1949 Bristol 400
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1949 Bristol 400 Sports Saloon
Registration no. GCJ 876
Chassis no. 40085A1250
The Bristol Aeroplane Company obtained the rights to BMW's automotive designs as part of Germany's post-WW2 reparations. Thus it came about that the Bristol 400 was effectively a synthesis of three pre-war BMWs, with a chassis derived from that of the 326, an engine from the 328 sports car, and an aerodynamic bodyshell similar to that of the 327 coupé. But Bristol did more than simply copy the work of its German counterparts; the application of aviation industry standards to its manufacture resulted in a car more refined and considerably better constructed than its Teutonic forbears.
The 1,971cc six-cylinder engine of the BMW 328 featured an ingenious cylinder head, designed by Rudolf Schleicher, incorporating hemispherical combustion chambers and inclined valves without recourse to overhead, or twin, camshafts. Externally, Bristol's clone of the BMW motor differed little from the German original, the most obvious difference being the adoption of SU, rather than Solex, carburettors part way through production. The most significant changes made by Bristol's designers were metallurgical, their utilisation of the highest quality materials contributing to increased engine life. A maximum output of 80bhp at 4,200rpm was claimed, which was good enough for a top speed of around 95mph.
The 400's aerodynamically efficient body was constructed of steel panels on a wood frame, with the doors, bonnet and boot-lid skinned in aluminium. Beneath the skin the chassis boasted independent front suspension by single upper wishbones and lower transverse leaf spring, while torsion bars located within the chassis members controlled the live rear axle. Contrasting with the exterior's modern appearance, the traditional wood-embellished interior harked back to an earlier age. In total, 474 Bristol 400s were made between 1947 and 1950.
First registered in the UK in 1978, 'GCJ 876' is an older restored example which still presents well. The car is finished in light green, with original biscuit-piped green leather interior, and has silver painted wheels and good chrome. The vendor purchased the Bristol in September 1985 from Richard Fuggle of Bushey Heath, a well-known and respected specialist. Servicing has been carried out by Martin Barnes at American Cars and later by Bristol Cars themselves in London. This car and its stablemates have always been garaged in a dry, well-aired barn and in recent years maintained in situ by the same mechanic. The estate has an 1-mile circuit over which the cars have been regularly warmed up prior to use. Running and driving well, this beautiful Bristol is offered with a V5C document.