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.
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.