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Barn Find Bristol: 1953 Bristol 403

042816 Barn Finds - 1953 Bristol 403 - 2

What a gorgeous car, and a unique car, not to mention a valuable car! This 1953 Bristol 403 is found on eBay in Bury, United Kingdom with bids up to £9,500 ($13,903) and two days left on the auction. This car has been stored in a barn since 1980! These are absolutely beautiful vehicles when they’re restored. Thanks to Dik S. from the Netherlands for being a Barn Finds fan and for sending this tip in to us!

042816 Barn Finds - 1953 Bristol 403 - 1

The Bristol 403 was only made for three years, from 1953 to 1955, by the Bristol Aeroplane Company. The Bristol 403 was the successor to the Bristol 401 (the 402 was a cabriolet) with a few mechanical improvements, such as larger main bearings and valves in the BMW-derived inline-six engine. They also added finned aluminum brake drums to handle the extra 15 horsepower, which may not sound like much but when you’re dealing with a sub-100 hp engine, that’s a decent boost. This is the last generation Bristol to have the BMW-like split grille.

042816 Barn Finds - 1953 Bristol 403 - 3

That’s a big boot! This car had the same owner from 1963 and the seller mentions that the underside “does look in pretty good shape considering the length of time its been laid up, it rolls and steers fine, we have a huge amount of service history.” This car has aluminum body panels and they look like they’re in great condition but of course it will need a full restoration.

042816 Barn Finds - 1953 Bristol 403 - 4

I know, wow, it looks rough in there! But, we all know that everything is restorable and just think how nice it’ll look once you’re done with it! The broken glass can be fixed, of course, so pay no attention to that; if it’s even remotely possible not to.

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Here’s the real reason that this car has been languishing for the last few decades. Apparently, the head gasket needed to be replaced and the car was put into storage in 1980 and it’s been sitting there ever since. Luckily, the head is still there and it comes with the car. This is a BMW-derived inline-six cylinder with about 100 hp and triple-carburetors. It’s not a lot of power but the car only weighs 1,225 kg (2,700 lbs). These are beautiful engines, as you can imagine, since everything else is so beautiful on these cars. This is a fairly rare car and they sell for £50,000 ($73,000)+ when they’re in perfect condition. I think that a beautiful car like this deserves a full restoration, but would you do that or would you just get it working and drive it as is?


  1. DRV

    Pretty much a Jaguar 140 coupe before there was one…

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    That looks like the ugly step-sister of an XK140 Jaguar.

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  3. Pfk1106

    The tail reminds me of a platypus.

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  4. Jerry

    As has happend to more examples this car is at risk of losing its engine and gearbox to a more valuable Bristol powered car. It might be bought for that reason alone. The car might sit some longer after that or be parted out. Judging by the reactions here that would not be such a bad thing.

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  5. Gizmo

    The car was earlier entered for sale by auction. Either it did not sell or the seller is trying to flip it:
    Interesting to see what it sells for this time round

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  6. Mark S

    From the front of this car is a beautiful design from the back this is a butt ugly design. That back needs to be cut off an reshaped. I say resto mod this ugly duck bill a$$ and make it look like something.

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  7. johnforsman

    I don’t think the wide angle lens enhances the look of the Bristol.

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  8. jesus bortoni

    It’s a good looking design, duck-tail and all.

    Like 0

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