Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Bristol's big seller - Bristol 401

28 10 10 Erratum this blog was originally posted with pics I thought were of a Bristol 401 in good faith, however it has transpired thanks to Sinclairstinton & Geoffrey Hawkins at BOCForum@yahoogroups that the car pictured was in fact a Bristol 403.

Since the information posted on the 401 has proved useful and interesting to at least one Bristol owner I have decided to remove the original pictures from the text and write a new blog to cover the Bristol 403, and post new photo's of 401's kindly sourced from the archive of Teb Marius and taken by John Lomas. The original text remains with additions in italic :-

Source Teb Marius

Continuing the 100th anniversary of the Bristol aeroplane company todays vehicle is the Bristol 401, which took its styling direction from a prototype by Carrozzeria Touring in 1948. The big external change from the Bristol 400 was the addition of large side lights in the front wing and hidden door handles.

Source Teb Marius

Internally the BMW based 6 cylinder engine was upgraded from 80 to 85 hp with the use of improved carburettors.

Source Teb Marius

The 401 had a very low drag coefficient of the order of 0.36 comparable to many modern vehicles, which helped the vehicle reach 97.3 mph. Between 1948 and 1953 611 of these vehicles were built making it Bristol's all time best seller !

The model was so popular that in 1955 Mr. and Mrs. Glasby in a Bristol 401 with a total of 1497 points won class B of the second Ndola Rally in Northern Rhodesia now known as Zambia.

Note: Teb did offer some photos of 401's in concours condition however I am a huge fan of original patina and will always show vehicles on this blog with original patina over re sprayed vehicles where I have the choice.


Posted with kind permission of the copyright owner John Lomas.

As can be seen from the fabulous photo above the 401 (green closest to the camera) and 403 are almost indistinguishable if like me your not an expert, the 403 has a small chrome numeral badge to the rear of the bonnet, the bumper grill is chromed on the 403, there is a chrome numeral badge on the boot of the 403 and the roundel on the 403 Bristol badges are dark red as opposed to the orange on the 401.

Apologies for any confusion arising from my original post thanks to everyone who helped correct the error.

Thanks for popping by, wishing everyone a thriving Tuesday, don't forget to come back now !


  1. The body "sculpting" on that vehicle is amazing.

  2. Particularly around the headlights, one wonder how many hours it took to make a front wing panel ?

  3. Note the Body of the 401 and 403 were almost identical apart from a chrome bumper grill and some badges.