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New Directions For Bristol Design

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Old 27-02-10, 03:52 AM
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Default New Directions For Bristol Design

An Open Letter to Gordon Farquar on Bristol Design

Gordon,
I have read your preliminary thesis which I found very interesting.
Your task to design a new Bristol motor car is challenging. Unfortunately you have found out the hard way that fist impressions are still very influential
ie poor spelling and clumsy sentences do not exemplify excellence. Excellence is expected in the luxury car market. Having said that, if your designs are good, all else will be forgotten.

I have no formal training in design, but I offer the following thoughts:

1. Is design important to Bristol Cars?
I make this statement earnestly when I note that people are still buying the
dated looking Blenheim. The key idea here is that perhaps EXCLUSIVITY and not DESIGN is the most influential purchasing factor. An extension of this idea is that Bristol Cars may be content with producing the relatively small number of cars that they produce every year and therefore any significant investment in design may be unwarranted. In short, the company may not want to expand their market.

2. Does Bristol want to expand it’s market?
Would Bristol like to sell more cars to people who would otherwise purchase a Bentley, an Aston or indeed a Jag? If so, would it not be wise to survey all potential purchasers and not just existing Bristol owners? Further, I think that it would be important to delineate between initial buyers of Bristols vs subsequent ownership as owner perceptions may be different.

3. It follows that, if Bristol does want to expand their market, then they need to very accurately determine the needs of these new people. Intrinsic in this move is for Bristol Cars to gauge what designs their revised target ownership would enjoy. Thus, in design terms, style may have to move from UNDERSTATED TO .............MILD STATEMENT!

4. Is there a clear connection between potential owner’s needs and the preliminary designs? Perhaps I misread your report Gordon, but I didn’t see a clear connection here. Interestingly, Bristol may not have undertaken any significant customer design surveys in the past! No disrespect to you or your efforts, but with reference to my first point about exclusivity – I reiterate, perhaps design surveys may be meaningless in this low volume market!

5. If design really does matter in this market, would the Bristol Fighter be a worthy candidate for an upgrade? In my view, as a backyard designer, the profile of the Fighter befits it’s name, but alas, front on, the machine is not a “Strike Fighter” – it is a Meteor and not a Mirage or a F15.

6. Is there a market for a UK produced “high end” electric car? If so, perhaps Bristol can work in partnership with Frazer Nash (electric) Cars. Historians will not the connection here!

In closing, I hope that this feedback is constructive. I look forward to looking at your final designs.

Regards,

Brett (Australia)
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Old 27-02-10, 11:53 AM
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Well put, Brett.

At Gordon's initiative, following his thanking me for my comments, he asked me for some elaboration on what I had first written.
We exchanged a couple of emails in which I attempted to talk about some of the points you've made. You've addressed it from a slightly different angle than I did, but your points are clearly expressed, and, imo, valid.

Col. Sanders' nephew.
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Old 27-02-10, 12:02 PM
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My initial impressions of Gordon's work were positive, as I said before I was particularly impressed by the overall presentation. However, looking back at Gordon's initial post he said;

"I am a university student currently in the early stages of a final major project to design a new car for Bristol. "

Yet the draft version of his "project proposal" says the premise of the project was to "reinvent the Bristol Cars brand", which to my mind is more an exercise in marketing rather than "transportation design".

One could of course reinvent the Bristol brand as an exercise, but it might have been wiser to do it with a brand that no longer exists. After all, Gordon himself says "they do not advertise and they are not a well known brand - and it would appear that this is the way they like it".

Ironically, I believe many more people are aware of Bristol cars than they were 10 years ago, mainly due to the Fighter. It has caught the attention of many hoons around the world, in particular the Fighter T with it's 1000+ bhp power output.

While Bristol don't advertise in a traditional sense, articles have appeared quite regularly in several of the most popular car magazines. I'm sure this is not by chance.
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Old 27-02-10, 01:06 PM
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You are correct, of course, Kevin, it is not by chance. Toby Silverton has obviously worked assiduously to build relationships with the press and all others interested in Bristols, knowing full well it will redound to the marque's benefit. We have chatted about the recent articles; he is pleased to get the publicity, while shaking his head about their approach or results.

