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Tony Crook in Octane Magazine

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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 29-03-11, 12:27 AM
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Re: Sour grapes - Tony Crook was fortunate in that the gentlemen who sold him the business were gentlemen, and didn't publicly second-guess his efforts and his management style. I suspect there was at least some slight degree of chagrin as his style became apparent.

It doesn't appear that he learned from them.

If Crook had not sold the business to Toby Silverton, et al, does anyone doubt it would have gone under before now?

From what I've learned in three years, I'm convinced it would have.

Crook got out well, in every sense of the word.

Tant pis.
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 29-03-11, 10:42 PM
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I cannot understand the negative stance some people here take towards the Fighter, which is a fascinating and unique car, not comparable to anything else.
And Bristol would have needed a new model in the long run anyway, they cannot carry on forever just with the 603 derivatives.

Regards,
Markus
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 29-03-11, 11:41 PM
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As much as I respect the engineers in the Bristol company, there is no way they could have designed a super car approaching the prestanda of the Bugatti.
It cost more money to develop that car than I imagine Bristol Cars total revenue since the beginning (Inflation adjusted) of the company.
The sum of UKP 30 million for developing the Fighter has been mentioned. That sum alone would hardly pay for the development and tooling for the front suspention of the Bugatti.

I have firsthand witnessed an owner of a Fighter discussing with the staff the possible location of a serious fuel leak in the vicinity of the fuel tank, on his brand new car.
An true enthusiast may accept such a potentially lethal fault, but if that happened to somebody else? Media disaster.

Have we heard of anybody achieving the topspeed in the Fighter, and keeping it for a few minutes??
I have not.

I believe that they should have developed a totally new car exterior wise, using a better engine and gearbox, maybe using one of the superb V8 from BMW or MB, with associated gearbox and diff.
The 603 derivation (Blenheim 3 you mean?) had an excellent suspention, chassis and interior.

Last edited by Janne; 29-03-11 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 30-03-11, 06:49 AM
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Where do you intend to hold the Fighter's top speed for a few minutes? This would not even be possible on a German Autobahn, let alone on a British motorway. Only on a race track.
Noone can realistically expect Bristol to compete with Bugatti, as Bugatti - just like Bentley and Lamborghini - is actually Volkswagen, a multi-billion group of companies. And the Bugatti is also much more expensive, by the way.
Or does anybody expect Morgan to compete with Porsche or something like that? These cars from small companies are bought for their own sake and mostly by people who possess several cars anyway and do not need to compare them on a rational level.
By the way, several Ferrari 458 Italias have already burst into flames, and Ferrari certainly has more money than Bristol to spend for development purposes. They are backed by Fiat, of course.

Noone could expect the Fighter to recoup its development cost within a few years. And Bristol Cars must have known that. So why did they spend that much money in the first place? My guess is they had the support from Joe Lewis to do so and now Lewis has simply withdrawn his money as Toby Silverton is no longer married to his daughter.
By the way, someone who talked to the administrators last week told me that there are several bidders seriously interested in acquiring the company and that the administrators are quite optimistic the company will continue one way or the other under a new management. As this is just second hand information, I cannot verify it, of course.

Regards,
Markus

Last edited by Markus Berzborn; 30-03-11 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 30-03-11, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markus Berzborn View Post
I cannot understand the negative stance some people here take towards the Fighter...
I suspect some people feel if BCL had not embarked on development of the Fighter, the company might still be financially solvent.

If you do the maths one has to wonder what they were thinking. If the development costs were 30m, and say the profit was 100k per Fighter, they would have to sell 300 Fighters just to recoup the development costs!

The project was only really economically feasible if Joe Lewis was prepared to treat BCL as a hobby (or his son-in-law's hobby) and stump up the development costs. Who knows, maybe that was the original scenario.

BCL had survived for decades by evolving the same chassis and they could have possibly continued to do so by incorporating more modern technology on the same platform. I also think they were onto a winner with the 411 S6. Then there's the significant existing market for parts and services pertaining to the 6 cylinder cars.

Edit/PS: I am not for a minute suggesting the profit per Fighter was 100k!

Last edited by Kevin H; 30-03-11 at 08:30 AM.
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Old 30-03-11, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin H View Post
say the profit was 100k per Fighter
I would expect it to be less but who knows.

Basically, it should be no problem to sell 300 Fighters worldwide if you look at other specialist car makers. Not with the old Bristol marketing concept, of course.

Regards,
Markus
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 30-03-11, 08:41 AM
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OK, first the Fighter. Yes it is unique and with a price tag at a maximum of half that it actually sported then it might have sold in reasonable numbers. The reality however is that there are plenty of competent, well proven alternatives in every price bracket. So to sum up, the Fighter is a decent solution to a problem (market niche) that doesn't exist. Bristol could never hope to compete effectively with the giant automotive conglomerates that now, for better or worse, dominate the global car industry.
This is not a criticism of the car, the company or it's management, it's just reality. Bugatti sell the Veyron at a well documented loss, Bristol could not afford to do such a thing I imagine.

