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8 & 10 cyl Bristol cars Type 407 onwards - restoration, repair, maintenance etc

Fair Comparisons

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 10-02-10, 11:48 PM
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Default Fair Comparisons

I own a Bristol 408 and I am always amazed how close the performance in speed and braking is to a modern car (not modified ). This being the case, the 411 I assume is the equivalent of a lot of standard modern makes. My every day is a Mercedes 320CDI Estate.

A few people on this forum mention owning Aston's , Bentleys , Jag's ,Ferrari's and all the other top of the range marques. As I have never really had the chance to drive any of the Bristol alternatives I was wondering how they compared through the 60's and 70's and even 80's and if favourable, given the comparative rarity , why do the values not compare or even exceed the other makes.

Most people I meet have never heard of Bristol and the people that have are very surprised that they still exist especially without having breaks for bankruptcy or hobby buyers from Russia ! Is it the fact that being little known is the obstacle to recognised high value ? or are they perceived as bland by some classic car followers. Although the Bristol marque does seem to be more recognised in the last year or two.

Greg
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Old 11-02-10, 12:27 AM
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I think the fact that Bristols are relatively undervalued is that they have always been a well kept secret. You just know that the head of MI5 must have driven a Bristol, and possibly still does.

Classic car values seem to be driven in large part by older wealthier people buying the car they dreamed about when they were younger. Not many teenagers fantasise about owning an understated car that is deliberately kept out of the press to preserve it's anonymity so they didn't grow up with an aching desire to recapture their youth by buying a Bristol as the poster car of their teens. Hence the mid life crisis money is queuing up to buy some pretty (awful) junk elsewhere.

Bristol classic buyers are buying the engineering and build quality, not the image per se, I would have thought. Build quality, low running costs and engineering aside, I like the image as it seems to be the only way to travel around in rapid cosseted luxury without offending anyone.

As an aside, the vast majority of Bristol Owners seem to use Macs, which I think reveals an individual streak where utility and quality are more important than following the masses.

I think the values will rise, it has become more difficult to find cars of late, and people are now investing a lot of money in first rate rebuilds like the series 6 conversions. The supply is so limited that it doesn't take much to tip the supply/demand curve upwards, especially when people realise that you do actually recoup the cost of your restoration if it is done well.

Maybe we should all continue to keep shtum.
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Old 11-02-10, 12:54 AM
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Hi Kevin

Would it be helpful if we broke Paul's post down to its component parts for easy refutation?

1. relatively undervalued is that they have always been a well kept secret.
2. You just know that the head of MI5 must have driven a Bristol
2.a. and possibly still does.
3. Classic car values seem to be driven in large part by older wealthier people
3.a. buying the car they dreamed about when they were younger.
3.b. Hence the mid life crisis money is queuing up to buy some pretty (awful) junk elsewhere.
4. Not many teenagers fantasise about owning an understated car that is deliberately kept out of the press to preserve it's anonymity
4.a. so they didn't grow up with an aching desire to recapture their youth by buying a Bristol as the poster car of their teens.
5. Bristol classic buyers are buying the engineering and build quality
6. not the image per se
6.a. I would have thought.
7. Build quality, low running costs and engineering aside
8. I like the image as it seems to be the only way to travel around in rapid cosseted luxury
8.a without offending anyone.
9. As an aside,
10. the vast majority of Bristol Owners seem to use Macs
10.a which I think reveals an individual streak
10.b where utility and quality are more important than following the masses.
11. I think the values will rise
12. it has become more difficult to find cars of late
13. people are now investing a lot of money in first rate rebuilds like the series 6 conversions.
14. The supply is so limited
14.a. that it doesn't take much
14.b to tip the supply/demand curve upwards
14.c. especially when people realise
14.d. that you do actually recoup the cost of your restoration if it is done well.
15. Maybe we should all continue to keep shtum.

Regards

Peter
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Old 11-02-10, 12:55 AM
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Default I agree with Lansdownplace -again

I don't believe it - we agree again. I bet a few people do the "I don't believe it"

I am really interested to know if say a 411 S3 compared to the Astons of the day stands up. I was surprised when I had a drive of an early E Type ( my first car love ) how shyte it was to drive. I do believe my 408 is better and maybe quicker. Also early on I realised I would always want a car big enough for my dog, mates, stuff , and wife.
- Note the order. and I have just bought her a new ironing board cover for valentines day :-)

Greg
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Old 11-02-10, 01:02 AM
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Please refute away as they were genuine questions - seems a lot to go at but the first one is easy as I am head of MI5 -- oops

Greg
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Old 11-02-10, 01:16 AM
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Or is Kevin's permission needed for refutation to begin -- tee hee
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 11-02-10, 05:56 AM
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Perhaps another reason, if I dare mention it, is the fact that the 8 cyl Bristol cars are coach built in England, and have a mass produced engine from the USA under the bonnet. Nothing wrong with that intrinsically, but it can be argued that this makes it less of a thoroughbred than say the Aston equivalent, and perhaps less sought after for that reason. How's that for controversy? The same may be said for Jensens, Facels etc. I have to declare myself as a a 6 cyl owner, but did previously own a 411 S2. I am also an Aston owner, which I find to be more engaging as a drivers car than an 8 cyl Bristol, but I do like the fact that the Bristol is more understated.

