Bristol 450 Le Mans racer up for sale with Bonhams|Cars at 81MM

08th April 2024
Simon Ostler

Have you ever seen something as cool as this? Chances are if you were born after 1955 you will never have seen this car before. It’s a Bristol 450 Le Mans that raced at the world’s greatest endurance race in 1954 and ’55, dominating the 2.0-litre class on both occasions.


This specific car is a recreation of those machines that performed so brilliantly at Le Mans, with a rugged reliability that saw all three of Bristol’s entries among the 17 classified finishers in 1954. It had a sad end to life as Bristol pulled out of motorsport following the tragic disaster at Le Mans in 1955, and all 450 cars were dismantled or scrapped.

It was a truly futuristic design when it was racing, the twin-fin body gave it a distinct look among the Triumphs and Frazer Nashes it competed against, and it proved to be impressive from a performance perspective as well.


So to see it rebuilt using a mix of original and newly fabricated parts using numerous points of inspiration is quite something. It features an original steering wheel from the car driven by Jack Fairman, Bristol’s most prominent driver at that time. The rev counter and speedometer are also original pieces provided by Fairman himself.

It’s based on a Bristol 406 chassis of a kind that was used as a development mule for the original car in late 1953, powered by an engine rebuilt to original spec. It’s a ’12-pipe’ six-cylinder Bristol motor fed by three two-choke carburettors. Without a true Le Mans transaxle transmission available, the team behind the recreation were forced to improvise, using a four-speed Bristol gearbox with overdrive.


It's fitted with disc brakes rather than the drums it would have raced with, while the aluminium bodywork has been recreated using 3D rendering tech to hand-craft a shell as close to original as possible. It is of course finished in a grass-green paint that again comes as close as possible to matching the original.

It has been seen in the public over the past few years, attending an event at Goodwood in 2021, while it has also been in action at Silverstone and Castle Combe, it even headlined at Retromobile.


We’d love to see this thing put to use as a regular competition car with a new owner in the near future, and you have your chance to bid on this lot at the Bonhams|Cars Goodwood Members’ Meeting sale on Saturday 13th April.

Saturday tickets, weekend tickets and grandstand passes have now sold out for the 81st Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport. Sunday tickets are limited so book now to join us for the 2024 motorsport season opener. You don’t want to miss it.

Images courtesy of Bonhams|Cars.

  • Bristol

  • 450

  • Le Mans

  • Bonhams|Cars

  • 81MM

  • Members' Meeting

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