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Anglophile seeking Bristol Project

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Old 25-03-11, 05:24 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Posts: 188
Default Anglophile seeking Bristol Project

Hello all! I am new to your site, and have been looking to purchase an old Bristol 408 or 409, hopefully in the U.S. to avoid the shipping expense. As most of you are aware, few Bristols exist in the U.S., and those few are seldom available for sale. I know of only one gentleman who hoards them, and is usually reluctant to part with any. I am hoping that perhaps some member may know someone over here who has a car they would be willing to sell. I am not fussy, having access to a number of skilled people who can do the necessary work to bring one back to standard. The few I have found have been restored to a high standard, and as expected, the asking prices are way beyond my means for a hobby car. Having been the Jaguar E-type route and 3 Aston Martins, I am now ready for something really rare, and seldom seen. I like the idea of the Chrysler power and Torqueflite transmission to simplify repairs and maintenence. Any and all advice and help would be greatly appreicated. My thanks in advance. Ron
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Old 25-03-11, 11:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 153
Default US V8's

Hi Ronald and welcome,

Join the Bristol Owners Club and contact the Club registrar. Offer to help update the US Bristol list. You will get various contact details, and then you begin the updating. As you find owners and update their details for the registrar, ask if the car has either been purchased recently or is for sale. Record this data for the registry as it establishes an idea on the market. Be sure to set up a condition criteria so the price reflects the condition of the car.

You will be surprised to discover owners whose cars are not for sale, but who will say that if someone came along and offered them "$x" they would sell. I bought five Bristols this way and still have one. If I had a bit more money, and a bit more insanity, I discovered that at that time I could have bought all in left hand drive a 401 in OK shape,a 402 with a Jag engine, a perfect 403, a 404 (turquoise), a 405 (that I did buy and now is engine-less in France), a 406, 407, 408, 409 and the 410 (which I did buy and now is fully restored in New York). I found the remains of a 405 drophead and the owner sent me the title, but that one was destroyed in a crash.

I did not intend to become the registrar. I knew I would be eventually moving to New Zealand and wanted to bring a RHD car with me because of the migrant concession (no duty). I used the list the club sent me to search around, and I kept coming across cars that the club had not record of. When I sent in the 4th report, Bob Charlton sent me a fancy certificate appointing me the North American registrar. It was entertainment of a sort to track down cars and speak with their owners. In the process of it, I did find the cars to take with me, but also found a few others that needed rescuing or that were simply convenient.

The big question has to do with your wallet. There are 4 levels of cars available. Well-kept, patina, shabby and rotted. With the first two levels, you pay up front. With the latter two you pay as you go, and you can end up paying more, but you get it your way.

Well-kept: Just as we had made the decision to move to New Zealand a completely restored LHD 403 came on the market. It was not listed, but the owner rang me to say they would sell it. Price was about half what it was worth. But as NZ was a RHD country, I called a friend and told him he would be insane not to buy it. He bought it over the phone, flew down and drove it back from Kentucky to Greenwich Connecticut in time to enter it into the Greenwich Concours, of which I was a part at the time. All he did was drive it through a car-wash. In thanks he gave a me stunning hand crafted wood steering wheel that his company had made as a prototype for Rolls Royce, but they rejected as too expensive! It fits the Bristol steering shaft. Those deals are the ones you want to find, but its like fishing, you have to wait until they bite.

Patina: I bought a RHD 409 that had never been left outside or allowed to deteriorate, making it a perfect daily driver. It had patina rather than the next grade: shabby. Story: As North American registrar I made a practice of reviewing the list of Bristols owned in the USA, and when I had a business trip in the neighborhood, I would make an appointment to photo any cars and fill out a data form I put together - all of which would go off to Bob Charlton in the post for updating the records. I asked the owner the price and dutifully wrote down his number. Halfway up the capital beltway I was thinking about it, looked at my data sheet and stopped at a rest stop and called him from a payphone (this was before cell phones and internet). He verified the price, and I said "would you take a check?" He was asking a third of the market value. When I got to his place 30 minutes later, I was frank in telling him so and asked why so cheap. He said that actively selling a Bristol is hard, can take years and lot's of tire-kickers to waste ones time. He had bought it 25 years prior in London, got his money's worth from it, and was wealthy enough not to need the bother. At that price, he figured someone would snap it up. I did, and did not regret it. I brought it with me to New Zealand and only sold it because living on an island, it was not getting any use. I redid the leather seats, and the next buyer repainted it and re-veneered the timber.

