20th Sep, 2023 12:00

30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

Lot 415

1958 Bristol Wingfield Special
Built by the very highly regarded engineer Bryan Wingfield

Lot details

Registration No: FHI 747
Chassis No: 406/5154
MOT: Exempt

  • Racing Special manufactured by renowned engineer Bryan Wingfield
  • Extensively competed in-period at hillclimbs, sprints, and on track being driven by Jill Hutchinson, Bryan Wingfield, and Tony Densham
  • Recently comprehensively mechanically overhauled by Spencer Lane-Jones, including a full engine overhaul and extensive lightening programme
  • Has competed in numerous FISCAR and BDC events
  • Entered from the collection of the late Bristol aficionado Brian May, in which it has resided since 1985

What a golden age the 1950s were for fans of sporting machinery. Besides the mainstream models from MG, Triumph, Austin-Healey, et al, there were a plethora of companies offering stylish bodies with which to upcycle a humble Austin Seven or Ford Eight. While those with deeper pockets were served by a whole cottage industry of up-and-coming racing car constructors. It was an exciting time peppered with names that would enter into motoring folklore: Lotus and Cooper, Costin and Lola, and plenty more. Back-street cars that could give the big boys a run for their money, with Bryan Wingfield interested in testing his chances in the Special building world. Producing his first Ford Special at the age of 17, he followed with the Bristol Special offered here (which later became known as the Bristol Wingfield Special) while still living in Glasgow, which he described as his first ‘modern car’. It was here that he was introduced to the famous Ecurie Ecosse racing team and their D-Type Jaguar. Leaving Scotland in 1960 having completed his college studies and engineering apprenticeship with Albion Motors, he joined the Ford Motor Company, forging a name for himself with Ford and the development of the GT40 in particular, learning greatly about race car design. Later very highly regarded and known for his exceptional quality of his work, reverse engineering, and creating incredibly accurate recreations of the lightweight E-Type, XJ13, C-Type, and D-Type.

Acquiring a Bristol Sports engine and gearbox in 1958 with a view to building his second competitive Special, the starting point of the Wingfield Special was originally registered ‘XGA 876’. With styling inspired by the Connaught B-Type Grand Prix car (widened out to a two-seater), the Wingfield was based around a part monocoque, space frame chassis with a stressed skin bodywork utilsing pop-riveted aluminium panelling and cycle wings. Originally running the Bristol racing engine, it was fed by triple Solex carburettors allied to a close ratio gearbox with 405 gearshift, and a ZF ally limited-slip differential, all of which were purchased from Frank Elliot of Middlesborough who was running a 1955 Lister Bristol sports racing car at the time (‘4 CNO’) and would tragically lose his life testing a Lister-Jaguar in 1960. De Dion rear coil suspension with telescopic dampers and wishbone front suspension that was also acquired from Frank Elliot was fitted, with Rack and Pinion steering providing direction. Initially using Dunlop ex-Connaught calipers, these were quickly changed for Girling iron calipers from a TR2/3 and then Girling aluminium BR units.

Weighing in at 640 kilos and with an alleged 140bhp on tap, the Wingfield Special was quick in period and soon became a regular competitor on Scottish events in the late 1950s and early 1960s at events such as Charterhall, Bo’ness, Rest & Be Thankful, Crimond, and Turnbury. Mostly competing in the hands of Bryan Wingfield himself in the early competition days, Wingfield remembered competing at Rest & Be Thankful against future Formula One legend Jim Clark, (very early in his racing history) who was at the wheel of a TR2. In 1960, a meeting between Bryan Wingfield and Jill Hutchinson at Charterhall (who was racing a Lotus VI at the time) led to Jill competing in the Wingfield Special alongside Bryan Wingfield. Racing at Prescott, Leighton Hall, and RAF Ouston events, achievements included a 3rd in Class at Leighton Hall (May 1960), Best Performance on Handicap and 1st in Class at Catterick (1960), Fastest Lady Driver in a Sports Car at Prescott (May 1961), 2nd in Class at Bo’ness (June 1960), and 3rd in Class at Charterhall (July 1961). An interesting Autosport magazine article from 1961 about a Silverstone handicap race reports ‘B Wingfield (Bristol), 15 secs down on the winner, went like blazes but couldn’t quite catch the Morgan – even though he did cross the line in second place backwards!’.

