During the 1930s, Frazer Nash, who made some of the finest sports car of the time, extended their range by importing BMW's 3 Series cars which were re-badged and sold as Frazer Nash-BMWs. After 1945 they acquired the designs for the BMW range and encouraged the Bristol Aeroplane Company to take up car manufacturing which, to our good fortune, they chose to do! The first product was the Bristol 400 which in essence combined the chassis of the BMW 326 with the looks of the 327 coupe and the superb engine of the 328 sports car. Being made by an aircraft manufacturer the 400 was a very high quality machine and, being hand built by highly skilled craftsmen, it was inevitably expensive however it soon found a strong market niche as well gaining a good reputation in motoring events.
This particular example, which left the factory on 4th November 1948, was sold via London based Bentley dealers Jack Barclay and would have cost its new owner somewhere in the region of £2,500 which reflected it being hand built to very exacting standards.
When its last but one owner bought it the car had been laid up for 15 years and was therefore in need of some tender loving care! After an initial check over it was found to be basically sound so it was thoroughly cleaned then subjected to a considerable amount of work to get it into running order. This involved changing the oil, flushing the radiator and generally lubricating and fettling as necessary including dismantling and cleaning the carburettors, overhauling the braking system, adjusting the tappets and fitting new spark plugs.
Attention was then turned to the body and work done included fitting a new boot and rehanging the boot lid plus corrosion in the rear wings was cut out and remetalled and some welding carried out on the chassis. The wheels were shot-blasted, repainted and fitted with new Michelin X tyres and a new battery with an isolator was fitted as was a flashing indicator system. The front suspension, the spring trunnion bushes and the Enots one shot lubrication system were all overhauled and a new Bristol stainless steel exhaust system was fitted.
Although an MoT test is not a legal requirement for cars of this age, following the above work the Bristol was MoT tested in March 2017 to have it independantly verified as being in sound condition and it has done very few miles since this test.
New carpets have been fitted and the headlining and dashboard were found to be good so left alone. The leather seats are generally sound so have been left as they are but would benefit from some repairs. The door trims are largely intact but well-worn and a new owner may decide whether to renovate or replace them. In addition the front and rear bumpers have been re-chromed and the dynamo has been rebuilt. Some extra Bristol 400 parts come with the car including a pair of doors with windows, a pair of seats, a radiator grille, a heater and a brake servo.
The engine starts very willingly and out on the road sounds crisp, has plenty of power and pulls well. The gearbox is good, the transmission is quiet, the steering is precise, the brakes are good, the instruments all work and the car is a pleasure to drive.
In summary this very rare car is for driving rather than winning concours events and is open to further improvement if you want to do so – it is priced accordingly and it is not often that you will be presented with the opportunity to buy a roadworthy Bristol 400 at such an affordable level.