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Lot 082: Bristol 400

Classic Car, Motorcycle & Automobilia, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (24 June 2009)

The Bristol Aeroplane Company had been manufacturing airplanes and engines since 1910 but turned its thoughts to car manufacture in 1944 to ensure peace-time employment for its workers. As part of Germany's war reparations, Bristol obtained a set of blueprints and plans which had been drawn up by BMW in 1939 to update their own model range.

The first fruit of this windfall was the 1947 Bristol 400 which used the best features of three outstanding pre-war BMWs, namely the engine of the 326, the body of the 327 and the chassis of the 328. Modified by Bristol's own engineers, all the parts came together beautifully and a most elegant sporting saloon was born.

The six-cylinder 2-litre engine produced 80bhp and could propel the car to a top speed of 92mph with acceleration to match. To keep weight down, boot, bonnet and doors were in aluminium. Suspension was independent at the front with a transverse leaf spring, and a live axle at the rear with torsion bars. The gearbox was a four-speed manual with synchromesh on the top three ratios and freewheel on first, quite a novelty at the time. The 400 had a fair degree of competition success and successfully completed the Mille Miglia in 1949.

About 1,000 examples were made before it was replaced by the 401 in 1950, most of which were sold to Australia. Today only about 300 are thought to survive worldwide, only 85 of them in the UK, making them a very rare sight on the roads.

First registered in 1948, this particular car is a later model which has the spare wheel mounted on the boot lid for increased luggage capacity. Recently retrieved from long term storage the car is said to be in generally sound condition but will now need a fair amount of restoration and recommissioning before it can be put back on the road. We are told that the engine turns freely and has been started fairly recently. Altogether a most intriguing project that should amply reward the work that is now required.

Lot Details
Auction Classic Car, Motorcycle & Automobilia
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster
TypeCar
Lot Number082
Estimate£9000-£11000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£14400
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1948
Condition rating0
Registration numberKYR 447
Mileage-
Chassis number400/1/561
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors