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8 & 10 cyl Bristol cars From Type 407 onwards

End of an era

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Old 03-04-19, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 137
Default End of an era

25 years ago I bought my first Bristol, a 405 drophead that was the ultimate barn find with a patina of bird droppings in a Connecticut tobacco barn. That restoration was finished by Steve Sparkes, reportedly by the same craftsmen at the factory in Filton who built it in 1955.

Today, I sold my last Bristol, a 411-S1 to a collector in NZ who also owns the 409 I sold to someone else. It is unlikely that I will own another Bristol given that I live on an island with two roads and a 50 kph speed limit, making today the end of an era.

When in 1994 we decided to move to New Zealand, cars were 2.5x the price in NZ as in the US, so I started looking around for a RHD car that I could bring in under the migrant concession. Having owned miserably unreliable British cars like the MGB, 66' Mini and the Austin Healey 3000, the only British car I would consider was a Bristol... not easy to find in the USA.

As I searched for my car, I kept finding ones not on the club registry, and after the third or fourth report, Bob Charlton sent me an impressive document appointing me registrar. This of course proved dangerous, as one of the routine questions for the record was "did you recently buy the car, or is it for sale, and if so, what price?" I was also on the NADA valuation board providing values for Bristol cars - a bit challenging considering the record showed 48 in total for all years.

One gentleman said "I bought it 20 years ago, but yes, it's time to sell, and I would take..." which I would dutifully write down. Then on the way home I would think about it, realise it was about 1/3rd market value, so stop at a payphone (this was the 1990's) to make sure I got it right. On affirmation, my next question would be "would you take a cheque?", which in the end resulted in me owning a 405 drophead, 405 RHD saloon, 405 LHD saloon (missing its engine), 409 RHD, 410 LHD and finally a 411-S1 RHD. It's a good thing I was moving to NZ, because at one point there was an example of almost every LHD model for sale... 401, 402DH, 403, 404, the remains of a LHD 405DH, 406, 407, 408, 409, and I already owned the 410 and 405. Except for the 402 and 404, the others were not expensive.

The three RHD cars came to NZ, but two were sold off as Waiheke Island is far more suited for my 1982 280GE G-wagon that is often in 4WD and lower case on our unpaved roads with steep elevations.

The 411, never registered in NZ, was casually on the market for a decade, and the offer I received today was far less than it would have brought at SLJ Hackett, but it was an easy transaction, and I know it will remain in NZ and be properly restored.

I will remain a member of this forum, and contribute from time-to-time, as well as selling some remaining memorabilia like some of the books, but as an active Bristol owner, my time is up.

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Old 03-04-19, 09:41 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK and Nerja, Spain
Posts: 182
Default Au revoir Claude

Your postings have always been useful and have added to my knowledge of Bristol Cars. I have only been privileged to own a 407 for the last 20 years which is at present undergoing a complete bare shell re-spray. I had for a brief time a 412s2 for a while as well.
Thank you and keep up your postings.
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Old 03-04-19, 07:27 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: West Wales.
Posts: 288

Congratulations on selling the 411 and nice that it will stay in New Zealand, you perhaps will be able to give us updates on the new owners restoration if they are not a forum member or may find something else of interest.
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