1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-400

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Lot 624
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon
Registration no. RSU 111 Chassis no. 400-1-400

Sold for £ 17,825 (US$ 24,186) inc. premium
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon
Registration no. RSU 111
Chassis no. 400-1-400

Footnotes

  • Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery; nevertheless it seems unlikely that BMW’s engineers felt especially gratified when the Bristol Car Company obtained the rights to their automotive designs as part of Germany’s post-WW2 reparations. Thus it transpired that the Bristol 400, which commenced production in 1947, was effectively a synthesis of three pre-war BMW designs, with a chassis derived from that of the 326, an engine from the 328 sports car and an aerodynamic bodyshell similar to that of the 327 coupé. Not content merely to copy the work of its German counterparts, Bristol applied aviation industry standards to the 400’s manufacture, achieving a car more refined and considerably better constructed than its Teutonic forbears.
    The BMW 328’s l,971cc six-cylinder engine had featured an ingenious cylinder head incorporating hemispherical combustion chambers and inclined valves without recourse to overhead camshafts; instead, the Type 319 engine’s single block-mounted camshaft and pushrod valve actuation were retained, thus avoiding an expensive redesign. Two rocker shafts were employed, one situated above each bank of valves, giving the engine an external appearance almost indistinguishable from that of a twin-overhead-cam design. Externally, Bristol’s Type 85A clone of the BMW motor differed little from the German original, the most obvious difference being the adoption of SU, rather than Solex, carburettors part way through production. The most significant changes made by the Bristol designers were metallurgical, their utilisation of the highest-quality materials contributing to increased engine life. A maximum output of 80bhp was claimed, good enough for a top speed of around 95mph.
    The 400’s aerodynamically efficient body was constructed of steel panels on a wood frame, with doors, bonnet and boot-lid of aluminium. Beneath the skin, the chassis boasted independent front suspension by single upper wishbones and lower transverse leaf spring, while torsion bars located within the chassis members controlled the live rear axle. Contrasting with the exterior’s modern appearance, the traditional wood-embellished interior harked back to an earlier age. In total, 474 Bristol 400s were made between 1947 and 1950.
    The vendor purchased this example in 1997, undertaking extensive renovation during 1998/99 that included bodywork restoration and repainting at Paulespury Motors, interior re-trim and electrical rewiring. The cylinder head was overhauled by Bristol Motors who also supplied a new block and pistons, which were installed by Marquis Cars of Sible Hedingham, Essex in 2005. A mere 2,000-or-so miles have been covered since 1998/99. Finished in maroon with brown-piped cream interior, ‘RSU 111’ is offered with restoration invoices, current road fund licence/MoT and Swansea V5 document.
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-400
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-400
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