Two Bristols that neatly bookend the firm’s seven decades of car production have found new homes, GRR can reveal.
The first Bristol, the 400, has taken up residence as one of the star cars in Bristol’s burgeoning collection based at the company’s Brentford (west London) service and restoration centre.
And, in very different vein, and coming almost 70 years later, the last of the 14 Fighters made between 2003 and 2010 has at last been sold. The 200mph, carbon-fibre-bodied, coupe is off to its new owner any day now.
It will be the last Fighter for sure, but also the last Bristol? To be accurate that would be ‘latest’ not ‘last’, for, as we have already reported, there’s a new car on the way – ‘Project Pinnacle’ – which will be revealed later this year. If you have survived (in Bristol’s case often against the odds) your three score years and 10, then it’s only right you should celebrate with a new car.
But back to the blue Fighter, which was being readied for delivery when GRR dropped by for a catch-up. Typically for Bristol the owner wishes to remain anonymous, but what we do know is that they paid £175,000 for it, that they are an existing Bristol owner, are international in business and domicile, and are not in the entertainment industry. Which narrows it down a bit. Perhaps.
This particular Fighter has been stored, unused and unregistered, since it was built at the old factory in Filton in 2009 and the original sale fell through. It has just 73 miles on the clock. While it was under the dustsheet Bristol has gone bust, been rescued, and seen the passing of its enigmatic owner Tony Crook.
Today this brave last hurrah certainly looks as box-fresh as you would imagine it to be, and as imposing, in a gentlemanly way, as all Fighters are. Bristol’s supercar – actually its first all-new car for 40 years when it first surfaced as a concept at the Festival of Speed in 2003 – is rather more ‘Bristol’ than ‘supercar’. Forget your typical low-slung sportster with no luggage space that’s difficult to get into, see out of and park. The Fighter is big and tall, with huge windows, spacious cabin, big load deck and a turning circle to shame some hatchbacks. All that and gullwing doors and, apparently, ‘weapons grade’ titanium knobs on the dash!
It will also do 200mph or more, according to reports at the time of its launch. This storming performance was thanks to decent aerodynamics (Bristol used to make planes of course, and the influence is said to be still ingrained) and the 525bhp, 8.0-litre, V10 lump from the Dodge Viper (the planned turbo version with 1050bhp never did make it to production). The few testers who did drive the Fighter gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up; Evo magazine handed it four stars.
We don’t know about that because, understandably, this car wasn’t for driving today. Unlike the Bristol 400, then. The first car to be produced after the Bristol Aeroplane Company took over Frazer Nash in summer 1945 and started dreaming of bespoke barouches for gentlemen rather than WW2 bombers…
Photography by Tom Shaxson