1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284

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Lot 80
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon
Registration no. USK 981 Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284

Sold for £ 55,200 (US$ 74,899) inc. premium
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon
Registration no. USK 981
Chassis no. 400-1-368
Engine no. 1284

*Delivered new to Australia
*Matching chassis and engine numbers
*Restored in the late 1990s
*2,400 miles covered since 2003

Footnotes

  • Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery; nevertheless it seems unlikely that BMW's engineers felt particularly gratified when the Bristol Car Company obtained the rights to their automotive designs as part of Germany's post-WW2 reparations. Thus it came about 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. But Bristol did more than simply copy the work of its German counterparts; the application of aviation industry standards to its manufacture resulted in a car more refined and considerably better constructed than its Teutonic forbears.

    The l,971cc six-cylinder engine of the BMW 328 featured an ingenious new cylinder head, designed by Rudolf Schleicher, incorporating hemispherical combustion chambers and inclined valves without recourse to overhead, or twin 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. Downdraft inlet ports contributed to the motor's deep breathing, and its tune-ability made it a popular choice for British racing car constructors, most notably Cooper, during the 1950s. 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 at 4,200rpm was claimed, which was 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 the doors, bonnet and boot-lid skinned in 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.

    Owned by the current vendor for the last seven years, this Bristol 400 was originally sent to Australia and in the late 1990s was acquired by an expatriate Briton who set about a full restoration to a high standard, stripping the car back to a bare shell. As part of the restoration the interior was fully re-trimmed at a cost of several thousand pounds, a not insignificant sum in the 1990s. Having put so much effort into the restoration, its owner decided that the Bristol must return with him to the UK.

    In 1997 the gearbox was subjected to a full rebuild while in 2003 the engine was stripped down and assessed for what work was required; it was subsequently rebuilt at a cost of over £11,000. A full report on the engine, compiled by the company that undertook the rebuild, is in the history file. Other recent works have included re-coring the radiator and servicing the brakes. Noteworthy additional features include an oil cooler, electric cooling fan, brake servo and period HMV/Radiomobile Model 100 radio.

    The car has covered a mere 2,400 miles since 2003 and has been serviced regularly in recent years, including the application of Waxoyl to the underside and chassis, which is in excellent condition. Accompanying documentation consists of sundry restoration invoices, current MoT certificate and a V5C registration document. A rare opportunity to acquire one of these delightful post-war British thoroughbreds.

Saleroom notices

  • Please be advised the correct engine number is 1285 and not as misprinted in the catalogue.
Contacts
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284
1948 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 400-1-368 Engine no. 1284
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