AC’s first post-war product was the 2-Litre, a kind of frumpy-looking thing using an engine that dated back to 1922. In 1953, they decided to put a sports car into production that was based on a John Tojeiro design. That same dated 2.0-liter engine was the initial underhood offering, but things soon got more exciting.
Beginning in 1956, AC offered a 2.0-liter inline-six from Bristol that made 120 horsepower. Sadly, this engine was also based on a pre-war design, but it made the car capable of 116 mph, which really upped AC’s sports car cred. They won their class at Le Mans and were popular on the sports car racing circuit. By 1961, a Ford-based 2.6-liter inline-six was offered for a short time. AC also offered a coupe version called the Aceca.
The Ace ceased production in 1963, but by that point, an American called Carroll Shelby had found the car and stuffed a V8 into it and called it the Cobra. The Ace name would also reappear in the 1990s on a different car.
In all, 463 Aces were built with a Bristol powerplant, the most common of the three engines offered. But it’s still rare, and it’s still “one of those cars.” It’s sports car royalty, and it’s for sale by Bonhams for $423,164. Click here for more info.
Offered by Historics Auctioneers | Ascot, U.K. | March 7, 2020
The Bristol Type 603 was introduced in 1976 as one of the replacements for the 411. It was a pretty big step, style-wise, for little Bristol, especially considering how their designs had evolved up to that point. The third series of the 603 was called the Britannia, and an upgraded version of that car was sold simultaneously as the Brigand.
The Brigand name was lifted from a Bristol ground attack plane from the 1940s, which is pretty cool. In car form, it was powered by a turbocharged 5.9-liter Chrysler V8. That turbo, and its associated hood bulge, is what set it apart from the Britannia. Top speed was 150 mph.
By the time this car was built, Bristol had ceased publishing production figures, so the true number of Brigand examples built is unknown. It was available from 1982 through 1994, and for a long period of that time, they sold approximately three of these. Per year. So yeah, they’re rare. Still, this car is estimated at $29,000-$34,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Brightwells | Leominster, U.K. | September 4, 2019
Another Bristol! The 412 was the successor to the 411, and we’ve featured four of those so far. This model was produced in two series between 1975 and 1981. Production figures were never released to the public, but its thought about 80 were produced before Bristol slightly revised the 412 and renamed it the Beaufighter.
The 412 was built side-by-side with the 603, and the cars were very similar. This car uses a 5.9-liter Chrysler V8 good for 170 horsepower. Top speed was 140 mph. The body of this Bristol was actually designed by Zagato, and it’s a targa.
Remarkably, for a handbuilt car this rare, the pre-sale estimate is only $18,000-$22,000. Click here for more from Brightwells.
Offered by Historics at Brooklands | July 13, 2019
The Bristol 411 was produced in five different series between 1969 and 1976. Series III cars went on sale in 1972 and were succeeded in 1974 by the Series IV. The main difference from the Series II was some revised styling, including a shift to four headlights and that kind of cool front grille treatment.
The 6.3-liter Chrysler V8 also received a lower compression ratio for 1972. Series II features, including a self-leveling suspension, were retained. Still though, after seven years and five different iterations, Bristol only made 287 examples of the 411.
This one was restored in 2012 and purchased by the consignor in 2017. It should sell for between $45,000-$54,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | June 30, 2019
The Arnolt-Bristol was the result of a collaboration between Stanley Arnolt’s company of Chicago, Illinois, Bristol Cars of England, and Bertone of Italy. Bristol supplied the engine and chassis, Bertone the body, and Arnolt the money, spirit, and marketing.
The cars use the chassis and the 130 horsepower 2.0-liter inline-six from the Bristol 404 (okay, the engine actually could trace its roots back to BMW). Bertone designed the two-door body. Three trims were offered: Bolide, DeLuxe, and Competition. The DeLuxe was similar to the Bolide except it brought side windows, a convertible top, a glovebox, and instrumentation behind the steering wheel.
