Offered by Brightwells | Leominster, U.K. | July 11, 2018
Photo – Brightwells
The Bristol Aeroplane Company was founded in 1910. It had a different name then, but they produced Bristol-branded airplanes for decades, helping the Allies win WWII in the process. Either in a dig at the defeated Germans (or because it was a great starting point), Bristol decided to build cars after the war and used the BMW 328 as their starting point.
Initially acquiring a license from Frazer Nash to build BMW cars, the first Bristol road car was the 1947 400. It’s powered by BMW’s 2.0-liter straight-six that made 80 horsepower. Built through 1950 (the 401 was introduced in 1948), all factory-built 400s were two-door sedans. At least one coachbuilt convertible was also built.
In all, 487 examples were produced. They were a great first start for one of the world’s most exclusive and private car companies. Painted in a striking shade of blue, this example features a rebuilt engine and a re-trimmed interior. It should bring between $66,000-$74,000. Click here for more from this sale.
The Bristol 411 was produced from 1969 through 1976 when it was replaced by the 603. The 603 was a pretty big departure, styling-wise from earlier models. It was more modern and less “classically British.” Somehow Bristol managed to continue building the 603 from 1976 through 2011, which is pretty incredible.
After a few different name changes as the model was refined, the Blenheim name was introduced in 1995. It would be produced in three different series until 2011. The Blenheim 3, as we have here, first went on sale in 2000. It featured an upgraded interior and different tail lights. Oh yeah, and the engine got an upgrade. It’s got a 360 horsepower, 5.9-liter Chrysler V-8.
Bristol is one of the most secretive automotive marques in the world. They didn’t even officially publish a horsepower figure. With such exclusive clientele, they certainly won’t tell us how many examples of the Blenheim (of any sort) have been made. This 51,000 mile example should bring between $60,000-$65,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Coys’ lineup.
Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | April 8, 2018
Photo – Artcurial
When WWII ended, it left some companies wondering what they were going to do – especially those who were focused 100% on wartime production like the Bristol Aeroplane Company was. But if you’ve mastered production of vehicles (be it airplanes or trucks), cars are a logical next road to go down. And that’s just the path Bristol took.
Their first car was the 400 and this 401 two-door sedan was their second automobile. The first Bristols were sort of based on BMW models, which is probably why this thing looks a lot like a BMW 327. The 401 was available from 1948 through 1953 and a convertible variant, the 402, was built in 1949 and 1950 only. Only 611 examples of the 401 were built.
The aluminium body is by Touring and the engine is from the BMW 328. It’s a 2.0-liter straight-six making 85 horsepower. Bristol is still out there, barely, as one of the most exclusive car companies on the planet. To get your hands on this one will run you between $50,000-$75,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Artcurial’s lineup.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2018
Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Stanley Arnolt was a Chicagoan who decided in the 1950s that he wanted to import some cars from Europe. The first was called the Arnolt-MG and it was an Italian-bodied car based on an MG. After this followed brief flings with Aston Martin and Bentley before he arrived at Bristol Cars in England.
The body for the Arnolt-Bristol was designed by Bertone and the chassis and engine were supplied by Bristol. The cars were then shipped to Indiana for any final finishing needed before being sold. The engine is a 2.0-liter straight-six making 130 horsepower. Three models were offered: the stripper Competition, the mid-range Bolide racer with a folding windscreen and the better-appointed Deluxe road car.
This race car was kept by Arnolt and raced by the factory at the 1955 12 Hours of Sebring where it finished 29th (4th in class) with 49-year-old racing legend René Dreyfus (and co-driver Robert Grier) behind the wheel. It was sold to a privateer in 1963 who kept the car active in the racing scene in Canada. It’s since been restored and looks very nice. Only 142 of these were built and only 85 are known to exist. These are really cool American-European hybrid race cars and their prices has been pretty strong for years. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 19, 2018
Photo – Gooding & Company
Unlike many of their peers, Bristol did not dabble in automobiles until after WWII. Known primarily for their airplanes, they produced their first car, the 400, in 1947. The followup to that car was the 401 Sedan in 1948.
The following year, Bristol decided to build a drop-top version of the 401 and they called it the 402 Cabriolet. Some Bristol models have a sort of ungainly appearance to them, but this car is downright pretty. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter straight-six that makes 80 horsepower. It’s not quick, but it should do 90 mph.
Sold new to a Thai Prince living in England, this 402 is one of just 26 built. It’s thought that as few as 13 are still around, which is pretty few… but then again Bristol has never been about building cars in any appreciable quantities. Restored just last year, this thing is fresh. It should bring between $425,000-$525,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | December 2, 2017
Photo – Bonhams
The Bristol 411 was the replacement for the short lived 410. It debuted in 1969 and was built in five distinct series until 1976. We’ve previously featured a Series II car and what you see here is a Series I, which was built between 1969 and 1970.
The engine in the 411 was a 6.3-liter Chrysler V-8 making 335 horsepower. Top speed was 140 mph. For the Series II, Bristol added a self-leveling suspension. The styling would get an update for the Series III. Only about 50 examples of the Series I were produced, out of a total production run of 287 cars. This 77,000 mile example should bring between $79,000-$92,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Update: Not sold.
