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Bristol Cars and Engines by LJK Setright.

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Old 11-12-16, 12:56 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: West Wales.
Posts: 464
Default Bristol Cars and Engines by LJK Setright.

I bought my first copy when it came out ordered from my local book/paper shop ( the good old days) for the grand sum of 5.50p, at that time there was very little published about the cars, Old Motor had done a few features as had Classic Car with one article about the 401, for a long time that was it so needless to say Setright's book was read cover to cover several times.
A few years later Godfey Oxley-Sidey published his first book, very readable but much like his efforts in the club magazine, his second effort was far better and set the standard for a few years to come and in line with most motor books by then was far better illustrated.
Setright took the stage again with his book published by Palawan, lavish extravagant and a perfect platform for him to demonstrate his mastery of the English language but not a comfortable read, and I mean that in the physical sense its just too big and heavy to rest on your lap and I hate reading books on the table or on book rests!, the end result after years of ownership it has never been read cover to cover though the picture volume was.
Christofer Balfours book was a long awaited absolute gem, it brought the whole storey up to date and perhaps corrected a few earlier misconceptions and perhaps Setrights bias on some points. It is a book I enjoy dipping into again and again, but reading again the chapter in Setrights original book on Areodine's today made me remember what a wonderful introduction to Bristol Cars it is, albeit that it only goes up to the period of the late 411 series.
It is a book if you have not read it or do not own a copy that is well worth seeking out, Setriight owned a 401 a 405 and a 404 before he bought his 409 and the book is worth reading for his comments on that alone, perhaps also as an insight into a period when more owners worked on their cars and bought them for a love of what they were, what they drove like rather than what they were worth.
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Old 11-12-16, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Redditch, Worcester, England
Posts: 57

Yes Geoff,

Having been an owner since 1968 I have seen the change in the types of owners, which I suppose was inevitable as values changed. I love my 401, it's all I can afford as I do not have a fleet and do not fit into the Hooray Henry class. I agree with your closing sentence.

perhaps also as an insight into a period when more owners worked on their cars and bought them for a love of what they were, what they drove like rather than what they were worth.
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Old 20-12-16, 07:41 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 1,169

It was Setright's Palawan Press book that got me interested in Bristol cars, in some ways I wish it hadn't, because it has been a huge money sinkhole. Indeed if it wasn't for that book, this web site wouldn't exist.

You say
Having been an owner since 1968 I have seen the change in the types of owners, which I suppose was inevitable as values changed

It was inevitable because that was 48 years ago!

I dare say more Bristols are now being restored and repaired by experts rather than bodged by their owners. Also cars that would have been not deemed worthy of saving are now being bought and restored rather than scrapped. That is the flip side of rising values and people buying them for what they might be worth in the future.
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Old 01-01-17, 04:36 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: West Wales.
Posts: 464

The money pit I agree with, I sadly do not have the ability to weld, fabricate parts or paint my cars myself but at least I am sufficiently hands on to save myself a hell of a lot of money.
I think future values are reflected in a comment I made about the Duncan Hamilton advert for their 411 series 3, rising values however fill me with a mixture of optimism and dread because as a long term owner I paid lees for all my Bristol cars than it would cost to repair or buy for example a high specification 2 Litre engine today.
Also sadly I know that in the past and even today we have been ripped off big time, e.g when the specialists were quoting 6k for repairing the rear end rot on a V8 my first one was done for under 2500 in my own workshop and the next for about half that as we knew the measurements for the repair panels needed, how to tackle the job and how to eradicate the rust traps. If I and my welder were younger we would have set ourselves up for this full time and made a killing!
I despair sometimes when I see the extent that some people rip the cars apart for restoration where more local repairs would suffice.
I recently as an "owner/bodger" had one of the most disappointing drives I have ever had in a Bristol 401, professionally restored it went reasonably well but had heavy steering and more creaks and groans from the bodywork than an Austin Sheerline I had years ago with a weak wooden body frame. Overall the structural problems contributed to a very disappointing driving experience and not at all representative of what the cars should be like.
This car had been through a well known restorer and had all the body skin removed, the photos with it proved to me it was overkill, the 60K bill for bodywork alone sadly only illustrated how badly the owner had been taken for a ride , the doors would not open and close properly and on the road as I said the body creaked and groaned to an extent I had never experienced before in a Bristol. The sad thing was that I was told this car was very nice to drive before it was restored.
There are sadly in my part of the UK limited numbers of people who know how to properly restore Bristol's however if you know and understand the cars properly from hands on experience then owners can save themselves an absolute fortune getting mechanical and bodywork repairs done locally with good engineers and bodywork repairers and painters . I accept this can only be achieved with a lot of time spent hands on in the workshop on preparation, fitting up and the actual management of the project itself but if you get into it and do your homework as I suspect you may agree it is not that difficult.
Setright started me off on the road to ruin with his first book on Bristol Cars in 1974, following Tom Craig turning up to teach us metalwork at school with his 401, to both I am eternally grateful.
I have been an owner of Bristol cars since I bought my first 401 a few years later and have learnt a lot along the way, in the early years it was more bodge than restore because they were simply cheap old cars and I was learning along the way but I wouldn't have missed a minute of it , its a hell of a lot more fun being directly involved in a project if you can than simply paying the restorer and the transport company to take your pride and joy to some swanky lawn to display in the battle of the cheque books!.
It is as you said still a sink hole for funds but perhaps we should not worry about the future values, as a friend of mine recently told me in response to a question of what his 403's would be worth after his day he replied nothing, bemused the other party said why? the reply to that was " no bugger will be able to pay me!".
Happy new year and best wishes,

Last edited by Geoff Kingston; 01-01-17 at 02:57 PM. Reason: Alteration and clarification on some points.
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