These cars were serious racers in their day, taking class victories at Sebring and Le Mans. Only 130 examples were produced, and this one was delivered new in Mexico. Restored, it is eligible for historic events such as the Mille Miglia. It should bring between $320,000-$370,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.
Offered by Bonhams | Chichester, U.K. | April 7, 2019
We are slowly filling in the gaps of the Bristol model history. We’ve previously covered models 400, 401, and 402. And here we have the 403. Largely an evolution of early cars, it was built between 1953 and 1955. Only 287 were made (or 281, depending on who you ask).
Like earlier cars, and a few following it, the 403’s powerplant is based on a pre-war BMW six-cylinder engine, specifically a 2.0-liter straight-six. Horsepower now cracked three figures for the first time, at 100. It could also do over 100 mph.
Other improvements included work on the suspension and brakes, to add some credibility to the “sport” part of the “sports saloon” they advertised it as being. This is a rare two-door post-war British sports sedan that should command between $62,000 and $66,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.
Offered by H&H Classics | Duxford, U.K. | March 20, 2019
The Bristol 404 and 405 were a 2-door coupe or a 4-door sedan/2-door convertible, respectively. In 1958, they gave way to this, the 2-door 406 coupe. Naturally, it would be replaced by the 407 in 1961.
The 406 was the final Bristol to use the, by then, antiquated BMW-based 2.2-liter straight-six. While the engine was larger than in previous models, the power output was unchanged at 105 horsepower, which left the Bristol in the dust of most of its competitors. So the company had to make up for it in luxury and engineering. For instance, it was one of the first cars to receive 4-wheel disc brakes.
The 406 is not all that rare by Bristol standards, with a whopping 174 units produced in its short production run. This nice example is selling at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from H&H Classics.
Offered by H&H Classics | Buxton, U.K. | November 28, 2018
Photo – H&H Classics
The Bristol 408 was a model offered by Bristol Cars between 1963 and 1966. It came after the 407 and, guess what, before the 409. It was mechanically identical to the 407, but featured significant exterior design changes.
The engine is a 5.1-liter Chrysler V8, supposedly making 250 horsepower. Top speed is said to be about 122 mph. The company only churned out 83 examples, which is sort of the average output for a model from this small company. This example has been repainted but is otherwise original. It should bring between $45,000 and $58,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Update: Sold $43,071.
1968 Bristol 410
Offered by Brightwells | Leominster, U.K. | November 28, 2018
Photo – Brightwells
This is a Bristol 410. It looks an awful lot like the Bristol 408 (and the 409 in between). So what’s different about this car? Well, it’s a little more aerodynamic and not quite as upright. It still used the same Chrysler V8 that dated back to the Bristol 407.
In this case, the engine displaced 5.2-liters but still puts out 250 horsepower. The increased aerodynamic efficiency resulted in the slightly higher top speed of 130 mph. Only 82 examples of the 410 were produced, and this one should bring between $36,000-$41,000. Click here for more info.
Offered by Bonhams | Chichester, U.K. | September 8, 2018
Photo – Bonhams
A 404 error is what you get when a server can’t find what you’ve asked it for. The Bristol 404 was not an error, but it’s pretty hard to find when you go looking for one: between 1953 and 1958 the company only built 52 examples.
The 404 and 405 were two models manufactured side by side. The 404 was a two-door coupe with a very short wheelbase, whereas the 405 was a longer wheelbase four-door sedan that could also be had as a two-door convertible. These were the first Bristol cars to completely break away styling-wise from their predecessor’s BMW lineage.
Power comes from a 2.0-liter straight-six that could be had in 105 or 125 horsepower versions. This car was restored some years ago and is being sold out of a collection of Bristol road cars. It’s a nice example of one of the rarer models from one of Britain’s rarest automobile manufacturers. It should bring between $100,000-$130,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
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.