V8/Aluminum Body: Rare 1966 Bristol 409 Project

We sometimes see cars sell one place, and they are immediately posted somewhere else, asking much more. Not so in this case! This Bristol is up for sale again, this time here on eBay in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Let’s see what’s changed since last we saw it, and let’s thank reader Larry W for bringing it to our attention!

Bristol Cars traces its roots all the way back to 1875, when Bristol Tramways was formed to provide Bristol, England with a public transport system.  Around 1947, the first Bristol car rolled off the line, and to date, Bristol has made a total of only about 3000 production cars in its entire history. Some of them were sold new in America, but the majority of them have only ever seen European roads. Bristol Cars itself has been mostly dormant since the last Fighter rolled off the line in 2011. They did make a new vehicle for the 70th anniversary in 2016, the “Bullet“, of which 70 were to be built, and there’s talk of some sort of hybrid, but that’s a whole other can of beans.  Their current headquarters is a small storefront on the High Street in Kensington section of London, England, and they allegedly will do restorations on customer vehicles.

Specific to the car here: All of the 409s were powered by Chrysler engines and transmissions, under aluminum bodies, over steel frames, and they have lift-up access panels in the lower section of the front fenders, which hold the spare wheel, battery, and some other functional bits. With all that, they also have some then-new safety enhancements akin to Mercedes-Benz of the day, like crumple zones, aerodynamic styling, and four-wheel disc brakes, to name only a few. This particular car is apparently one of only 74 ever made, so that makes a difference.

We can see a car that looks to be in primer, but not much else appears to have changed in the last 8 months or so. We’re told that the current owner began preparations for bodywork, but doesn’t say why they stopped. We’re not given much in the way of new pictures, but they did include the pictures of the interior and body tag, and the newer pictures match up with the condition of the seats in the previous owner’s listing. It’s still a big project, no two ways about that!

The current price is at $10,000 U.S., with no bids, and if I recall correctly, that’s quite a bit less than the last time. I researched and wrote to you about this same car the last time, and my words from that one seem to fit well enough: “…this very rare piece of Automotive history seems quite fixable and probably worth every penny of its asking price.”

That’s my opinion, what’s yours? Let us know in the comments!

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Comments

  1. ANM

    Sadly the phrase “mostly dormant” is a little too bullish; Bristol were liquidated earlier this year.

    It might be quite a bit less than last time, but still probably too much, given its condition.

    3
    • Russell Glantz Russell Glantz Staff

      Thank you for that update, I had no idea.

  2. luke arnott Member

    The Bristol showroom in Kensington High Street was there for ever – assume it still is even though the company has gone.There was a service operation in Chiswick as well.

  3. robin

    Yes. Bristol is being liquidated. However there are several very active clubs working to ensure availability of the company’s inventory so restoration support and parts availability should not be a problem in the future.

    BTW, if you check, the previous owner listed the car at $24k. This price is fair and realistic.

  4. larry

    Yes. Bristol is being liquidated. However, there are several active clubs that are working to ensure the availability of parts through purchase of Bristol’s assets. BTW, the price from the previous owner of the car was $24k so the current price is fair and reasonable.

  5. Jasper

    Wonder if this is the same one I saw in Verona, Kentucky, of all places, sitting in a Chevron station without its engine back in the mid ‘80s. Had to be the same one I saw a young woman driving around in Louisville a few times before that.

  6. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    Looks like there’s enough to work with here.(if you get the shell for <10k)
    Go with a 2 motor Tesla model 3 drivetrain…and you could have a nice looking "brute-in-a-suit" sled.

    1
  7. Larry

    @jasper: it was in a collection in Michigan for some time. Before that it was owned by someone in California who I believe imported it from Europe.
    @Detroit land yacht: my plan was to convert the car to LH drive and build up the 318 poly. The perimeter tube chassis can support quite a bit more HP. In fact, the Bristol factory would swap in a 383 or 440 in the 318 cars for the right price.

    1
  8. Rich

    Re Robin’s comment about the price being fair.
    I restored a Bristol 411 some years back, and after specialist aluminium work due to galvanic corrosion, high quality leather work, specialist paintwork etc. etc. I lost a heap on the car. Mine was in better shape than this one…
    Buyer beware!

    1
  9. A.J

    It is allways very easy to say…yeah parts available frim clubs and so on…the druvetrain is not the issue here…it is the body…aluminium is very expensive to work with and very difficult to get right… also the trim…bumpers…lights…good luck with getting those …probably need to have them made…and then where are you going to find some one who knows what they look like to start with…. this is a project that makes an optimist look like an Extacy addict… the price is not even anywhere near reasonable to make one risk it….10k$ is not exactly gambling money.

    • robin

      Lights are Lucas and available from any British parts supplier pretty much. Bumpers are included with the car but also are available as reproductions.

      And yes, anything connected to the drive train pretty much can be found at any Mopar specialist.

      Next.

  10. Martin Horrocks

    @Rich knows from experience that restoring these is very expensive. On the other hand, price for this car is currently reasonable for what is on offer.

    Even if the car was given away, it would still cost more to restore than its value once restored, but that´s not to say that someone won´t do it.

  11. Claudio

    Ahhh
    Its LS time again …

  12. Larry

    That 318 can be stroked to 500+ HP. Who needs an LS?

    https://www.hotrod.com/articles/vintage-mopar-power-550hp-chrysler-poly-318-v8-on-the-dyno/

    @martin: when does any restoration make financial sense unless you can handle a good portion of the work yourself. And with the new Ford pickups out there, ordinary body shops are learning how to work with aluminum.

    1
  13. Alaa Alfraih

    Hello Robin…Cars are not made from lights and bumpers…anyway if you think it’s a great deal you should go for it…finish it and I will be happy to pay you top dollar for it. Good luck and best wishes.

    1

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