It’s fair to say that Keith Richards is almost as well known for his wild lifestyle as he is for the music he’s played during his five and a bit decades as a Rolling Stone. Which is why we find ourselves relatively disappointed that his former Bentley S3 Continental Flying Spur Sports Saloon, set to be auctioned in September, is so modest. You could almost call it tasteful and restrained, certainly by the standards of Richards’s other well-documented antics from the 1960s.
Yet ‘Blue Lena’—named after jazz singer Lena Horne—was Keef’s favored ride throughout most of the Stones’ early heyday, and it comes with an attendant raft of stories, relatively few of which are likely to be found in the official auction catalogue. He bought the car new in 1965 at the age of just 22, and apart from tinted glass at the rear it looks completely standard. Well, almost. Apparently, it was subsequently modified with a hidden storage compartment for carrying Richards’s stash of illegal substances. And which, given his well-documented appetites for such things, we’re imagining to be the size of a typical glove compartment. Richards took the Bentley to Morocco a couple of years later with fellow Stone Brian Jones, trying to escape from charges of drug possession in the U.K. According to Richards’s 2010 autobiography, the destination was chosen on the basis that they could get legal drugs there. On the way, Jones got pneumonia and was left in hospital, with Richards then starting a relationship with Jones’s then girlfriend, the actress and model Anita Pallenberg, which apparently was consummated on the car’s back seat “somewhere between Barcelona and Valencia.” (Richards and Pallenberg went on to have three children together.)
Richards later crashed the car after falling asleep at the wheel, with his nose leaving an indentation in the dashboard. He sold it a couple of years ago and it’s now being offered as part of theBonhams auction that will be held at this year’s Goodwood Revival in the U.K. on September 12. The presale estimate is $610,000 to $920,000.
That’s serious money for any Bentley of this vintage, even one with so many stories to tell. For context, an ex-Richards 1950 Pontiac Chieftain, which he drove during the making of Exile on Main Street, sold in 2012 for £37,950 (roughly $61,000 at the time).