That most of the authors don't seem to be able to get into any depth (this may be a problem of 1. a lack of space allocated in the publication, or 2) a proclivity on an editor's part to prefer the sensational rather than the true journalistic approach), this doesn't keep the PR from being beneficial to Bristol.

Although sales of Balfour's book may not be large in numbers, that effort, as its impact ripples outward, has to be significant. Will most writers read it before interviewing Toby? Probably not.

I suggested to Gordon that it was a must read for him in his project.
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Old 27-02-10, 03:16 PM
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Firstly, may I begin by saying a big thank you for beginning a new thread to discuss my project in-depth, Brett. and Thank you to Mr Howard and Mr Browning also

To address a number of comments you have made:

- Kevin mentioned my initial brief and my proposal to "reinvent the Bristol brand"; This was the very first project proposal with only surface research completed, and from this I drew the assumption that Bristol required reinventing. I believe one word applied here perhaps; Naivety! Even by the time I had posted on the Bristol forum, this assumption had changed somewhat. I had hoped that my revised brief had communicated a greater depth of understanding of the brand, drawing the conclusion that actually it does not need reinventing but, alas, maybe it did not!

I do agree with Brett that the lead purchasing criteria is perhaps exclusivity, but I believe this does not need to come as a compromise to the design. I believe the aim of my design project is to minimise the number of compromises that need to be made by the buyer when buying a Bristol; why settle for an individual-looking car, when you could have a beautiful-looking individual car. This is why I spoke to owners again in my project towards the end, trying to understand why individuality matters to them.

From the point made above, how much more would buyers be attracted to the brand if the cars were not just different, but also beautiful and attractive. I think Brett has phrased this accurately, moving the brand from understated-ness to mild statement. However there has been advice for me in my project to design a "drop-dead gorgeous looking" car. This and Bristol's philosophy are not considered mutually exclusive. This advice accompanied opinion that a slightly more aggressive style would have been appropriate for the Fighter, and the suggestion of looking at the 1950s Bentley and the Alfa as cars where the designers "got it right".

Also, I have had to put a slight slant on my research for the purposes of the design degree I am undertaking and I believe a number of these have influenced both my presentation of the document and your feedback; your points are, however, very valid. These "slight slants" come in a variety of forms, from the CPA comparison of Blenheim and Bentley to the talk of other marques such as Morgan and Jaguar. I maybe subliminally communicated by these (or you may have assumed, or perhaps both!) that I believe these communicate an aim for where Bristol should be. In fact, I do not believe that Bristol are deficient; I only intended to highlight that Bristol are different! I have maybe failed in articulating my findings; the purpose for Bristol being different.

Another point, one key assumption I have had to make is that Bristol Cars cannot assume that because there is a current market, there will be a guaranteed future market.

This is after receiving guidance from lecturers that I must assume the stance "as a designer, I know better" (at this point, I would ask you please not to to pick me up on this statement. I am limited in my ability to change it - I don't think i believe it, but my lecturers maintain that it should be the case)

Continuing, many people are not aware of the Bristol brand, I believe from it being almost completely out of the media for a period recently (in my own experience, growing up reading car magazines and going to shows, i saw perhaps one mention?) and so I see securing the next market for Bristol as key to the company's survival. In a sense then, this is what I am trying to achieve with my design project. I do agree that Bristol are content with the current scale of their business, and so I do not see attracting new users as an attempt to scale up production, but rather to ensure that it stays at least at its current level for the future. This is the window I have established where I can implement change.

About speaking to the target market, this was seen by lecturers as key to the project; a requirement of the project from formal documentation and so a must to be completed. I believe I have learned a great deal about the brand from users and so I consider it a very valuable exercise. In terms of this then shaping my designed outcome, I am currently working to apply this. More design work will emerge soon, i hope it will articulate this

Your question about high-end electric is a very interesting one; I did address it to extent (concept 4) There is the British car, the Lightning and the Tesla (not the Roadster, but the Type S) and I thought that possibly competing with these at a time when electric cars are so niche anyway was perhaps not a way forward for this Project. I have done some extensive research into electric cars on a placement and definitely see their merit though. I think what BetterPlace are aiming to do is admirable.

