When I was a tiny kid my dad owned a Bristol 405: I randomly did a google search for one this week and this derelict popped up - and now against all sensible logic I wish I could have it
This one is a 406 which is the model after my dad’s, differences are; only 2 doors, a bigger grille, better suspension and few engine tweaks but underneath pretty similar.
Its listed for sale on Saturday 8th October at the “Fine Antique and Interior sale” of an auctioneer which primarily sells cattle in the middle of the Cheshire countryside.
The auction estimate is £2,000 pounds which is nothing considering that Hagerty lists the average value of a good one at $35,600 dollars and the only other ones on this classic car site are running closer to £40,000-£60,000 pounds.
Of course the fact that its sat in a garage for 25 years could have something to do with that: the Bristol owners Club reckons the current selling price for a decent straight-six Bristol is roughly equal to the cost of an engine rebuild and an interior retrim! Find a decent specimen and the rest of the car is effectively free.
There are 3 photos attached to the ad and now you’ve seen them all, Its not encouraging.
To give you an idea of how unobtanium parts and service are for one of these coach-built things, there were only 174 Bristol 406s ever made. By comparison Aston Martin cranked out 1,204 DB4s in around the same time frame. Its predecessors the 404 and 405 only totaled 360 units combined.
I also quite dislike finicky, rusty, shitty, old British cars: I think those tinkerers with an MG who spend their weekends chasing endless gremlins for an occasional flat-capped ride with the top down until the carbs go out of tune again are masochists.
I appreciate smart engineering, not parts you have to fettle yourself, frames that rust if you look at them funny and engines that won’t start above 5% humidity.
So why the hell do i want this one?? Well its probably tied into the factors that made me a gearhead in the first place.
This red 405 in suitably classy surroundings is the spitting image of my dad’s. Decades after he sold it we still had 4 of those hubcaps and some carpet coloured fur-flex (british electrics at their finest) stashed in our basement.
My dad had to sell his Bristol when I was very young (late 80's); apparently one unusually cold night something froze on the engine and it was never the same again. It was his daily driver and when he was spending more of his time trying to make sure it started the next morning than on the family it had to go.
I have very early memories of it sitting in the garage and riding to school in the red leather backseat. My mum always said it reduced all other vehicles to mere transportation.
Assuming the auction ends up around the estimate this silver one is at an admission price I could legitimately afford.
I like to daydream that I’d be able to get it back in running condition without paying more than the thing is worth to a mechanic named Nigel: swap the whole ancient drive-train for a late-model straight 6 (the original engine has 18 pushrods), junkyard disc brakes (not like you can see them), maybe a complete chassis transplant if its rotted, the body is Aluminium and will be fine.
I definitely have way more technical resources than my dad ever had; with an engineering background, CAD design skills plus the internet for information and parts. Heck with 3d scanning and printing I could probably replicate discontinued parts if needed.
Sadly however I’ll never be able to justify it since I am now in the same situation as my dad was when he had to sell his; with a young family and daycare payments that would cover the lease on a new Bentley Continental!
Oh and I also no longer live in the UK, so there’s that too.
Here’s what a nice clean one should look like, if anybody is looking for Christmas present ideas.