordan’s 1960 Bentley S-Series, momentarily without its radiator, engine, and hood (bonnet).

Beautiful bumper, too, right? Looks like it could, you know, bump stuff and the stuff would know it got bumped. The heck with today’s deliberately crushable front ends; this front end will crush whatever it hits–which seems a whole lot safer than the other format.

Dave pointed out a few little extra touches you don’t find in your average, say, Ford or Chevrolet. Items that came with the car, right from the factory: A “torch” (flashlight) with a fairly lengthy cord that could plug into the cigarette lighter, and a modest set of tools. The only tools we see included on most American cars are what? Yep, jack handle and/or lug wrench, and that’s about it. But the practical feature that beats everything else hands down is the setup for storage of the spare tire. The 1960 Bentley’s trunk is a double decker–cargo storage in the top section, with a “lower floor” compartment specifically for the tire that leaves it about as accessible as you can get.

The 1960 Bentley’s double decker trunk provides the most accessible spare tire storage imaginable.

History of the Bentley (Bentley Motors Ltd.)? Maybe we shouldn’t even mention that. After all, Bentley is an icon, with most cars being hand built–get that, hand built!–in Crewe, England. We might not want to tell our readers that after being once acquired by Rolls Royce, later nationalized, owned by Vickers, and in 1998 acquired as a subsidiary of…Volkswagen?!

Sorry, folks. It’s no joke. Volkswagen it is, although operated separately. At least it wasn’t owned by VW in 1960 when Jordan’s jewel was crafted. No, at that point it was owned by the British engineering conglomerate, Vickers. Whew! Dodged a bullet, right there! That would be terrible, being a British luxury car and having to report to the folks who make…the Beetle.

Bentley logo.

Roughly thirty years ago, when I was starting to make waves in the multilievel marketing industry with a distributorship that promised to generate some serious income, I started dreaming about a “big money car” and settled on the Bentley. Rolls Royce was too much like…wearing a Rolex watch or something. But the Bentley, at least in its sales literature, looked pretty spiffy. The distributorship never did produce that kind of cash to burn, but for a while a brand new Bentley looked pretty good. A bit of extra motivation and all that. Now I’d rather acquire an early Chevy or GMC four wheel drive Suburban with barn doors, but hey, we all have our insane moments. (Well, most of us do. There are some stable people out there. Or so they say.)

But picking up an older Bentley, a classic like this 1960 S-Series, never crossed my mind. An early Thunderbird for the wife who helped me build the business, that was in the dream-cards, you betcha. But an early Bentley? Nope. Now Dave Jordan has tempted me, because that 1960 of his really is a bee-yoo-ti-ful hunk of iron. Not that the temptation is overwhelming, but it’s really easy to understand why he loves that car.

Yep. That’s what a car SHOULD look like!

Even without the radiator (and grille, of course), engine, and bonnet, the lines of the 1960 Bentley are awesome.

Now, that’s a bumper.

Those leather seats don’t look bad at all for being 57 years old.

Interesting instrumentation.

There were questions I should have thought to ask Dave about his car, but they never crossed my mind until later. Not what he paid for it, as (a) that’s none of my business and (b) he likely wouldn’t want that published (unless he got a real steal of a deal). But things like the exact model in the S-Series, the size of the engine, etc. As it is, we’ll have to go with what we’ve got.