In closing, about the Bristol cars website and a greater media exposure; I saw this maybe as a time when Bristol could come a little more into the limelight, in order to secure the aforementioned future market through a knowledge of the brand's existance. I felt that with the Fighter and the increasing occurances of articles in magazines etc, I could potentially extend this movement slightly -

Finally, I am currently engaged in communication with my university library, requesting an inter-library loan of Balfour's book. In fact, I have been since its first mention to me in January. It's not in the British Library, so they're currently asking round. I would love to own a copy, and it would be invaluable to the project I know, but being a student i just can't afford to buy it.

May I say another big thank you for all your help on my Bristol project.
I value that people are taking the time to speak to me about it and love the fact that people have opinions, so we can discuss it!
design causes debate!

(apologies for the length of this post by the way)

Gordon
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Old 27-02-10, 09:12 PM
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Well I think the current Blenheim IS a beautiful looking individual car.

Regards
Markus

Quote:
Originally Posted by gjaf View Post
why settle for an individual-looking car, when you could have a beautiful-looking individual car.
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Old 27-02-10, 10:55 PM
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Rather difficult to debate that.
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Old 27-02-10, 11:09 PM
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Default New Directions For Bristol Design

I agree with Markus. My favorite Blenheim three is the light blue/
magnolia&blue piping leather car that was Tony Crook's.

It is the interior of all of the 603 derivatives that I love.

Paul
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Old 01-03-10, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gjaf View Post
Firstly, may I begin by saying a big thank you for beginning a new thread to discuss my project in-depth, Brett. and Thank you to Mr Howard and Mr Browning also.

Gordon
I wonder whether it wouldn't be worth Gordon having a look at Wiessmann as a benchmark for his Bristol project. Wiessmann claim to be a small (100 employees) manufactory of exclusive handbuilt sports cars - a sort of 21st century German version of Bristol but without the history!

They offer tours around their works not far from Essen for a consideration! Another sponsor required!

But at least I am sure he will like their website!

Good luck to you Gordon

Richard
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Old 01-03-10, 02:31 PM
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I don't like the Wiesmann cars very much, to be honest.
True, they are technically advanced and up to date as the components are sourced from BMW.
But the car itself has a flashy replica/retro character about it, i.e. pretending to be a classic roadster without actually being a classic roadster.
As opposed to that, Bristol cars are not intentionally retro (with the possible exception of the Blenheim Speedster), they just slowly evolved.

Regards,
Markus
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Old 01-03-10, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markus Berzborn View Post
I don't like the Wiesmann cars very much, to be honest.
Markus
Markus,

I agree. I would far rather own a(nother) Bristol than a Wiesmann. But maybe I am biased.
However I still think that for Gordon a comparison/benchmark with Wiesmann would be interesting in terms of design and manufacturing philosophy. Far better than comparing with some of the other well-known manufacturers of so-called supercars.

Regards
Richard
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Old 01-03-10, 04:30 PM
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Default New Directions For Bristol Design

May I give a comment from a German view, I think the current Blenheims and all the models after the 412 (which is an absolutely ugly car -thats why I like it ...not the Fighter that looks pretty nice and modern) look always like Ford Granada or so - very very dated and so eccentric like the Bristol show room in Kensington. Regards Hans
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Old 01-03-10, 04:42 PM
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I actually like the looks of the 412. And it is not the only controversial design by Zagato. The Aston Martin V8 Zagato from the eighties was and is not to everyone's taste either.
What impresses me about the 412 is that it's such a bold statement by Zagato - uncluttered and pure angular lines as could only be conceived in the seventies (see Aston Martin Lagonda, Lotus Esprit a.o.) and a clear departure from the 411.

Regards,
Markus
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Old 01-03-10, 04:56 PM
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Like a lot of people I could not see anything attractive about the 412 at first glance. I now believe that it's looks can vary so much more than other cars depending on the colour ! I have really taken a liking to the two tone one at the last Australian car show and the silver one owned by Lansdownplace.

