1-of-80: Chrysler-Powered 1964 Bristol 408

Bristol Cars Ltd. was a manufacturer of limited production, hand-built British luxury cars. One of these cars was the Bristol 408 (which came between and during the 407 and 408 series). The 408 was built from 1963 and 1966 and used Chrysler engines and transmissions for power. This beautiful 1964 edition is one of only 80 made that year and found its way to the U.S. in 1992. The car can be seen in Lecanto, Florida and is available here on eBay for the Buy It Now price of $28,000. Our thanks to Kyle K for the tip!

The company was born out of Bristol Aerospace Company after World War II. Bristol Cars was in business until 2011 when they suspended operations, but a comeback was attempted as recently as 2020. But this was to no avail and they are now in liquidation mode. The 408 is visually distinct due in part to its long wheelbase, 114 inches out of the 193 inches for the entire car. That puts 60 percent of the length of the car between the two sets of wheels. Compared to, say, a Jensen Interceptor, that was similar in length but nine inches shorter between wheels. The cars borrowed their drivetrains from Chrysler, a 318 cubic inch V-8 with a push-button automatic.

Few of these cars likely made it to the United States and this 1964 edition spent its first 28 years on the “other side of the pond.” A right-hand drive car (we don’t know if any were made with left-hand drive), the plush auto features an aluminum body on a steel carriage and the body, chassis and interior were refurbished before making the trip west. The car arrived without a drivetrain, so a rebuilt Chrysler 360 V-8 was dropped in with a corresponding TorqueFlite. The mileage reads just shy of 34,000, but the seller doesn’t know if that is accurate and could only be from 1992.

The seller has undertaken several repairs and improvements while owning the car, which include:

  • Rebuilt brake system. Including master cylinder, calipers, and hoses
  • Updated cooling system with an aluminum radiator
  • New 4-barrel carburetor

The Michelin tires are newer, and the car comes with its own cover, although it’s said to be kept in a climate-controlled garage. The gas gauge is finicky, and the lug wrench is missing, which shouldn’t be a problem unless the Bristol uses odd-sized lug nuts. We assume the seller has a basis for his asking price as there seem to be no other Bristol 408’s currently for sale online to compare this one against.

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Comments

  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    I actually like the floor mats. They look just like the carpet under our dining room table.

    Like 3
    • alphasud Member

      Where else do you find a oriental rug. Under the walnut burl furniture. Car reminds me of a mini Bentley. I think it looks good, sounds good, and probably runs pretty strong. 28K seems like a good deal to me.

      Like 11
  2. Matthew C

    An urban explorer recently explored the abandoned Bristol factory and discovered loads of rare cars and memorabilia –

    https://youtu.be/E-23PF5QmE8

    https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/what-happened-bristol-cars-1m-4486612

  3. WILLIAM BABYAK

    I wonder if this gorgeous car was used in filming the INSPECTOR LINLEY series?

    Like 2
  4. Robert G Thomas

    Guess where the spare tire is on these cars? It resides vertically behind a hinged panel behind the front wheel arch. I remember seeing it years ago.

  5. dave smeaton

    Look like Hillman tail lights.I wonder?

    • Ken Nelson Member

      Dave, I have this exact model, but with more original drivetrain. The taillites are Hillmans. This car may have power steering, which mine does not, and mine really needs it as the front end is quite heavy with the all cast iron V8. BTW, the earliest V8s were the Canadian Chrysler 313 engines, as Canada being part of the UK essentially, the engines came into the UK without duties as I was told. However, they may have gotten a special price on the 313s as immediately thereafter the 318 was substituted.
      However, the 313 is no slouch. Bristol tweaked the 313 to put out 250 hp, making the car good for 122 mph – not too shabby!
      These cars are very smooth and quiet. And one nice feature is, all the chromed window frames are not chromed steel, but BRASS – so will not corrode.

      • Bill-W

        Canada has not been part of the U.K since 1931 – with the passage of the Statutes of Westminster. That law gave Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Newfoundland true independence.

        Politically Canada has not been part of the U.K. since 1867.

        In the case of import and export duties, Canada and the U.S. signed an agreement in 1965 giving firms in the U.S. and Canada the ability to import and export parts from one country to the other duty free.

        Canada and the U.K. had preferential import duties so the duties on parts exported to the U.K. from Canada were less than the duties on parts from the U.S. Thus Chrysler could import Torqueflite transmissions from the U.S. and export them to the U.K.for less than U.S. shipping to the U.K.

        The 313 had a 3.875″ for compared to the 318’s 3.91″ bore. Chrysler of Canada supplied 313, 318 and then 383 engines to Bristol.. Both the 313 and 318 were A block engines. The 383 was B block.

        Like 2
      • toly arutunoff

        my hopup mopar books from decades ago said the engines were called ‘early b blocks.’ the have a sinuous edge on one side of the rocker covers.

      • JohnfromSC

        Ken,
        Look into electric power steering. So many options now and no messing with the engine compartment. Only tradeoff is finding a steering shaft if you want to retain your original, as the shaft must be cut. Everything is hidden so car still looks orihinal. The electrics also let you dial in how much assist you desire via a rheostat that you can mount under your dash, and even change on the fly.

