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Bristol 411 - buy it new

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Fancy a new Bristol and find the Fighter a trifle gauche? Try one of the company's latest 411 Series VI models...

Bristol 411 Series VI

Bristol 411 Series VI

 
We have developed what you might call a Bristol 411 Series VI...
Bristol Cars Limited is one of the last, stalwart British company still producing luxury motor cars. Always reassuringly priced, production started with the 400 series cars in 1947, based on the BMW 327, and for over 60 years Bristol has been quietly getting on with manufacturing hand made cars for a discerning clientele.

Racing driver and individualist, Tony Crook, ran the company until 2002 from the one-and-only showroom in Kensington High Street. He would gauge the cut of the cloth of a potential buyer in the showroom and, if suitable, might deign to let the customer have on of his motor cars. With the replacement of the venerable 2-litre engine by the creamy Chrysler sourced 5-litre V8 in 1961, Bristol motor cars moved more upmarket and into the Grand Tourismo category.

Present Bristol Cars Limited owner, Toby Silverton, has the same mind-set as Crook and he has carried on the company ethos of manufacturing individual cars for the few. The current Blenheim remains true to the fast, comfortable four-seater touring ideal. But Silverton has also added the aerodynamic Fighter sport car to the range which features a V10 engine pumping out 500+bhp.

The word eccentric is usually used to describe Bristol motor cars from the Sixties as the company steadfastly refused to follow the rest of the motor industry in the pursuit of trends or fashion. (Ironic, considering a number of pop stars and designers appreciate their uniqueness). But the motor cars were always engineered to Tony Crook’s high standards even if the body styling of the 412, 603 and later Blenheim’s were not to everyone’s taste.

It is apparent that a Bristol is like Marmite: you either love it or loathe it. Detractors opine that Bristols are plan ugly and weird while supports enjoy the low profile and rapid progress offered by all the V8 models. Having driven a few, those of us at Octane are always impressed at how usable and capable they are in the real world.

Speak to Bristol types and you will find that most agree that the 411 was the best looking, offering an ideal package of styling and performance. The 411 was produced in five series running from 1969 until 1975, with the original 5.2-litre engine expanding to 6.6-litres with the final iteration.

Being aware of the popularity of the 411 Toby Silverton has come up with a plan. Being Bristol Cars, this is a very Bristol plan. Whilst buyers of the Blenheim and Fighter keep the order books healthy, enthusiasts still hanker after the 411 of yore. Today, the production facilities at the Bristol factory are still available to be used on the out of production 411 because the cars were largely hand made and many of the craftsmen who built them originally are more than capable of doing so again. Bingo!

'We have developed what you might call a Bristol 411 Series VI,' says Silverton with enthusiasm. 'We basically rebuild a brand new Bristol 411 at the Bristol works, with all the sort of upgrades you expect in a modern car, whilst retaining the classic 411 virtues. The Series VI comes with a new car warranty and will cost you £128,500 including.'

Imagine, a manufacturer building you a classic car to ‘as new’ condition in its original factory and handing over a new car warrant to go with it. A concept that is hard to conjure. And Bristol wants £128.5K for the pleasure? Hmm. But think about it a bit longer and the idea is not that far-fetched, just a little lateral.

The Aston Martin Works Service can offer you a Heritage Restoration, which is not the same as a new car. Richard Williams is renowned for rebuilding Astons to superlative standards with all sorts of modern upgrades, but they remain R S Williams cars. Henry Pearman will build you an Eagle E-type and Porsche will rebuild classic cars at its factory. 

Ferrari offers the Ferrari Classiche certification which verifies that the car is as it left the factory. Of course Ferrari is happy to extract your money to make sure its criteria is met. There is one exception to the rule; a few years ago Nissan rebuilt as new a few Datsun 240Z sports cars, to original specification. But Toby Silverton will build you a brand new Bristol that looks like a classic. It will be a factory car with a new car warranty. Why, because he is an enthusiast who owns the company so he can do what he pleases!

'We source a good 411 then take it back to the works and completely strip it to the last nut and bolt,' says Silverton. 'Everything is renewed and upgraded including all mechanicals, interior and bodywork. The car is built to the owner’s requirements so no two are the same. We essentially add up to date Blenheim components to the 411.'

The current Blenheim is an evolution of the 411 so most components are bolt on. The reworked 411 receives the latest 5.7 V8 engine with its multi port fuel injection system, electronic ignition and management. This is mated to a modern 4-speed automatic gearbox with electronically controlled clutch lock-up and a very long rear diff ratio which gives 40.17mph per 1000rpm. Brakes are discs all round with four pot calipers at the front and two pot at the rear and the suspension is upgraded with adjustable dampers and a handling pack.

The interior is completely reworked with all the accoutrements you expect in a modern luxury car. This includes air conditioning, cruise control, electric seat adjustment, central locking and ‘clicker’ keys for the door as well as a choice of sound systems ranging from earache to nose bleed. Everything is very tastefully done but as each Series VI is made to order, you could try for pearlesent paintwork and shark skin interior. Just don’t be surprised if Mr Silverton has you thrown out of the shop.

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1 Comment

Quality workmanship ?

You would think that for thr money they could fit the radio level in the dashboard.

By wrexy on 16 March, 2011, 11:09pm

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Bristol 411 Series VI
Driving the new 411

Octane was invited to the refreshingly un-chromed, non-corporate Bristol Cars Limited showroom on Kensington High Street to have a look at the ‘new’ 411 Series VI. The showroom is a throwback to the Fifties with its neon sign, Formica covered floor and distinct lack of coffee machine or children’s play area. Toby Silverton, and long time Bristol man Richard Hackett, greet us and immediately enthuse about the elegant motor car sitting on the floor. It’s all alloy bodywork, with pin sharp shut lines, does look incredibly elegant in very (dare it be mentioned?) fashionable metallic grey paintwork. It wears the more modern Bristol alloy wheels but apart from that it looks like a brand new 1974 model 411.

The fuel injected V8 starts in an instant and emits a deep burble. Not muscle car loud but smooth and expensive. Blip the throttle and the car rocks under the torque load. Slip the four-speed shifter into D - the gearshift lever and gate look modern but plans are afoot to disguise them. The 411 eases off as you sit up high on the comfortable driver’s seat which has been set just so via the electronic adjuster. The view out is panoramic, thanks to slim pillars and large glass area. The steering is beautifully direct and full of feel and progress is sepulchre quiet.

Give the Bristol a bit more throttle and the unobtrusive engine note deepens and the surrounds start to go past rather more quickly. Cleaving through Kensington this 411 exhibits one of the best Bristol traits. It is narrow. Whilst there is room in the car for four large bods, the exterior dimensions are spare, so traffic can be dispatched with confidence. Body protuberances are squared off and visible and with about 400lb ft of torque available in a relatively light motor car, you squirt pass double decker busses faster than you can flash a travel card.  

Out onto a motorway the Bristol remains quiet and totally refined. It feels new car tight and once locked up into top gear the only problem is keeping to the speed limit. The ride is superb, with no trace of solid rear axle thump. The interior is a sublime place to enjoy restful travel. The cross-banded Walnut veneer dashboard and door cappings gleam like real wood, the supple leather creaks and emits a lovely aroma whilst the Wilton carpeting is lush underfoot. The air con hushes out icy air and the attractive instruments look period but are actually new electronic jobs.

This Bristol 411 Series VI deports itself like a new car. It is incredibly impressive and restful to drive quickly. You might balk at the £128,500 price tag but speak to anyone who has recently had a half decent classic car properly restored, and they will confess to figures starting at around £80,000.

No doubt you have day dreamed of owning a classic that has been subjected to a total nut-and-bolt restoration with a few mod cons added for driving enjoyment in the real world. Bristol Cars goes further, It will bespoke you an ‘as new’ 411 with a new car warranty and full factory back up and support. Ship shape and Bristol fashion.

Thanks to Toby Silverton and Bristol Cars Limited. Tel: +44 (0) 207 6035554; www.bristolcars.co.uk

 
 
 
 

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