The rest look like upturned telephone boxes or a chest freezers

All I need to do now is see beauty in 603's and Joe Brand

Greg
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Old 01-03-10, 06:07 PM
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Default Re: 412

Greg, I saw Paul Lansdowne Place's 412 at the Rally. It looks fantastic, and like you say, it showed how good a 412 can be. So many are just rather tatty, which doesn't help their cause, of course. Maybe their day is coming.
I had a Lagonda Rapide for many years. I loved it, but it was said that it didn't sell well, because of its frontal appearance, which was "different". They are at last becoming recognised for the good car they really are. I think the 412 falls into the same bracket. Love it or hate it.

Oh, and Jo Brand looks rather good nowdays too.
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Old 01-03-10, 06:26 PM
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Quote -- Oh, and Jo Brand looks rather good nowadays too.
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A pint of what you're having please !

Greg
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Old 01-03-10, 06:47 PM
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Default New Directions For Bristol Design

Hi Greg, funny you should mention Jo Brand.......
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Old 01-03-10, 07:12 PM
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That's a new producer for me. I just looked at that site; I am not impressed with the styling. The cars look almost as though several different designers each contributed their own favorite selections from other cars; the end result approaches being a styling mish-mash.

There are a few interesting touches, such as the instruments canted toward the driver, though, and so far as one can tell from the photos the level of finish appears well-done.
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Old 01-03-10, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard View Post
Markus,

I agree. I would far rather own a(nother) Bristol than a Wiesmann. But maybe I am biased.
However I still think that for Gordon a comparison/benchmark with Wiesmann would be interesting in terms of design and manufacturing philosophy. Far better than comparing with some of the other well-known manufacturers of so-called supercars.

Regards
Richard
Surely the most suitable manufacturer for Gordon to look at would be Morgan. THe AeroMax was designed by Matt Humphries whilst he was still at University for Prince Eric Sturdza and made a limited production run of 100 cars. Matt is now the Chief Designer at the company and his latest iteration on the Aero theme is shown here: Aero SuperSports See more on the Jay Leno site: Morgan Aero SuperSports - Sports Cars - Jay Leno's Garage

The cars are still coachbuilt, though the aluminium panels on the SuperSport are all Superformed these days. Engines are BMW's 4.8L V8's and there are such modern touches, as airbags, ABS, EBD, etc.

I must agree to not being completely dispassionate in my enthusiasm as I own an AeroMax and currently, have an Aero SuperSport under build. I think that the addition of a modern Bristol will give me a pretty perfect stable of cars.

Brian
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Old 01-03-10, 08:13 PM
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Default New direction for Bristol design

...subjectivity is a wonderful if you want to stimulate debate as all will have a view, as demonstrated with colourful regularity on this site.

To be objective is harder, especially if you are not the one actually making the decisions. So here is my stab at subjectivity....

Bristol cars is a tiny company with limited access to modern technology, as opposed to such companies as Aston Martin etc who have access to the technologies of a parent company.

The investment committed to develop the Fighter would indicate that as many components would be carried over including possibly the chassis, suspension and even drive train (the post production supply of parts that companies are required to guarantee will soon expire on the Blenheim power train).

The chassis would be extended to accommodate four occupants, seated at a less rakish angle, with the body work designed to include those touches made famous by Bristol including the spare wheel and battery/brake cylinders placed in the wings. The glass area of the body would be such as to allow the driver a similar panoramic view as in the Blenheim and of course doors that open in the traditional way.

The drive train could be retained if it is possible to have a dual-fuel facility (which would become a standard feature), the LPG tank/s would become an integrated feature as opposed to an add on.

The styling is in many ways dictated by the elements listed above, length, width, height, wheel base are all likely to be similar to the Blenheim as would be the weight. The fighter was styled, so we are told, to be primarily efficient rather than meet any current trend, something that Bristols are renown for, if for no other reason than the models will be in production for decades, as opposed to most mass producers who will re-style/replace their models every five years or so.

The fact that the Fighter doesn't follow fashion doesn't seem to have put buyers off, if anything those that have the means to purchase a vehicle in this price bracket value quality and individuality above current fads, or maybe it is that they can also afford to satisfy their craving for all things 'new' and 'modern' in the other purchases they make.

Bristol make much, as indeed they should, of their aviation roots and this would, for me, be the cue for the styling; aerodynamic but eschewing spoilers etc possibly containing styling features from the Fighter a precedent set with the 404 and 405.
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