Displacement: 1,971 cc
Horsepower: 105 bhp @ 5,000 rpm
Engine Torque: 112 lb ft @ 3,750 rpm
Top Speed: 110 mph
0 - 60 mph: 11.1 seconds
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The Bristol Cars Company was born of the Bristol Aeroplane Company following the conclusion of World War II. Finding themselves at rather a loss for something to do, after the demand for their magnificent fighters & bombers had waned rather dramatically, they decided to enter into automobile manufacture. One of the board members managed to secure a deal to obtain the plans & several engines from BMW as reparations for the German war debt. Consequently the first three offerings from the new company bore a remarkable resemblance, both outwardly and mechanically to the pre-war BMW models. They were aimed towards a very discerning clientele and were always intended to be extremely exclusive. They had but one dealership, which still exists to this day, in Kensington, London.
The 404 marked quite a departure from its predecessors. The body had a far more modern appearance and, by virtue of its aeroplane roots, was one of the first cars developed in a wind tunnel. A further nod to its avionic heritage was the new radiator air intake, which had heavy tinges of aero-engine styling. Another new feature that was to become a trademark of all later Bristols, was the inclusion of storage space for the battery and spare wheel in hinged compartments, behind the front wheels, in the wings. Mechanically they were similar to the earlier cars but rode on a much shorter wheelbase (only 96 inches, as opposed to 108 inches). There were only 52 built, of which, only three were left hand drive.
This particular car was the Geneva & New York show car in 1955. It was sold new, appropriately enough, to a wealthy American aircraft executive, as a wedding anniversary present for his wife. She had become enamored of the marque after seeing the Bristol entries finishing 1st, 2nd & 3rd in class (7th, 8th & 9th overall) at Le Mans earlier in 1955. She drove the car until her death in 1970, having covered just 17,000 miles. Subsequently, it has had three owners, who have collectively added another 12,000 miles.
Now, sixty-six years after its birth, it still bears its original British Racing Green paint & white leather interior with green piping and shows a mere 29,266 miles. Naturally, there is considerable patina throughout, but this serves only to reinforce & enhance the charm and character. The paint is crazed & lacquer-checked and even worn through in some spots but the alloy body is extremely straight and the undercarriage is exemplary, with zero corrosion or scars. The seat leather is cracked & creased but still remarkably supple and the carpets are threadbare but all present. The door panels, dashboard & gauges are excellent and the bat-wing steering wheel is sublime. Mechanically, it is truly lovely and clearly demonstrates its very low original mileage. It idles sweetly with the exhaust note rising to an amazing crescendo with a little application of the throttle. The gearbox is a delight to operate and the ride & handling are equally superb.
Eligible for numerous classic events, this represents an unprecedented opportunity to acquire one of the most exclusive, hand-built cars ever built and undoubtedly one of the most original Bristols in existence.