The journey to car manufacturing was quite a long one for the Bristol company, initially started by self-made entrepreneur Sir George White, Bristol first began life as ‘Bristol Tramway’s’. The company introduced the first electric tramway’s to the United Kingdom in 1898, this foresight pioneered modern transportation. In 1910, George White turned his attention to the skies and founded the Bristol Aeroplane Company. The Bristol aircraft distinguished themselves in both World Wars, and by 1944 the company’s workforce had swollen dramatically.
The Company employed 70,000 and he knew that he must plan for the time when the voracious wartime demand for Bristol aircraft and aircraft engines would suddenly end. As early as 1941, papers had been drawn up proposing to start a automobile company.
The first Bristol to go into production, the 400 was a close-coupled two door saloon inspired by the pre-war 326 and 328 BMWs but benefitting from the metallurgical advances of WW2 aviation. Low aerodynamic drag, high mechanical efficiency and modest weight meant it proved a successful rally car, with a top speed of 95.7mph and a six cylinder 2 litre engine that was unusually efficient for its time.
Between 1947 and 1955 the car division produced six vehicles (the type 400 to the 406) powered by Bristol-built 2 litre engines. Complying with tough aircraft standards, using aircraft construction methods and under strict aircraft-style quality inspection, they quickly gained a reputation of being among the finest cars in the world.
Over these years Bristol cars won several sporting accolades A Bristol 450 racing car won the 2 litre class at Reims in 1953 and Bristol 450s came first, second and third in their class at Le Mans in 1954 and 1955.
In the late 1950’s, believing bigger is better the British government forced the merger of aircraft manufacturers. This meant Bristol Motor Cars were marked for closure, however, the company was bought in September 1960 by George S.M. White the chairman and effective founder.
Without the financial and practical assistance of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, Bristol Cars could no longer develop its own engines. It turned instead to specially built Canadian Chrysler V8s, ensuring a product of exceptional quality and restrained beauty, but with the heart of a lion.
In March 2011, to the general distress of the motor industry and Bristol owners alike, it was announced that Bristol Cars had been placed into administration and vehicle production had been stopped. The company was purchased by KamKorp and since 2011, the company has restored and sold all models of the marque brand whilst the development of a new model continues. For the meantime Bristol Cars are resigned to being a great British Classic!
For more content follow us on Social Media!
James Woods – DD Classics
- Two-door Coupe
- Top Speed: 122 MPH (Declared by factory)
- Acceleration: 0-60 / 9.9 seconds (Declared by factory)
The Bristol 408 was a luxury British car made between 1963 and 1966, Mechanically the Bristol 408 was identical to is predecessor the 407, which had been a major departure for Bristol with its use of a Chrysler V8 Engine and automatic transmission.
Offered here is a beautiful example of the Bristol 408 which has had an incredible amount of care lavished on it to ensure it presents in top condition and is mechanically reliable and always on the button, ready for the long journey ahead, rain or shine. The owner has taken a great deal of pride in this lovely Bristol and is reluctantly only parting with it due to health problems.
The specification is a perfect combination for a Bristol, handsomely finished in Oxford Blue with black leather interior and unusually the car has air conditioning and a sliding metal sunroof which are highly desirable options, hardly ever seen.
An engine rebuild has very recently been carried out amongst other works and accompanying the car is en extremely comprehensive history file detailing the works carried out on the vehicle and giving a great insight into the fastidiousness of ownership enjoyed by its custodians.
Available for viewing in our Kew showroom.