Paul
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Old 11-02-10, 08:37 AM
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Hi Paul, undoubtedly the lack of an in house engine is an impediment for many car enthusiasts, However you would have expected a bigger following for the 6 cyl engines on that basis, especially as it was so good. If you look at the value of other marques using the Bristol engine they are currently more expensive by some margin.

In part this could be because of their racing association, which again leads back to me poster boy theory of demand. It all comes back to publicity and image in the end.

Paul
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Old 11-02-10, 08:39 AM
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That is probably it. Bristols and Jensons were better cars than a lot of the competition but not classed as thoroughbred. None of the others had 4wd like Jenson though. I think the V8's were probably closer to being a real thoroughbred than the BMW replicas ?

Greg
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Old 11-02-10, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GREG View Post
I am really interested to know if say a 411 S3 compared to the Astons of the day stands up.
V8 Bristols and Astons are completely different beasts in my opinion.

I've owned several Astons and I would have to class them all as "sports" or "grand tourers". The cars I had were all very good to drive, considering their age (I don't expect a 1959 DB MkIII to drive like a 1982 V8 Volante).

The Bristol 411 doesn't feel like a sports car, or even a GT, but nor was it supposed to I assume. It's really a saloon, with a large coupe body.

Quote:
I was surprised when I had a drive of an early E Type ( my first car love ) how shyte it was to drive. I do believe my 408 is better and maybe quicker.
How was it shyte?
Comfort/ride, and/or handling?
Was the E-Type a well maintained example?
Are you comparing cars that are on a par in terms of mechanical condition?

My DB6 was a death trap when I first drove it and I am sure you can find a few Bristols that don't drive very well either!

As for the values, I'd have to agree with Paul D - the fact that Astons have their own engines, compared with mass produced US donks, would be a factor.

It's possible that Bristol's anonymity works against it in terms of classic car market values. Unlike Astons and Ferrari, Bristol V8's don't have much of an identity. Astons, Ferraris and the like have been well marketed over decades, by both the makers and especially their dealers, which of course Bristol had none of once Tony Crook became involved.

A much bigger factor however, is the car type. Name another large saloon contemporary with the 411 that commands significantly better prices?

Then there's the styling. I had a light metallic blue 1970 Aston DB6 Mk2 which was a gorgeous looking thing, admired by most people who saw it, women included, even if they didn't know what it was. Plenty of people recognised it as the James Bond car, even though it wasn't!

Bristol 411s however are definitely an acquired taste, and earlier V8 Bristols even more so.

Personally however, I always felt a bit too conspicuous driving an old Aston. The fact that very few people know what the Bristol is actually appeals to me.
  #11 (permalink)  
Old 11-02-10, 09:02 AM
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Default Fair Comparisons

Would it be helpful if we broke Paul's post down
to its component parts for easy refutation?

Let me take a pot shot at a favourite peeve...

10. the vast majority of Bristol Owners seem to use Macs
10.a which I think reveals an individual streak
10.b where utility and quality are more important
than following the masses.

Umh, using a Mac is following the masses. It's paying a
very high price for somebody else figuring out what your
user experience should be, and locking you into it. But
at least Apple manages to wrap it in a solid layer of
trendiness, so that real Macinistas will buy anything
that is translucent white and has a name beginning with
"i".

Real individualists use Linux

For a good analogy with cars, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_The_...e_Command_Line

Julf
  #12 (permalink)  
Old 11-02-10, 09:50 AM
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I agree

The E Type I had a drive in was probably a bit tired. Most of all, it had been a dream car for so long that I think my expectations were unreasonably high. I still think that most people would be surprised by how unrefined they are that haven't driven one whereas the expectations for an early V8 Bristol is probably much lower resulting in a pleasant surprise.

It is hard to think of any big saloon that commands much higher prices - Maybe a Citroen, but I would have thought that Bristols are more scarce than the others and that would push the price up.

It's funny how taste differs. When I was looking to buy a Bristol I knew the 411 was more refined to live with but thought they were pug ugly compared to the 408 especially after S2 when they started to head towards 412 looks - boxy.

The look has grown on me since but if I was going to have a car with the 411 S6 treatment it would be in the 408 body.

