1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 403/1385

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Lot 1
1953 Bristol 403

Sold for £ 56,350 (US$ 70,961) inc. premium
1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon
Registration no. RHT 403
Chassis no. 403/1385
*One of only 281 produced
*Award-winning car
*Well documented
*Restored in the mid-1980s
*Overdrive transmission

Footnotes

  • 'The latest Bristol combines to a greater extent than its predecessors, the qualities of a thoroughbred sports car with those of a luxurious touring car. I have the impression – supported by friends who own Bristols – that the standards insisted on by the makers will ensure thousands of miles of trouble-free – and therefor economical – motoring. In view of its excellent performance, stability, finish and refinement, the Bristol cannot be regarded as an expensive car.' – John Eason Gibson, 'Country Life', on the Bristol 403.

    With the introduction of the 401 - the first of its exquisitely styled aerodynes - Bristol began to move away from the pre-war design the company had inherited from BMW. Carrozzeria Touring provided the Superleggera method of body construction that overlaid alloy panels on a lightweight tubular-steel framework, while the low-drag shape was achieved after hours of experimentation in the Bristol Aeroplane Company's wind tunnel. The 401 continued to use its predecessor's running gear and BMW-based, 2.0-litre, six-cylinder engine with its ingeniously arranged, pushrod-operated, inclined valves. The gearbox remained a manual four-speed unit with first-gear freewheel. With the introduction of the 403 in 1953, Bristol improved on what was already an exemplary Grand Tourer, the newcomer's apparently unchanged appearance disguising a number of important changes. The engine remained a 2.0-litre six of basically BMW design but the alloy cylinder head was new and helped liberate 100bhp, up from 85. The increase in straight-line performance (top speed was now in excess of 100mph) was matched by improvements to the running gear in the form of a front anti-roll bar and finned light-alloy brake drums.

    This fine example of one of the most highly prized of early Bristols claimed a Silver Award for the Bristol Owners' Club at the 1996 'Classic and Sportscar Show', and was chosen to represent the 403 in the 1998 Palawan Press publication: 'A Private Car, an Account of The Bristol' by the much-missed LJK Setright.
    First registered in 1953 as 'RHT 403', the Bristol was originally finished in black with Burgundy interior trim. The car comes with an extensive file of history that includes a list of owners, mileage records, assorted correspondence, and a substantial quantity of invoices issued by qualified motor engineer Spencer Lane-Jones, who first worked on it back in the mid-1980s. In a valuation letter on file (dated 22nd October 1991), Mr Lane-Jones states: 'The car is in outstanding restored condition mechanically, structurally and cosmetically having been the subject of a total restoration to a very high standard commencing about 6 years ago. It has had little use since and is now one of the best extant examples of the model.'

    The Bristol was acquired by the current owner acquired in 2002, having previously been registered to Dr Robin Eaglen of Wokingham, Surrey (from March 1995). Described by the vendor as in generally good condition, this rare and highly desirable Bristol aerodyne is offered with an old-style logbook, current MoT certificate, a VC5 document for the most appropriate registration 'RHT 403', and the aforementioned history file.
Contacts
1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 403/1385
1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 403/1385
1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 403/1385
1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 403/1385
1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 403/1385
1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 403/1385
1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 403/1385
1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon  Chassis no. 403/1385
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