Shabby: Later I had a three week vacation scheduled for Washington State so rather than rent from Hertz, I rang the owner of a LHD 410 to ask if they would sell it for the same price as I bought the 409. They accepted. Bought it sight unseen. It ran, but the paint was shot, the whitewall tires cracking, the interior tired and it needed various mechanicals. I drove it up to Bellingham, had one week to get it repainted, new tires, new exhaust, battery, tank boil out and lots of other stuff. Did not tell my wife, who was coming out with our daughter a week after I bought it. Good car, kept it stored out there. When I moved to NZ, a Brit living in NYC bought it, again sight unseen, had it shipped to the Filton UK factory, spent serious money on it, and it now graces the streets of Manhattan as a like-new car.

Rotted - Then as registrar, I heard about a 408 that turned out to be a 411 that was abandoned in the back field of a car restoration company all of 10 miles from our home in Greenwich CT. I bought it for the storage charges and then spent well over $25,000 on rebuilding the chassis, lots of mechanicals, paint to primer stage, and it still is not sorted. In hindsight, such a car should have been sent in rot-state to a New Zealand restoration shop to have everything done at once, done right. The 411 is the nicest performing car, but it really was in too rough shape to justify. I still have it, and just got it running a few months ago.

So that should help point you in a direction.

Good luck with your search.

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Old 26-03-11, 12:22 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 220

Ronald, where do you live?
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Old 26-03-11, 12:24 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 153
Default 409 in Ontario


Just doing a quick google search I found

1967 BRISTOL 409 - US/UK Touring Sedan.

RHD, shabby. 409.

Owned by an older fellow in western Ontario who was initially making noises in the $10-12,000 bracket, has not set a price, but the broker told him it was too high and estimated in the $5,000 to $7,000 range. Various enthusiasts are sniffing around at the $3,000 to $5,000 range which seems a bit low in today's market. Owner has to decide if he sells or gives it to his son. Owner has held it for 20 years. Had it repainted, but bad prep work means its peeling.

Since the broker stumbled across the car, the owner has been diagnosed with a serious illness, so it is uncertain what will happen. Worth making a call and if the numbers seem right, make an offer.

But that was from two minutes on google and ten minutes on the phone. So don't give up hope, there are plenty out there.

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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 26-03-11, 10:30 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Posts: 188

Claude: Thank you so much for the extensive reply. All of this is helpful, and I am a fairly good car hunter already. The trouble with Bristols is that so few exist, let alone find one for sale. You are right in that they do come up for sale, even on Ebay of all places. I bought one of my Astons, the DB6, behind a farmer's corn crib up in Indiana. He had it shipped from Great Brittan and over to the Great Lakes where he picked it up and drove it home. When I got it, I noticed the choke cables to the triple SU's were missing, and the farmer complained that the car would not start in cold weather and just parked it! It sat outside, and his tractors and wagons got the under-roof space. I am embarrassed to admit that he demanded $3,000 in cash for the car, and I felt immediately obligated to give him what he asked. Now, is that good hunting, or what?
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 17-06-12, 07:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: San Francisco CA
Posts: 19
Default Bristol 411 (Series 3 1973) For Sale

I have a lovely 411 that i have owned since 1996. I shipped it to California when i moved here in 2004 and have gradually worked through a series of renovations. The leather interior and carpets have been re-done and a whole variety of work has been done on working parts over the years.Most recently major work to the suspension. Americans know this engine well of course. Prior to me it was in the hands of the owner of the Rolls Royce/Aston Martin franchise in Scotland who carried out a beautiful paint job to a very high standard (Ford Green). Its been a working car but garaged and seen barely a spot of rain since coming to California! Mileage is 145k. Its time for me to part company with something that i truly love. I'm not a concourse guy or knowledgeable about engines but feel free to contact me through here or email me at
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bristol dreams

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