Upon joining Ford, the relationship became more difficult, with Bryan Wingfield having to change his allegiance to his employer's brand, and in his own words: 'had decided he was no good as a driver'. He produced a Terrier Mk2 for Hutchinson who competed this for several seasons and arranged for the experienced Tony Densham to race the Bristol Special, regularly competed the car at events such as Silverstone, Snetterton, and Hillclimb events. Known successes at events included 1st in Class at Snetterton (1961), 1st in Class at Silverstone (1961), and 1st in Class at West Essex Speed Trials (1963). Becoming non-competitive against the 2-litre Climax Cooper and similarly engined Lotus’, Bryan Wingfield was offered a swap for a D-Type Jaguar but declined with the D-Type owner wanting £50 towards the deal.

Selling the original Bristol racing engine and close ratio gearbox privately (which went on to be used in a Bristol 400 for sprint events), the rolling chassis was sold to a couple of medical students for the agreed sum of £150. The students paid £50 up front, taking the car, with Bryan never hearing from them again. Subsequently known to have been offered in the Exchange & Mart as a project in 1978, the Wingfield was purchased by Peter Williams, who re-assembled the Special and pressed it back into competition across the next three seasons with the HSCC, usually being incorrectly entered as 'The Lister Bristol'. It was then advertised under this name in Thoroughbred & Classic Magazine in 1981 for the sum of £6,800 and acquired by Bristol exponent John Bradburn who had a use for the engine that was fitted at the time, before moving the rolling chassis to a gentleman residing in Glasgow.

Meanwhile, well-renowned Bristol aficionado, Brian May was actively looking to find the location of the Bristol Wingfield Special to acquire into his ownership. By coincidence, the gentleman of Glasgow called Brian May to enquire about the cost of purchasing the correct type running gear for the Wingfield, with the telephone call concluding so the gentleman could consider the cost quoted. Deeming it too expensive, Mr. May received a call a few weeks later asking if he wished to purchase the car requiring running gear, at which point, Brian May realised said car was the Wingfield Special and a deal was struck in 1985. Fitted with a 100B type engine (reputedly running a ‘hot camshaft’ by Brian May, the Wingfield was soon turning its wheels in anger, taking part in a Curborough sprint event in 1988 with Brian May at the helm (photograph on file) and further BDC events, with the car pictured at the 1988 BOC Concours. During the following years, Brian is known to have researched the Wingfield Special's credentials and racing history to allow its participation again in on-track events.

Following several years residing in the Bristol filled polytunnel at Brian Mays home/premises, in 2012 he decided to loan the Special to Peter Campbell (of Spencer Lane-Jones Ltd; SL-J) for the Wingfield to see competitive use again. A full recommissioning was supplied to the Wingfield Special with the 100B2 engine and gearbox provided full services with new starting equipment, overhauled carburettors with new jets, all hoses replaced, most of the wiring renewed, and fuel pump refreshed; radiator flushed; brakes overhauled; refurbished steering column; suspension serviced; silencing incorporated into the exhaust system; and a new set of tyres fitted with the cost of work completed surpassing £5,100. Performing very well at its first event at the AC Sprint at Goodwood in November 2013, ‘FHI 747’ took home the SL-J Trophy.

For the 2013 season, the ‘May’ engine (as it was referred to on the work summaries) was removed for preservation for future use, and replaced by a restored SL-J engine, allied to crank, flywheel, and clutch from Basset Down Engineering. Next was the removal of all the Special’s paintwork to the bare aluminium presentation as it is now. The cooling system was refreshed with a new aluminium radiator with electric fan and alloy coolant pipework remade with work completed reaching approximately £2,000. Subsequently competing in the Fifties Sports Car Racing Club (FISCAR) race meeting at Castle Coombe in October 2013, a 7th overall and Best in Class was achieved, as well as participation in a sprint competition at Goodwood.

