Bristol - the obscure and unobtainable car you want but can't afford

 By: cazalea : July 2nd, 2019-09:48
Built by an aircraft company, built like an aircraft, styled in an eccentric way, built for gentlemen, owned by eccentric wealthy gentlemen (moi?)  - what's not to like?

I was fascinated by Bristols for years. But I had never seen one in the flesh (metal, alloy, 'glass?).

So while living in London I put on a suit and marched myself down to the Bristol showroom where I was greeted by Tony Crook himself -- what a name! 

He sternly, off-handedly granted me a cold nod (having sussed me out in a heartbeat & decided I was not the type for a Bristol) and left me to wander through the few cars with not even a handshake, cup or water or brochure. Knowing myself to be an imposter anyway, I took it as intended and soon left, vowing never to own one which was no idle threat and not difficult to uphold as they are so very rare.

The cars are quirky - with the spare wheel behind one front wheel and the battery behind the other, they all have a long-nose proportion.

Even the Beaufighter (or Fighter) which has a bit of Triumph Stag look due to the odd top arrangement.

Having been powered for most of the last 40 years by Chrysler engines, it was logical that in the last waning years the company would go nuts and built a Viper-engined variant.

Overstuffed butterscotch interior

Overstuffed engine compartment

Graceful lines

But this is the profile that grabbed me first, made memorable by LJK Setright writing in CAR magazine.  READ MORE ABOUT BRISTOL HERE


The company was revived a few years ago and is now offering the Bristol Bullet for sale. Carbon fibre body, alloy chassis, engine by BMW, all for $300k. Maybe...


The 5th one is gorgeous! Very much my taste. Thanks for this superb post, Mike. [nt]

 By: amanico : July 2nd, 2019-10:20
No message body

Assuming you're referring to the 5th photo, we have the same taste, that one's also my favorite. Superb cars, all of them. [nt]

 By: Emil Wojcik : July 2nd, 2019-10:31
No message body

Yes, Sir! [nt]

 By: amanico : July 2nd, 2019-10:33
No message body

This one (to save scrolling)

 By: cazalea : July 2nd, 2019-10:39

Yes!!! What a car! [nt]

 By: amanico : July 2nd, 2019-10:44
No message body

Beautiful! I can picture myself behind the wheel! But my wife just informed me that's never going to happen. [nt]

 By: Emil Wojcik : July 2nd, 2019-11:23
No message body

Dilemma, Dilemma... :)))) [nt]

 By: amanico : July 2nd, 2019-11:37
No message body

Thank you for the delightful post Mike!

 By: sham1 : July 2nd, 2019-10:42
I too had the honour to meet Tony Crook at the showroom and I was just spell bound by his stories of his racing years competing against Stirling Moss. A legend!  It is not often that the CEO and owner of the company is also their salesman from their only showroom in the world!  I trust the new owners are keeping the brand alive.  Bristols are quite special - I especially like the fact that in an era where cars have grown ludicrously wider that Bristols have always remained a manageable width. Afterall, roads especially those in the UK had never grown wider! smile

For me, a Bristol is the ultimate gentleman's car. It does not need to shout money or be in your face, it is the definition of discreet elegance.


 By: InDebtButOnTime : July 2nd, 2019-10:51
....the dark blue older one that looks so difficult to catagorize. Odd proportions and styling that
somehow works. I guess its a "saloon"... ?
The dapper dude in the suit looks like he owns at least one of everything... except a pair of scissors! 
Great stuff!..... Thanks!

The show room in Kensington was quite quirky

 By: Centurionone : July 2nd, 2019-11:02
I concur with the 5th car, simply majestic 😍

300K two seater with no roof in the UK ...??? right hand stearing so no exports... i am having serious doubt about that business model ;-) but its a nice looking car for sure ! [nt]

 By: Ron_W : July 2nd, 2019-11:06
No message body

With a penchant for off-the-beaten-track life, I loved the square cut Beaufighter with its Zagato body

 By: BjoernM21 : July 2nd, 2019-11:58
As a youth I also visited the showroom in London. Despite arriving by bus, I got a warm welcome by Tony Crook. But then I had the advantage that he awaited a potential customer with a doctor title, and he was not quick enough to change his behaviour towards me when I had to disappoint him. My reason to visit the showroom was the Chrysler V10-powered Fighter model with its totally unusal "modern" bodywork. There was a strong attraction of this model for me. Yet, I was rather disappointed when inspecting the car in the showroom. Not only were the panel gaps huge and uneven, but the interior design and trimming looked very amateurish to me in detail.

Notwithstanding that I could in any case not afford the car, I therefore left the showroom soon, even before the real potential customer with the appointment showed up. I reverted to my interest for the older Zagato-bodied Beaufighter, but settled for a Ford-engined Reliant Scimitar GTC as my every-day-car for many years. It reminded me a bit of the body shape of the Bristol, but was much more practical and affordable (and in the end I was convinced that the proportions of the body are also more pleasing).

While I never again aspired to own a Bristol, I kept my interest in them. With it all the collected brochures are still on hand, and all the books ever published on Bristol are in the library, and I keep adding. Right now I await delivery of the latest title... I think sometimes it is better when dreams stay dreams.


Reminds me of...

 By: Jurry : July 2nd, 2019-12:03
Somehow that blue two door reminds me a bit of the very early Saab’s

Also aircraft producers by origin and it shows in the aerodynamics.

Great Concours you’ve been to. Love the pictures thanks for sharing

My favourite Bristol.... Type 188

 By: Cpt Scarlet : July 2nd, 2019-14:21

Hahaha. [nt]

 By: M4 : July 2nd, 2019-16:28
No message body

Some very nice cars for sure, rather quirky in their design but luxurious and very confortable!

 By: eklektik : July 4th, 2019-13:15
Some dirty shots of the 403 in Bristol Aerospace Museum where they were originally made.

One thing I don't understand though, is why keep pushing trying to bring back to life something that died? They were good cars then but the recent ones are not my cup of tea at all. And when you know you could buy several classic for the price of a new one, it is a no brainer to me!



I didn't know it used a BMW engine! [nt]

 By: amanico : July 4th, 2019-13:20
No message body

Yes, there was clearly two phases in their production: the BMW era followed by the Chrysler. Glad to teach you something, first time ;) [nt]

 By: eklektik : July 4th, 2019-13:27
No message body

We all learn from everyone, here. [nt]

 By: amanico : July 4th, 2019-13:47
No message body

Forgot to say that the company origins are interesting too:

 By: eklektik : July 4th, 2019-13:22
copies of BMW (bodywork and engines) with drawings "taken" from Germany following WW2 that then slowly became its own brand with its own identity.

Yes, very interesting. Thanks for the education. [nt]

 By: amanico : July 4th, 2019-13:47
No message body