  6. MCH

    Something isn’t right… Way too good to be true. These cars are phenomenally well built, and very very desireable. A car in this condition should be sell for several times the asking price – worth buying an shipping back to UK and you would still multiply your money. This can’t be real.

    Like 3
  7. fogline

    @MCH – in reading the listing the engine and transmission seem to not be original to the car. Do you think that could be impacting the “buy it now” price?

    • MCH

      Sure – non original engine and/or transmission would hurt value, but still, in this condition, this car is exceptionally cheap – in my humble opinion. Actually I should be talking it down, and buying it while I can. Sadly, just brought in another project, which broke the camel’s back (wife’s good disposition). One more and I might need to buy a sleeping bag and curl up on that exotic floor carpeting.

      Like 1
    • toly arutunoff

      I’m sure this is the car I looked at 15 years ago; it was brought into the usa by a retired British armed forces chaplain without an engine to get a low import duty. it drove beautifully. he was in the upper midwest but I can’t remember where

  8. Charles

    A luxury car without air conditioning?

    • Russell

      Air conditioning … in Britain?

      Like 3
  9. WILLIAM BABYAK

    What was it’s British vehicle registry number? In the UK, the registry number stays with the car for its life.

  10. Russell

    Shame it is an automatic … one of the best/horrors of a “right-hand drive car ” is having to shift with your left hand.

    • Dickie F.

      I drive both RHD and LHD cars almost daily, the human mind strangely adjusts very easily.

      Like 2
    • JEFF S.

      Russell – I spent 1984 thru 1986 on Okinawa, Japan, while in the USAF. After about a week of driving on the left side of the road, I liked it better than driving on the right. Never had an auto trans in any of the 3 used cars I owned. It took me about a month to not be driving on the wrong side in parking lots, upon return to the USA. No problem on the street though. I think it would take some getting used to driving this car in the USA. If I had the money I would buy it as I think the price is only going up in future years, It is only 236 miles south from my daughter’s house in GA; where I am staying for the winter. I am afraid if I went and looked at it, I would pull the $10K out of my savings and finance the balance. With a 783 credit score I will not take the chance and make the trip.

  11. brianashe

    Kyle K.? lol. :-)

    Like 2
  12. Cav427

    Wow, a lot of space in that engine bay, wonder if a 426 Max wedge would fit? It would be period correct, more so than a 360. A 340 would be a better option perhaps, but that may not be period correct. Neat car, gets my imagination going!

    Like 1
    • Dave

      Depending on how it was rebuilt the 360 can easily hold its own against the legendary 340. If you really wanted to be period correct your engine choices are a poly 318, a B-361 or 383, or a RB 413 or 426 W, as you say.

      Like 1
  13. toly arutunoff

    original engine is a 313ci canadian Chrysler polyspherical; known as ‘early b block’

    • CJinSD

      I thought the polys were considered early-A.

  14. Karen & Toly Arutunoff

    all I know is that in a big molar hopup kind of notebook there was a brief explanation of the confusion regarding the canadian polysphericals originally being called ‘b block;’ thus they were referred to thereafter as ‘early b blocks.’

  15. Dickie F.

    @JohnfromSC
    Thank you for the electric power steering advice.
    Any recommendations for a suitable manufacturer ?

  16. Bill-W

    I have parts books and service manuals for Chrysler Canada during the years in question. But no mention of the 313 being a B block. .

    The 313 was an A block engine and it was, physically, the same size as the other A block engines. There were no raised blocks, no lowered blocks, no wide blocks – all A block engines were the same size, externally..

    The A block engines included (CID, bore, stroke, use)-
    277 – 3.75″x3.13″ – 1956 Plymouth, 1957 Plymouth (USA) 1956 Dodge (CDN)
    301 – 3.91″x3.13″ – 1957 Plymouth (USA)
    303 – 3.81″x3.31″ – 1956 Dodge CR (CDN), 1956 Chrysler Windsor (CDN), 1956 Plymouth Fury (USA)
    313 – 3.87″x3.31″ – 1957 Dodge CR (CDN), 1958-64 Plymouth & Dodge (CDN)
    318 – 3.91″x3.31″ – 1957 Plymouth Fury (USA), 1958-66 Plymouth (USA), 1960-66 Dodge (USA), 1965-1967 Plymouth & Dodge (CDN).
    326 – 3.95″x3.31″ – 1959 Dodge Coronet

    The 313 was introduced for the 1957 model year and the B block engines came out for 1958.

    The 313 does get confused with the 318 as the only difference is the bore – the 318 is 0.04″ greater that the 313.

    For the B 383 engine – 4.25″x3.38″ bore and stroke

  17. anatoly

    ‘early b block’ was in a moderately thick 8×11′ hop up manual. it covered all sorts of mopar v8 engines. it also mentioned that the term applied to the engines with the curvy outside rim of the rocker covers. obviously SOMEBODY with heavy mopar involvement used the term to differentiate

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