Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Going it alone - Bristol 407

Just 88 Bristol 407's were built between 1961 and 1963.

The 407 was the first Bristol model launched after ownership of the Bristol Car Company had been taken over by the Bristol Aeroplane Company founders grandson Sir George White 3rd Bt in partnership with Bristol's preeminent retailer Tony Crook in September 1960.

The exterior of the Bristol 407 is distinguished from its predecessor the 406, which I have yet to write a blog about, by a horizontal bar across the radiator grill at the front and twin exhaust pipes at the rear.

Underneath the car could not be more different, the 407 is powered by a Canadian built 5130 cc / 313 cui Chrysler V8 connected to a push button operated Torqueflight transmission, a combination which first came to the attention of of Sir Reginald Verdon Smith the Bristol Aeroplane Company director in the 1950's on a private visit to Canada.

Bristol attempted to develop it's own aluminium block V8 in the 1950's but, insufficient experience casting aluminium and lack of capital thanks to the spiralling cost of aircraft development elsewhere in the Bristol group of companies meant that the V8 never got beyond an underdeveloped prototype stage at which crankshaft main bearing housing distortion presented an obstacle to production.

Changing to the Canadian V8 from the hitherto BMW inspired straight 6 necessitated replacing the former transverse leaf front suspension with a pair of coil springs and replacing the highly praised rack and pinion steering with Marles worm driven steering.

The chassis was fitted with Dunlop disc brakes all round and the aluminium body production was moved from Jones Brothers to Park Royal Vehicles in London.

The 407 chassis set out the basic architectural features for all Bristol's with many incremental modifications right through to the introduction of the Bristol Fighter in 2004.

This particular model photographed at a Loton Park VSCC meeting is registered in Sweden, notice that it is a Right Hand Drive model, Sweden switched to Left Hand Drive in September 1967 to bring it into line with it's Scandinavian neighbours.

My thanks to Christopher Balfour who's book 'Bristol Cars a very British story' provided many of the insights in today's blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today's Marles worm driven steering edition of 'Getting a lil' psycho on tyres and that you'll join me again tomorrow for a look at the even rarer Bristol 410. Don't forget to come back now !