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Geoff Kingston 20-07-19 11:42 PM

Design and the Bristol Car.
My copy of the new book by John Hobbs the son of Dudley Hobbs the designer of virtually all the cars we hold dear to our hearts arrived yesterday.
Everything stopped, the book is utterly absorbing not just in respect of what John writes in respect of his fathers work at Bristol but also the reproduction of a number of fascinating and historical documents from the early years of Bristol Cars.
There is only one thing that jars and that is the inclusion of an analysis of Dudley Hobbs work by a young designer I have never heard of which is so far off the mark in terms of the 603 that it absolutely obvious he is too young to understand what he is looking at. He is obviously not sufficiently well grounded in post war automobile design, especially in England and as regards Bristol cars to recognise that the 603 was the most significant and important of the V8 engined cars the company ever produced.
That I read the book over the space of 24 hours speaks volumes of how interesting and absorbing it it is, i know also it is going to be a reference source in years to come.
We have been very fortunate in the last few years that some great books have been published about Bristol cars but this is one of the best, without Dudley Hobbs the cars we love and enjoy would have been very very different.

Barrie 21-07-19 03:43 PM

Thank you for bringing the John Hobbs book to my attention. As a matter of interest how did you get to hear of it? Since the motoring bookshop off St Martin's Lane in London closed down I've not been able to find a decent motoring bookshop.
Also pleased to see your enthusiasm for the book which is similar to mine for Christopher Balfour's 'Bristol Cars, A very British Story' which was similarly devoured and enjoyed by me over a couple of days.
Although a long-term Bristol fan I'm not sure what you mean by 'He is obviously not sufficiently well grounded in post war automobile design, especially in England and as regards Bristol cars to recognise that the 603 was the most significant and important of the V8 engined cars the company ever produced.'
What was it that Dudley Hobbs did?

Geoff Kingston 23-07-19 04:51 PM

Hi Barrie
I had bought the previous Bristol book published by Butterfield press and at the last Heritage Trust lecture in Bristol the Author gave a talk on design, his father and Bristol Cars.
You will be able to order the book direct from Butterfield at- But if doing it through a bookshop if they can get it for you the ISBN number is 978-1-9996325-2-6.
I ordered direct off the website. It was posted well packed and tracked.
Dudley Hobbs was the companies Chief Designer having started his career in the Aircraft side of the business he transferred to the newly formed car division had a hand in all the early cars, a major roll in refining the design of the 401 and eventually took over the responsibility for the design of all Bristol cars upto and including the 603, the exceptions being the 450 and 412's.
All this of course in the days before CAD so every element of the body design and construction was drawn by hand, some of these being reproduced in the book.
The young designer I feel had not really taken in properly what he was looking at at the earlier cars especially the later series of 411's, if he had I am sure he would not have said the 603 did not look like a Bristol.
Think of the competitors in the late 50's early 60's cars like the Alvis TD series, the Bentley Continetals which had evolved along similar lines to the Bristol 406 through to the 411, they really could not have been anything other than British and that was just as true of the 603 which at the time was acknowledged as a very good design, perfect no but what car is?
Of course I am totally biased as I own a 603 to keep my 411 and 401 company.

Barrie 26-07-19 11:17 PM

Belated thanks for your response and info Geoff

Kevin H 04-08-19 12:51 PM

Hello Geoff,
How much of thsi book is about the design of Bristol cars, as opposed to a book about automotive design in general?

Is it a must have "Bristol book"?


Geoff Kingston 05-08-19 05:47 PM

Hello Kevin,
It is a must have book in my view, there is only one chapter that really focuses on the design principles used by Dudley Hobbs and that incorporates some wonderful design drawings of the 603 and details from the 411.
I must admit I was not sure myself what to expect all I can really say is that John has done the subject and his father proud.
Following the main section of text there is some fascinating reports and documents from the late 40's and 1950's which give an insight into the company that few of us will have seen before.

Chapter headings are-

1. Preliminaries (and a girl called Monica)
2. Blenheims, Beauforts, Beaufighters ( and a trip to Germany )
3. The 400
4. Aerodynes
5. That intake, Racing and Survival Techniques
6. Transverses, Buttocks and Waterlines
7. A New Line ( and a change of direction )
8. The Type 600

This takes up the first 100 pages of the book , the next 100 being devoted to fascinating historical information, a young designers view on the design of Bristol Cars, and a rather interesting observation by the publisher on the true nature of the 400.
All the cars up to the 600 are included and perhaps there is more to savour in the book for owners of the early cars and the 600, this as the book says is not a detailed history of the company and its products, its about the evolution of the cars and the important part that Dudley Hobbs played in that process.
Very much for me a book that completes the Bristol storey although I know that Michael Barton has at least one more Ace up his sleeve.


Kevin H 06-08-19 05:43 AM

Thanks for the detailed info Geoff!


LukeHansen 07-10-19 10:24 AM

Dudley Hobbs Book - Review in c&Sc.
There’s a great review about the book in the November 2019 issue if Classic and Sportscar magazine. Worth a read. As is the book - a must for any Bristol owner (or someone with a general interest in Bristol Cars).

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