Lot 138: 1962 Bristol 407/410 Convertible
This unique car - the ‘Viotti’ Bristol - was first registered in 1963 to the famous British actor Peter Sellers. A right-hand drive Bristol 407 chassis clothed in original coachwork by the Italian Carrozziere Esercizio Stabilimenti Viotti, it was a design exercise requested by Bristol Cars and appeared at the 1962 Turin Motor Show. Bristol decided against putting it into production but were persuaded by Sellers to turn the prototype into a fully-finished car which he then bought (as well as the production 407 he had on order). While in Sellers’ ownership the car was usually driven by his wife, the actress Britt Eklund, who was pictured in it often.
By 1971, the factory had bought the car back and between 1972 and 1981 it was used by Miss Carole Crook, one of the company’s directors. During this time it carried the famous plate ‘AC 1’. The car was modernised and updated with a new engine, gearbox and torque converter, as fitted to the 410 model, converted to power steering and given 15 in (as opposed to 16 in) wheels, all of this work being carried out in the Filton factory or London service stations of Bristol Cars. Originally silver, ‘HTW 696B’ was repainted in Ming Blue.
In September 1981 the car was sold, having covered 20,100 miles since the new engine had been fitted in 1972. In 1982 the oil pump driveshaft broke (at 22,034 miles on the new engine) and the car was sent to Filton for repair. It never returned to the then owner and remained in storage at Filton from 1982 to April 1987 when it was bought by Bristol Cars Ltd. During that time, new engine bearings were fitted and the car road tested and run in for 100 miles during a safety check after being laid up. In May/June 1987 the car was prepared for sale, the paintwork being refurbished, a new spare tyre fitted, the boot carpeted, a new battery fitted and an MoT certificate obtained. In September 1987, when the car was purchased from Bristol Cars by the current owner, the mileage on the new engine stood at 22,457.
A new soft-top was fitted in 1991 but by the mid-1990s Viotti’s beautiful steel bodywork (this car is the only steel-bodied Bristol ever built) had become tired and its restoration was entrusted to Ken Arthur, of Coachbuilt Horsepower Ltd, Westbury (video, photographs, invoices and a detailed file of the rebuild are available). Completed in 1995 at a cost of circa £20,000, the car has since done nothing more strenuous than a couple of Norwich Union Rallies, several Bristol meetings and participation in the Parade de Pilotes at the Le Mans 24-Hour race in 2003, commemorating Bristol’s first appearance at Le Mans. Also in 2003 it was invited to, but not displayed at, the Villa d’Este concours (Concept Cars and Prototypes Class). Fewer than 20,000 miles have been covered since Bristol fitted the new bearings and the current mileage is 37,655.
Reported as enormous fun to drive, very fast and un-temperamental ‘HTW 696B’ is an eye-catcher without being vulgar: a unique, driveable, low mileage thoroughbred car, from a rarely encountered designer, possessing impeccable provenance and history. The vehicle is offered with (copy) Bristol Cars Information Sheet and advertisement (1987), MoT/road fund licence to June 2006 and Swansea V5 registration document.
Important Sports & Competition Motor Cars|
Bonhams, Goodwood Revival, Chichester
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