1950 Bristol 401
Year of manufacture1950
Chassis number401 274
Number of seats2
1950 Bristol 401 Sports Saloon
Registration no. KDD 124
Chassis no. 401 274
'It will comfortably carry four people; in addition to them it will swallow an almost fabulous volume of luggage. It will sustain 80-90mph from dawn until the cows some home... and it is built with all the painstaking care and thoroughness which have made the products of the City of Bristol famous throughout the world.' - The Motor.
With the introduction of the 401 - the first of its exquisitely styled Aerodynes - Bristol began to move away from the pre-war design the company had inherited from BMW. Carrozzeria Touring provided the Superleggera method of body construction that overlaid alloy panels on a lightweight tubular-steel framework, while the low-drag shape was achieved after hours of experimentation in Bristol's wind tunnel. It had been intended that the Milan-based carrozzeria would build the first 200 cars, but this idea was abandoned after a mere handful of prototypes had been completed. The 401 continued to use its predecessor's running gear and BMW-based, 2.0-litre, six-cylinder engine with its ingeniously arranged, pushrod-operated inclined valves. The gearbox remained a manual four-speed unit with first-gear freewheel. The 401's aircraft-industry standard of construction did not come cheap however - at £2,270 it cost as much as an Aston Martin DB2 - and only 611 of these exclusive cars found customers between 1948 and 1953.
Its stunning black coachwork gives this classic Bristol motor car remarkable presence, while the interior is upholstered in contrasting maroon-piped magnolia leather with light red carpets, which combine to give the cabin a warm and comfortable feel. An early model identified as such by its square-edged bottom sill, ivory-coloured instruments, and indicator switch on the top of the steering column, the car shows little sign of wear or age and presents very well.
Mechanically, this 401 has been very well kept with regular maintenance and repairs carried out to ensure that it remains in good order. This car is largely original, with the only modifications being the worthwhile additions of a brake servo and an overdrive unit, both sympathetically installed.
The car comes with a history file containing invoices and bills for works carried out dating back to 2008/2009, while there is other documentation dating back to 1972. Recent work includes a complete overhaul of the braking system in November 2017 by Spencer Lane-Jones Ltd.