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Chrysler Power: 1975 Bristol 412

1975 Bristol 412

When you hear words like Zagato or Bristol, you probably envision exotic machines wearing seductive curves. So, it will probably surprise you to know that the brick you see in front of you is wearing badges from both of these prestigious brands. The power that Bristol was known for is there, but the design may not have been Zagato’s best work. It is unique though and I bet our American readers have never seen one. A few were imported, but this one is located in the UK. That might be the best place to look though if you are in the market for an Italian-styled, American-powered, British-built car! This one has been in storage for a while and the seller has sneaky suspicions that it could be an early prototype. They make lots of assumptions in their ALL CAPS description though, so you will want to do your own research. Find it here on eBay out of Bramley, United Kingdom. Thanks goes to RickyM for the tip!

Chrysler 400

Like the Bristol before it, the 412 was powered by a Chrysler V8. After reading through a brochure I found online, it looks like this may have been the high performance version of Chrysler’s 400 cubic inch B-series engine. The 4-barrel carb and dual exhaust are the only visible clues, but that means that this beast could put out around 260 horsepower and 410 foot pounds of torque! Not bad for a car produced in the middle of the oil-crisis. The resulting performance was impressive too with the ability to reach 100 miles per hour in 19 seconds and a top speed of 140 possible.

Targa top

Unfortunately, the world was also going through a fashion-crisis when this car was built. The squared off hood and flush mounted headlights make it hard to tell if this one is coming or going. The roof featured an awkward looking targa top and fold-down rear section too. One benefit of that design though was some degree of rollover protection. The inner structure was made of steel to keep things stiff and the outer panels were constructed of an alloy to cut down on weight. So, although it may look odd on the outside, this was a actually a cutting edge machine in 1975.

Bristol interior

Luckily, the exterior styling did not flow over into the interior. Bristol kept things very British inside by fitting leather-upholstered seats and a walnut dashboard. This thing was meant for high speed cruising so a Torque-flite 3-speed took care of shifting duties while a Speedhold cruise control system maintained speeds. My initial reaction to this car was disdain, but after learning more about it, I quickly realized that it’s much more than an uglier version of the Lancia Zagato. Although it may share the quirky roof concept, this Bristol is something special. Now, if I could just figure out how to get it shipped over here…


  1. Don

    I was amused by the phrase “striking design” it certainly was!

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  2. Mark E

    Oh my. I saw this article and got ALL EXCITED because I thought the car was IN AMERICA… Oh well. As for Bristol, when I hear the name I think of the Bolide…now there’s a car! (droool…)

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  3. Dan Farrell

    I drove Plymouth police cars in the 70’s and someone thought getting some with 400 c.i. and 2 barrel carbs was a great gas saving idea. They would go like a bat out of hell up to 35 mph and then it was like the engine was strangled for gas and air after that.

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  4. Dolphin Member

    I like most Zagato designs, but definitely not this box. Bristol’s earlier efforts are far better, and it’s hard to understand how they could have bought this one from the great Italian design house.

    But even if I liked it I couldn’t face dealing with this seller. The massive, ALL-CAPS, run-on sentence that is the description is bad enough, but the attitude that comes through could be a problem.

    Fortunately that’s not going to be a problem since the listing has ended with the reserve not met and the ‘item NLA’.

    Phew….. Next

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  5. Barry Thomas

    I could never figure out Bristol. The were extremely expensive new and most look like the designers were fired years ago. I believe Prince Charles had or has one.
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

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