Wed, 7th Dec 2016 14:30

Chateau Impney

  Lot 37

1952 Bristol 401

Sold for £38,250

(including buyers premium)

Lot details
Registration No: VSJ 780
Chassis No: 401/1094
Mot Expiry: Exempt

- 1 of just 618 made, matching chassis and engine numbers

- Recent bare metal repaint, sundry rechroming and mechanical recommissioning

"This, indeed, is the car for the connoisseur. It can only be modesty on the part of the Bristol publicity boys which has prevented them from quoting as the 401's slogan 'The Best Car in Britain'" (Motor Sport magazine, January 1953).

Introduced in Autumn 1949, the 401 was characterised by its super-smooth, aerodynamic bodywork. Honed in the Bristol Aeroplane Company's wind tunnel and built using Milanese coachbuilder Touring's 'Superleggera' technique, it boasted a commendably lithe kerb weight (c.2,700lbs). Equipped with transverse-leaf independent front suspension and hydraulic drum brakes, the newcomer proved a notably fine handler taking Touring Class wins on both the Cannes and Tulip Rallies during 1951. Powered by a 1971cc OHV straight-six engine allied to four-speed manual transmission, the elegant sports saloon promised nigh-on 100mph performance. Only in production for four years (by which time a mere 618 are thought to have been made), the model's exclusive £3,212 13s 4d price tag was a reflection of the aircraft quality materials used in its construction.

Supplied new by Anthony Crook Ltd of Hersham, Surrey, this particular example - chassis 401/1094 - was dry stored for some sixteen years prior to entering the current ownership. An enthusiast who had driven Bristols on various historic rallies, the vendor treated `VSJ 780' to a bare metal repaint and sundry rechroming plus some sympathetic mechanical recommissioning. As well as a new cylinder head gasket, the original `matching numbers' engine benefited from new core plugs, flushed out waterways and overhauled carburettors. The radiator core was attended to as were the water pump, starter solenoid, wiring and brakes. Finished in Cambridge Grey Metallic with Dark Blue leather upholstery, the Bristol is variously described by the vendor as being in `good' (electrical equipment), `very good' (bodywork, paintwork, engine, interior trim) or `excellent' (gearbox) condition. Offered for sale with parts manual invoices and various vehicle documents.

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