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Lot 370: Bristol 403 Sports Saloon

Collectors' Motor Cars, Bonhams (30 April 2012)

With the introduction of the 401 - the first of its exquisitely styled aerodynes - Bristol began to move away from the pre-war design the company had inherited from BMW. Carrozzeria Touring provided the Superleggera method of body construction that overlaid alloy panels on a lightweight tubular-steel framework, while the low-drag shape was achieved after hours of experimentation in the Bristol Aeroplane Company's wind tunnel. The 401 continued to use its predecessor's running gear and BMW-based, 2.0-litre, six-cylinder engine with its ingeniously arranged, pushrod-operated, inclined valves. The gearbox remained a manual four-speed unit with first-gear freewheel. With the introduction of the 403 in 1953, Bristol improved on what was already an exemplary Grand Tourer, the newcomer's apparently unchanged appearance disguising a number of important changes. The engine remained a 2.0-litre six of basically BMW design but the alloy cylinder head was new and helped liberate 100bhp, up from 85. The increase in straight-line performance (top speed was now in excess of 100mph) was matched by improvements to the running gear in the form of a front anti-roll bar and finned light-alloy brake drums. This example of one of the most highly prized of early Bristols was acquired by the current vendor in 1991, since when it has covered fewer than 1,000 miles. Between 2006 and 2010 the car underwent extensive restoration and comes with photographs and bills totalling 38,000. Work carried out includes a bare metal strip-down, body repairs and replacement; re-spray by Andy Merry of Wareham; and an engine rebuild by Tony Hatchet of AV Preparations, Bournemouth. Other areas receiving attention include the brakes (new master cylinders, shoes, steel and flexible pipe work); front uprights/shock absorbers (replaced); steering rack flexible coupling (replaced); gearbox (reconditioned); and brightwork (re-chromed). The Koni rear dampers, clutch, half-shafts, hubcaps, tyres/tubes and under-carpet sound deadening are new, while the electrical system has been upgraded with an alternator. Described by the vendor as in generally excellent condition, with nicely patinated interior, the car is offered with MoT/tax to October 2012 and Swansea V5 document for the most appropriate registration 'TKL 403'.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars
Bonhams, The Royal Airforce Museum, London, UK
Lot Number370
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£37000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£42550
Condition rating1
Registration numberTKL 403
Chassis number403/1542
Engine number100A/3246
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors