Developed from the pre-war BMW 326/327/328, the Bristol 400 story started with four pre-production prototypes, two saloons and two drophead convertibles. They were built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) under the supervision of George White and registered by them in 1946. The drophead convertible design never made it into series production and eventually those prototypes were sold into private ownership; BAC initially retained ownership of the saloon prototypes and this week one of them sits here in the Pall Mall clubhouse.
Chassis number 1, registration number JHY 261, was used as a factory hack to begin with. In 1949 it was driven and crashed by ‘Bill’ and Tommy Wisdom on the Coupe des Alpes Rallye. Come the 1960s, the car had been resprayed (badly!) by Anthony Crook Motors Ltd in a contemporary FIAT paint, very similar to the original colour believed to be an ex-RAF desert camouflage paint (- which would of course have been plentiful in an aircraft factory in 1946).
The car passed from that company to the family of Tony Crook in 1992. The current owner, only the third recorded, acquired the car directly from them and displayed it for the first time at the Club’s Midsummer Drive-In in 2014. As of today the car is reputed to have covered over 340,000 miles. And having lost its first 1911cc prototype engine in 1947 it has remained deliberately unrestored and unimproved. That 1911cc engine was made with a 65mm cylinder bore, basically the same as the BMW 328 six-cylinder block but with a 1mm smaller bore diameter. No heater, no indicators, no remote gear change, no overdrive, no disc brakes and no brake servo together make for a very original driving experience.
Chassis No: 400/1/1
Engine No: Originally 10, now 85A/1083
Body style: Close-coupled two door saloon
UK Registration: JHY 261 (1946)
Engine: 1971cc (cubic capacity of production model) in-line 6 cylinder, triple SU carburettors, 85 bhp
Gearbox: 4 plus reverse. Freewheel on 1st and synchromesh on 2nd-4th
Brakes: Drums all round
Steering: Rack & pinion
Max speed: c. 90 mph
Car displayed courtesy of Club member Michael W Barton from Monday 14 to Sunday 20 May 2018.