Bristol's line of V8-engined sports saloons began in 1961 with the 407, though in appearance the newcomer closely resembled the preceding six-cylinder 406. The adoption of Chrysler V8 power came not before time, as Bristol's 2.0-litre BMW-based engine had effectively been outgrown by the car's increasingly weighty coachwork. With 250bhp (more than double the 406's output) available from its 5.1 litres and a top speed of 125mph, the 407 re-established the Bristol as a true high-performance car but one which nevertheless retained all the refinement and luxury associated with the marque. The 406's four-wheel disc brakes were, naturally, retained for its successor, which came with Chrysler's Torqueflite automatic transmission as standard equipment and coil-spring front suspension in place of the previous transverse-leaf set-up.
The Bristol V8 chassis was up-dated and the styling revised periodically throughout the 1960s, the process culminating in the 411 of 1969. In the meantime, Bristol had managed to sell only 88 of the 407s, 83 of the 408, and 74 of the 409. The 408 had been comprehensively restyled compared with the 407, with a wide grille incorporating quadruple headlamps replacing the aircraft-type air intake of the earlier car, as well as a lower stance. Almost identical to the 408 externally, the 409 (introduced in 1965) boasted a slightly larger (5,211cc) engine, Girling brakes instead of Dunlop, and, on later cars, power assisted steering.
'Built for those who can afford - and appreciate - the best,' the Bristol was one of the select few hand-assembled British luxury cars, whose roots in the aircraft industry mean that its manufacturing standards were exceptionally high. Such attention to detail gives the Bristol a very special cachet indeed ...
Running and driving well, the rare Bristol 409 offered here is an older restored example that still presents beautifully. The vendor purchased the car in April 1989 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 a 1-mile circuit over which the cars have been regularly warmed up prior to use.
Finished in dark green with original red leather interior, silver wheels, and excellent chrome, this fine example of a true connoisseur's Gran Turismo is offered with a V5C document and current MoT expiring July 2019.