2021 Shannons Autumn Timed Online Auction

1951 Bristol 401 Coupe





Engine 1971cc six-cylinder
Gearbox Four-speed manual
Body Work Coupe
Colour Charcoal Grey
Interior Beige
Trim Vinyl
Wheels Steel
Brakes Drum/drum


This lot is no longer available

Founded in 1945 as an offshoot of the Bristol Aeroplane Company with a view to employing its workforce after World War Two, Bristol’s first model – badged the 400 – was introduced the following year, employing technology from BMW after the British obtained the rights to the German manufacturer’s engines and car designs as war reparations.  Bristol replaced the 400 with the heavily re-styled 401 in 1949, featuring aerodynamic bodywork designed along ‘Superleggera’ principles by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan and refined by the company’s own stylists.  The 85C version of the famous six-cylinder motor switched to triple Solex carburettors in place of the earlier SUs, although the quoted power output remained 85 horsepower at 4500 rpm.  The 401’s box section chassis was largely carried over from the 400, suspended by independent transverse leaf springs up front and longitudinal torsion bars and lever arm or Telescopic dampers at the rear, along with Lockheed 11-inch hydraulic drum brakes all round.  Aided by the sleek lines and highly efficient engine, the 401 could reach 98 mph with acceleration to match and safe, predictable handling.  The beautifully equipped and spacious cockpit with Connolly-clad leather seats providing comfortable seating for four adults and well-appointed dash with comprehensive Smith’s instrumentation in the walnut facia.  Befitting a proper luxury car, the 401 came with a heater, a radio by His Master’s Voice, along with lovely details like the push-button door handles clearly inspired by Bristol’s aviation heritage.  Contemporary road reports lavished praise on the Bristol, Motor Sport’s Bill Boddy commenting the 401 was like “Driving an Epicurean Pleasure in this Near-Perfect Car for the Connoisseur.”  Bristol turned out just over 600 401s between 1949 and 1953 and - according to figures provided by the Bristol Owner’s Club of Australia - 62 were reportedly exported here as new cars, of which 35 are currently registered to club members.  Bristols make wonderful club cars, perfect for long-distance rallies, weekend runs, or car shows.