Further work completed by SL-J in October 2013 comprised re-faced drum mounting surfaces, with new front discs, re-shimming the front suspension uprights and lubrication to the suspension, and new Dunlop racing tyres, with improvements surpassing £2,600. Well raced and achieving a number of successes, some of the race participations including VSCC at Silverstone in April 2014; FISCAR Castle Coombe race at the 50s Inter-Marque in October 2014 achieving 3rd in Class; Bentley Drivers Club race meet at Silverstone in August 2015; FISCAR Castle Coombe October 2015; FISCAR Tom Cole Trophy at Silverstone achieving Best in Class and 7th overall in April 2016; FISCAR Tom Cole Trophy at Silverstone achieving 3rd in Class; and Bentley Drivers Club race meeting in August 2017 at 3rd in Class and 8th overall.

With Peter Campbell feeling that the Bristol Special needed improvements to increase its competitivity having been running mostly mid-grid in 2017 (having competed twice at Silverstone in BDC and VSCC events), the Bristol was supplied with a comprehensive mechanical overhaul by Spencer Lane-Jones. The engine build was completed by Lee Keller, SL-J engine builder, and by his own admission is a special setup with an obsessive weight reduction process provided to the engine, which is known to have reduced the weight by at least 25kg. Using a 100-series 405 block, an Arnolt Bristol crank with no counterweights, lightweight titanium rods, Cosworth forged pistons, a ‘fast road’ cam which is retarded for power, while at the top end, the normal push rods were used with larger valves fitted along with rockers that were direct copies of the Bristol 450 Le Mans car and were lightened and polished. Extensive flow work to the head (with 11.67:1 compression) was undertaken with overhauled carburettors fitted as well as a lightweight starter.

The weight loss programme carried through to the bell housings, and a Borg Warner gearbox unit with Rod McPherson close ratio gear set (a direct copy of the Bob Gerard Cooper Bristol gear set) and the differential from a later 411 (which is thought to be a 4.1:1) in a very rare 3HA aluminium bodied axle. An MGB clutch allied to iron racing flywheel is utilsed with a short driftshaft and balanced propshaft completing the running gear. Carefully set up on a rolling road, the Wingfield produced 140+bhp with a lovely power delivery. Meanwhile, while the engine was under completion, the Wingfield was still racing with an SL-J ‘pool’ engine, competing in three FISCAR events in 2021 at Silverstone and Castle Coombe. Upon fitment of the completed engine for the special, the Wingfield completed in one race on the newly built engine at the hands of Peter Campbell (who was mindful that the engine was completely new and therefore restricted to 5500rpm) before the sad passing of Brian May, leaving the full potential for the Wingfield on its race prepared engine remaining unexplored.

The large accompanying history file comprises documentation and images relating to the early racing history; a letter from Bryan Wingfield about the car; numerous invoices including the SL-J ones relating to the race preparation; race programmes and documentation for the 2010s; technical literature; an original specification summary; a few original style MOTs; sundry paperwork; and a current V5C document. A historic and well-known Bristol that is highly capable on track and was race prepared by Spencer Lane-Jones in 2018, this is a fantastic opportunity to get out on track at prestigious racing circuits in a historical car.

With thanks to Peter Campbell and Lee Keller for the assistance with the catalogue text.

For more information, please contact:
Paul Cheetham
07538 667452


All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

You can collect your new pride and joy from our venue until 1pm the day following the sale or our partners are on hand to help arrange safe transportation:


Auction: 30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 20th Sep, 2023

Established in 1993, H&H has sold some of the world's most significant motorcars and motorcycles over the past 30 years. Now owned by its employees and trusted by over 75,000 clients worldwide, we are the longest established auction house of our kind in Europe.


Buyers, bidders and attendees will enjoy a special day in the prestigious Imperial War Museum with some fantastic treats including.
Drinks Reception   |   Music   |   Guest Speakers

With each successful bidder receiving a specially selected hamper.

Watch the website for more details.


To take part in the bidding action please click 'Register to Bid | Sign In' at the top of the page



Tuesday 19th September 2023 from 1pm to 8pm
Wednesday 20th September 2023 from 9am


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