Good job we are all different.

Greg
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Old 11-02-10, 09:50 AM
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Hi Julf, Linux users probably build their own kit cars and spend
every waking hour 'adapting' them to get them to do anything.

I like being able to turn a key an go myself

P
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Old 11-02-10, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lansdownplace View Post
Bristol classic buyers are buying the engineering and build quality
I don't know enough about the 6 cyl Bristols to comment, but the build quality of the 411s wasn't anything special. I would be interested to know why the engineering of the V8 cars could be considered better than many contemporary rivals.

Quote:
As an aside, the vast majority of Bristol Owners seem to use Macs,
Ha ha, I must have missed the survey!

Quote:
I think the values will rise, it has become more difficult to find cars of late, and people are now investing a lot of money in first rate rebuilds like the series 6 conversions. The supply is so limited that it doesn't take much to tip the supply/demand curve upwards, especially when people realise that you do actually recoup the cost of your restoration if it is done well.
I haven't seen a 411 "Series 6" on the secondhand market yet, but I would be very surprised if one could be resold for what it cost to upgrade (£128K?) As for restoring other standard Bristols, they're just like any other classic car restoration - it would be very rare to recoup what was spent (if it was done well).

I hope values will rise now that Bristol is more open and transparent, Toby is clearly making efforts to get more press exposure and the Fighter T has attracted more attention than any Bristol in the last 40 years.
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Old 11-02-10, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GREG View Post
It is hard to think of any big saloon that commands much higher prices - Maybe a Citroen, but I would have thought that Bristols are more scarce than the others and that would push the price up.
The "big saloon" part is the problem. They're just not sexy.

Wealthy guys having the mid life crisis (and premier league soccer players) are out to get a "toy" and it generally needs to also be a status symbol. A big saloon with a Chrysler V8 just doesn't cut it, they don't cost enough
  #16 (permalink)  
Old 11-02-10, 10:30 AM
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Julf:

Not sure who established that Bristol owners are Apple/Mac persons. I
am one from the beginning but later while chair of a small computer
company that embraced IBM/Microsoft technology. Well, I spent so much
time and money trying to find out what to do with Microsoft/IBM, I
resigned from the company and the machine. Now, that's some time ago,
but I approach all Microsoft products with caution. I know they are
now inescapable, but prefer them on an Apple platform..

Sean

Over time: 401; 406; 405; 406Z
  #17 (permalink)  
Old 11-02-10, 10:33 AM
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If the Beacham Jag's are anything to go by, the 411 S6 should hold a lot of the value. In fact I bet Beacham would do a good job of that type of restoration on a Bristol and seem to have a good name along with the Eagle E type. As Kevin said , a Bristol is the same as most quality cars under the skin.

It would be interesting to find out what Eagle or Beacham would charge to create their version of a series six. Of course it wouldn't have the same kudos as being built by the original manufacturer and the warranty that goes with it. Nevertheless it would probably be as good ?
  #18 (permalink)  
Old 11-02-10, 11:45 AM
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Hi Paul, this is a very interesting point, and I think you are right about the racing association. The majority of other makes using Bristol engines were designed for racing or at least as sports cars for the road (AC, FN, Arnolt, Cooper etc). None of the original Bristol cars could be described as true sports cars. Two seater open sports cars will always be more sought after than closed 4 seaters for non-everyday ownership. Also Bristol styling has never catered for mainstream tastes - to most they are simply considered to be awkward looking, whether of the 6 cyl or 8 cyl variety. To a minority, that is big part of their charm, combined with the pedigree of engineering excellence.

Paul
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Old 11-02-10, 11:56 AM
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Hi Kevin, I think you need to look at the top notch 411 restorations and S6s to appreciate why the press at the time thought that Bristol had a seat at the very top of the build quality tree. Interestingly the cars from the 412 onwards are the most 'in house' of the V8s looking at Christopher Balfour's book as prior to that the coachwork and painting were outsourced from the early 60s.

The Jag E type is much aspired to, but all the owners I have met say it is a great way to enjoy the countryside, standing in it beside your e-type waiting for the AA. The Italian exotics are notorious for being temperamental. Bristols keep going.
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Old 11-02-10, 12:35 PM
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I wonder why people treat the quality of Bristols so high. They rust like any other car, they have technical problems like any other car. If I look at my Mercedes 220 SE from 1960 I see no difference in the quality compared to a Bristol. I guess the value will rise if Bristol is willing to open themselves a little bit more to the public like other companies producing such expensive cars like Königsegg or Wiesmann.The funny thing in Germany - I raise far more notice with my frog or my Rover P4 than with my Bristol 408 because nobody knows the company and has no idea about the car. A DB5 is well known from Bond - so people know what to expect. Hans
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