1974 Bristol 411 Series IV
Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | December 6, 2017
Photo – Bonhams
The fourth series of the Bristol 411 was only sold in 1974. It sports the same styling as the Series III, with revised grille and headlight setup. The engine was also different as Bristol went with more displacement, installing a 6.6-liter version of Chrysler’s V-8. The larger engine wasn’t enough to counteract a lower compression ratio and stricter environmental guidelines as power dropped to 264 horsepower.
This example was restored over a five year period between 2006 and 2011. The Series IV had the shortest production run, but I’m not sure how many were built (of the 287 total). Always rare and always collectible, this Bristol should bring between $59,000-$72,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by H&H Classics | Chateau Impney, U.K. | December 7, 2016
Photo – H&H Classics
Bristol Cars – which is back with new models after a five year hiatus spent restoring and selling their old cars – was founded in 1945 as an offshoot of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. They weren’t exactly super creative when it came to model names, but I guess that’s just the way it was with some British sports car makers after WWII. The 407 followed in a line of models that began with the 400.
The 407 was the first Bristol built after the automotive arm officially split from the airplane company. It was also the first model for which Bristol looked to an outside company for an engine. In this case, it was Chrysler (and it would remain Chrysler through 2011). The 407 is powered by a 250 horsepower 5.1-liter V-8 capable of propelling the car to speeds over 125 mph. Sixty arrived in 9.2 seconds.
While never completely restored, the engine has been replaced for a correct (but not original) unit, the interior was redone in 2010, and the paint is relatively fresh. Showing 63,000 miles, this 407 is one of just 88 built between 1961 and 1963 and one of about 20 that remain on the roads today. When new it cost a not-cheap £5,141 and it should sell at this auction for between $41,000-$47,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of H&H’s lineup.
Offered by Bonhams | Oxford, U.K. | December 7, 2014
Photo – Bonhams
Bristol Cars has been around since the end of World War II, a spin-off of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. They’ve built low-volume luxury sports sedans and coupes for over 60 years. They went bankrupt in 2011, but were purchased and are back in business.
The 411 was the successor to the 410 and was built in small amounts between 1969 and 1974 in 5 Series. Series II cars differed from Series I in that they had a self-leveling suspension. The engine was a 6.3-liter V-8 but the owner of this car had it replaced with a Chrysler 7.2-liter V-8, fitted by the factory. It makes 325 horsepower.
This car has been owned by a Bristol Owners Club member for 20 years. The engine was rebuilt in his care and the paint is a little over a year old. Bristols have always been handbuilt cars and they only made 287 of the 411 across all series. This one should sell for between $63,000-$71,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Some of the highlights include a 1963 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. The 40 Series of the Land Cruiser range were made from 1960 until 1984 (and even longer in Brazil. These cars – er, uh, Jeeps – are much beloved by the off-road community. This particular model looks brand new and was owned by the Rover Car Co as an “evaluation” vehicle. It sold for about $26,000. Bonhams has these pictures locked, but I’ll do what I can for the other cars.
This isn’t the exact car – the exact car had striking red brakes and wheel caps. BSA, Birmingham Small Arms Company, is known primarily as a motorcycle manufacturer but they built cars from 1909 until 1926 and again from 1929 until 1940. Some of these cars where sporty three-wheelers but they built a number of four-wheeled variants as well. This 8.9 horsepower Scout uses a 1,075cc engine that was rebuilt about three years ago. It sold for about $12,000.
The Hillman Minx was produced from the early 1930s through 1970. The immediate postwar Minx (the example sold at Bonhams a 1946) did not differ much from the pre-war Minx. The model is commonplace but the Drophead Coupe body style is quite rare. A driver in nice black paint sold for about $5,700.
Offered by Bonhams | Harrogate, U.K. | November 16, 2011
Again, as this is a Bonhams lot, not the actual picture. This is a random Beaufighter that looks to be in better condition than the one coming up for auction, which is a sort of sea green.
Bristol is as English as English car firms come. They haven’t published production figures since the early 80s and even then it was a tick over 100 cars per year. Production as been suspended as of early 2011 – but there was a time when people were buying these cars – and that’s when they would be built.
The Beaufighter was a slightly re-styled 412, a model introduced in 1975. It featured an updated engine, in this case a turbocharged 5.9 liter Chrysler V8 making the car capable of 150 mph. The body was by Zagato, as was the 412, the main difference being the four headlights on the Beaufighter versus two headlights on the 412. Production ceased in 1993 after 11 years.
The original price of this car was £40,000 in 1988, a far cry from the pre-sale estimate of £6,000-£8,000. The fact that this car has been in storage for 10 years is not helping its value. Bristol cars are rare enough as it is, so they don’t come up for auction that often. Bonhams sold a red Beaufighter similar to the one pictured above for £12,000 back in 2009 and that car was in much better condition. Then again, there are Beaufighter for sale in private hands that are asking almost as much as their price when new. Compared to that, this car is a bargain, but who knows what sort of maintenance and repair costs lay in wait.
Check out the auction lot here. And more about the auction here.