Secondly the 603/411 cars. The same problems apply here, ever increasing costs of production versus the sustainable level of demand for the cars. I personally feel that the situation had reached the point where the revenue derived from these cars was not worth the effort (and costs) involved in producing or indeed re-producing them.

The spares operation will have been seeing a steady reduction in sales volumes for many years as the overall numbers of miles travelled in Bristols declined as the older cars were put out to grass as recreational vehicles. The volume of new cars being sold was a drop in the ocean even compared to the marque's heydays so spares and service on these cars couldn't take up the slack here.

So, to sum up, Bristol had it coming from all sides really and no amount of smoke, mirrors and hard graft was ever going to do anything other than prolong their decline, which is what, I believe, actually happened.
As a one time principal of a medium sized manufacturing concern I'd frankly be terrified to attempt to turn this one around, the level of investment capital required would be huge, the margin for error non existant, demand for the product unproven.
Maybe a large car company would be interested in Bristol as garnish for their car range a la Bugatti, but even the most stalwart Bristol fanatic would have to admit that the brand itself is looking a little threadbare these days.

We sit and wait for an announcement...
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 30-03-11, 08:51 AM
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I doubt whether the price of the Fighter really matters. Who is able to spend 200,000 can also spend 300,000 or 400,000. This is really no price class for people who have to check their account first. Look at the Aston Martin One 77, its price tag is just ridiculous, 1.2 million Euros or something like that. But it sells nevertheless.
I think the new Bristol management will have to conduct a thorough market and cost analysis first and have a look at other small specialist car makers and try to understand how they operate. Wiesmann, Pagani, Koenigsegg and so many others - they all survive somehow in spite of small production figures. And there are even entirely new startup manufacturers like Marussia from Russia who have even ventured into Formula 1 for the current season.

As to me, what has been a problem in the long run is the concentration of Bristol Cars on the dwindling British market. It is in countries like Russia and China nowadays that large amounts of money are not only made but also readily spent. But over there hardly anyone knows that Bristol even exists.

Basically, the situation of Bristol Cars is comparable to Aston Martin before being taken over by Ford. But Aston Martin had a much more developed brand awareness. If you said "Aston Martin" everybody could associate something with this name. This is not the case with Bristol.
By the way, Aston Martin are now no longer part of a large conglomerate after Ford sold the company and - they even operate profitably. What they hadn't done for decades. In former times the company was really more like a hobby for people like David Brown or Victor Gauntlett.

Regards,
Markus

Last edited by Markus Berzborn; 30-03-11 at 10:12 AM.
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 30-03-11, 10:22 AM
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I believe the price of the Fighter does matter Markus. There aren't enough cash addled billionaires out there to keep many car companies running in a sustainable manner for long, this market is ultimately novelty driven and requires regular (and expensive) model updates/reworkings to pander to a jaded palette. Aston will be OK for a while on the back of the massive investment by Ford, Bristol were in much the same position in the years immediately after the exit of BAC and look how long they limped on for. Whether the current Aston shareholders are in it for the long haul remains to be seen.
More relevent is the fact that the Bristol marque doesn't have the kind of glamourous, jet set image beloved by new money types, quite the opposite in fact. As a rich persons plaything, any company, even Manchester City FC, can survive provided the owners cash cows keep supplying. I strongly suspect that is the business model for many small volume hypercar producers. Aston have a modern, modular range of bread and butter volume produced cars which sell at prices affordable by the large numbers of the global moderately wealthy. I imagine their top of the range hypercars are produced partly to maintain the company's glamour rating and thus their brand value which is then exploited elsewhere within the company.
Now the situation at Bristol can be changed, but it will take time and a prodigious cash burn to do so with little guarantee of success. I personally believe Mr Silverton didn't do a lot wrong really, he attempted to steer a progressive course within the limitations of his finances, making use of the skill set available within the company. Even so he failed, and he had a solid background in specialist car production. That is a sobering fact indeed.

Anyway, despite it seems ruling myself out for the post as new Bristol Cars MD, I really do wish them the very best of luck in their future plans. All we can do is speculate as to what that future may hold, delivering a future is thankfully, someone else's bag.
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  #30 (permalink)  
Old 30-03-11, 12:27 PM
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Lets look at the luxury car market these days. Marques such as Bentley and Rolls Royce have succumbed to the money no object attitude. Wayne the professional footballer gets to buy a white Range Rover with gold spinners; Mr Oleg from Moscow gets to buy a bomb proof Rolls Royce with diamond encrusted radiator and snakeskin roof covering; Barbie the reality TV star buys a pink Bentley with corresponding fur lined interior; Mr Chan from Beijing buys his Rolls Royce with satin black paint and gold leaf lined door cappings. The new age wealth who run this world want bling for their cash, not 'dignified travel for four adults and their luggage'. TC would have kicked these people out of the showroom rightly or wrongly - Silverton may have been open to suggestions, but by this time the cars were too wrapped up in their own anonimity, and, in the case of the Blenheim, awkwardness, to ever regain profitability. This may have worked well in the 50's and 60's when Mr 'Old Money', finding the Rolls Royce rubbed it in a bit during these austere times, and the Cadillac Fleetwood much too vulgar and 'nouveau', would have gladly gone for the elegant simplicity and aeronautical inspired Bristol. Unfortunately not now where bad taste reigns supreme.
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Old 30-03-11, 01:30 PM
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Certainly there are such flamboyant customers but the VW Phaeton-derived entry level Bentleys for instance are more or less normal cars mostly driven by wealthier than average but not exceptionally eccentric people.

