Classic Van Auction Talk

Tuesday 2 April 2019

1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon - BONHAMS AUCTIONS GOODWOOD MEMBERS MEETING Goodwood, Goodwood Estate, Chichester PO18 0PX Sunday 7th April 2019


Goodwood, Goodwood Estate, Chichester PO18 0PX
Sunday 7th April 2019

1953 Bristol 403 Sports Saloon
Registration no. LOY 555
Chassis no. 403/1346
*One of only 281 produced
*Recently rebuilt engine
*Remote control gearchange
*Overdrive transmission

    • 'The latest Bristol combines to a greater extent than its predecessors, the qualities of a thoroughbred sports car with those of a luxurious touring car. I have the impression – supported by friends who own Bristols – that the standards insisted on by the makers will ensure thousands of miles of trouble-free – and therefore economical – motoring. In view of its excellent performance, stability, finish and refinement, the Bristol cannot be regarded as an expensive car.' – John Eason Gibson, 'Country Life', on the Bristol 403.

    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 the Bristol Aeroplane Company's wind tunnel. 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. With the introduction of the 403 in 1953, Bristol improved on what was already an exemplary Grand Tourer, the newcomer's apparently unchanged appearance disguising a number of important changes. The engine remained a 2.0-litre six of basically BMW design but the alloy cylinder head was new and helped liberate 100bhp, up from 85. The increase in straight-line performance (top speed was now in excess of 100mph) was matched by improvements to the running gear in the form of a front anti-roll bar and finned light-alloy brake drums.

    First registered in 1953 as 'LOY 555', this Bristol was originally supplied by Anthony Crook Motors and has had several long-term owners who have maintained it carefully, the most recent from 1990 through to 2013. It is mechanically excellent, the original engine having recently been rebuilt by specialists (invoice in file), and is fitted with desirable upgrades. It has a remote-control gear lever and overdrive, which contribute greatly to the car's usability and which were available on later production 403s. The car presents very well; the Smoke Grey paint is fairly recent and in excellent condition, the very smart interior has recently been re-trimmed in beige with blue piping and grey carpets, and the dashboard woodwork has been re-varnished.

    Described by the vendor as in very good condition and drives well, this rare and highly desirable Bristol aerodyne is offered with a good history file including recent invoices and Bristol Owners Club data, old-style green logbooks, and a V5C registration document.


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