13th Mar, 2024 13:00

Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

  Lot 42

1948 Bristol 400

Estimated at £25,000 - £30,000

Lot details

Registration No: JNF 506
Chassis No: 400-1-378
MOT: Exempt

  • Very original and solid example that can be used as is
  • Comprehensive history file, dating back to 1973
  • V5C records 2 previous owners until 2023, when acquired by the vendor
  • Mille Miglia eligible model

With the support of the War Reparations Board, the rights to manufacture the BMW 326, 327 and 328 and their famed six-cylinder engine were secured by the Bristol Aeroplane Company’s fledgling Car Division in 1946. Place a pre-war BMW 327 alongside Bristol's first offering, the 400, and the ancestry is self-evident, but there were many differences. The decision to make it a four-seater saw it based on the longer chassis of the 326. The aircraft grade Bristol body was more streamlined than that of the 327, while Bristol developed the already impressive 328 engine into one of the finest 2-litre units of the period, which powered not only all Bristol models until 1961, but various sports and racing cars from AC, Arnolt, Cooper, Frazer Nash, Lister, Lotus and Tojeiro. The 400's interior trim was an unmistakably British blend of leather and wood. With its lithe 1170kg kerb weight, rack and pinion steering, independent front suspension, torsion bar controlled rear axle and four-wheel drum brakes, the Bristol was among the fastest and best handling saloons of its generation capable of humbling rivals with far larger engines. However, such excellence did not come cheap and only 487 examples of the 400 were made.

First registered in May 1948, Chassis 378 has one previous recorded owner until 2002 when the previous owner purchased the car from our Buxton auction. In 1973, it was sent for a complete restoration which included having the engine, gearbox and suspension completely overhauled and the invoices from Bristol Cars are still available in the history file. The interior was re-trimmed and the carpets, headlining and leather work were refurbished and we understand that the car won the trophy for the best 400 at the 1976 Bristol Owners' Club Concours d'Elegance. It has completed just over 10,000 miles since 1974 and is completely original even down to the HMV radio. Unfortunately, shortly after the previous owner purchased the car it suffered some fuelling issues which resulted in a small, but luckily contained, fire around the carburettors which burnt the paint off the bonnet cowling. The car was subsequently taken to a classic car repair garage in Kent who got the car back to running standard and the vendor then put the car away for 20 years until we pulled it out of its resting place in dry storage in 2023. This did, however, preserve what must be one of the most original Bristol 400s available.

The current owner purchased the car from H&H in 2023 with a view to full restoration. He set about repairing the car to see if it would run and without much work found that a thought to be seized engine was merely a soft seize and having stripped the engine down discovered that it was all in very fine order. He then reassembled the engine fitting a new oil filter and air cleaner box that was missing when acquired, cleaned the fuel tank and fuel lines, refurbished the fuel pump and nursed the car back into life and the vendor now advises that the car runs very well indeed and remarkably that all of the gauges work and so do the electrics. He also decided at this point to remove all of the barn-find dust from the car and professionally repaint the bonnet and now the car presents in fine 'oily rag' condition. The vendor has now unfortunately lost storage space and has chosen to move this fantastic Bristol on for another prospective owner to enjoy and improve as they see fit. This rare example comes with a good documentation folder that includes lots of previous MOTs, the driver's handbook and workshop manual, a spares list and a number of invoices for work that has been carried out on the vehicle over the years.

For more information, please contact:
Lucas Gomersall
07484 082430


Auction: Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 13th Mar, 2024

An auction of classic, collector and performance motorcars to be held at the iconic and visually stunning Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Venue Details 

To enquire about entering your classic or performance car into the auction please call our sales office on 01925 210035, email sales@HandH.co.uk or click here: Enter Your Classic Motorcar 

All our professional valuations are complimentary and without obligation.

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Tues 12th March from 12pm
Wed 13th March from 9am

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

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