Regards,
Markus
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old 30-03-11, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markus Berzborn View Post
Certainly there are such flamboyant customers but the VW Phaeton-derived entry level Bentleys for instance are more or less normal cars mostly driven by wealthier than average but not exceptionally eccentric people.

Regards,
Markus
I was in the back of a Bentley Flying Spur recently and to my eye it looked like there had been a competition to see how much leather you could cram into the car. Perhaps the car I was in was Woolworths special edition? That (bitchily) said they are a marvelously engineered piece of kit
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Old 31-03-11, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by lansdownplace View Post
I was in the back of a Bentley Flying Spur recently and to my eye it looked like there had been a competition to see how much leather you could cram into the car. Perhaps the car I was in was Woolworths special edition? That (bitchily) said they are a marvelously engineered piece of kit
Beginning about '85, or so, we were fortunate to be able to have one Bentley or another.

Even if they were still available at the prices then in effect, their current styling turns me off completely.

The only way I do, or would, invest now, is in 1/43rd scale models for my collection, which is pretty much up to date from W. O.'s first models to the more recent.

I only wish I could get a good 1/43rd scale model of a 603, to add to what representations I have of other cars I've owned. I even have the paint to put it in its current iteration.
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Old 31-03-11, 06:06 PM
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Yes, the smaller ones, but the new Mulsanne is a very nice car again.
Bentley has succeeded in creating a modern car without neglecting the marque heritage and traditional design elements. In fact, the car is immediately recognizable as a Bentley.
Something which Jaguar's current designers seem to be completely incapable of. The new XJ ist really horrible. Without the Jaguar logo it could be mistaken for a Lexus, an Infiniti or anything else for that matter.

Regards,
Markus

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Originally Posted by browning l View Post
Even if they were still available at the prices then in effect, their current styling turns me off completely.
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Old 01-04-11, 01:06 AM
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I hope this won't disappoint you, but I cannot agree.

I find them bulbous on both ends and completely without grace or elegance.
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Old 01-04-11, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Markus Berzborn View Post
The new XJ ist really horrible. Without the Jaguar logo it could be mistaken for a Lexus, an Infiniti or anything else for that matter.

Regards,
Markus
I am warming to the Jaguar. I too didn't like it before. I saw an XJ go past last night and it actually LOOKED like a Jaguar - dark colours do really set it off and the interior is pretty good as well. Jaguar are trying to get away from the lazy designing they used to do in the 1990's where the XJ and X-Type were just a retro design homage to the 1968 XJ. With the XF and XJ they have had a huge resergence in popularity. I heard that most V8 supercharged models head off to China.
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Old 01-04-11, 07:34 AM
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It's probably true the car may appeal to a new generation of buyers but noone of the traditional customers I talked to here in Germany (including me) likes it. So my Double Six will be the last Jaguar I bought should the next generation not be better again (to my taste).
What I want to say is I am not against new models of course. But they should while being modern somehow continue a design tradition.
This is perfectly possible, as proven by Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
Or take the Jaguar study Bertone just showed in Geneva. This is what a modern Jaguar should look like and everyone was enthousiastic about it. And it's immediately recognizable as a Jaguar without having to attach a big cat logo to it as on the XF and XJ. Isn't it a shame an independent Italian design house seems to understand the essential marque characteristics better than the company itself?

Regards,
Markus
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Old 01-04-11, 12:59 PM
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Just looked at the Bertone99.

If you didn't have the red taillights, you couldn't tell the front from the rear.

Looks like the car took a heavy dose of steroids every day during its design and manufacture. Great heavy areas at every corner, crowding out the top.
UGH!
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Old 01-04-11, 01:06 PM
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Steroid car design base.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg steroid muscles.jpg (12.3 KB, 10 views)
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Old 01-04-11, 01:13 PM
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Quite obviously, we have different tastes in cars.

I like the Bertone and I like the Mulsanne, you don't.

But at least, we both like Bristols, I presume.

Regards,
Markus

Quote:
Originally Posted by browning l View Post
Just looked at the Bertone99.

If you didn't have the red taillights, you couldn't tell the front from the rear.

Looks like the car took a heavy dose of steroids every day during its design and manufacture. Great heavy areas at every corner, crowding out the top.
UGH!
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