A medley for Sunday

Across the road from the bus-stop, there stood this VW Passat:

A dark photo of a dark car. Source: reality

Around the C-pillar I saw a lot of what in the olden days we’d call BMW style. I reflect a lot on how BMW once did some of the work involved in epitomising German design, but it’s been a long time since this : Continue reading “A medley for Sunday”

1969 Bristol 411 Roadtest

In what seems to be a transcript of a period review, the legendary motoring correspondent Archie Vicar reports on the ‘all-new’ Bristol 411.

1969 Bristol 411: source
1969 Bristol 411: source

This article could well have first appeared in the Sheffield Sunday Post, 25th Jan 1970. Due to the poor quality of the original images (by Douglas Land-Windermere), stock photos have been used.

It’s all change at Bristol. The fast-moving Filton manufacturer has responded to the challenges of the times with a veritable flotilla of improvements to their latest car, the 411. Bristol has many unique attributes to help it stay ahead of the competition in these increasingly competitive times. First among them is the remarkably high level of quality on which they insist: the cars are hand-made by craftsman steeped in aviation engineering and versed in production methods that go back decades. While Rolls-Royce and indeed Bentley have switched to monococque construction – making them little more than Cortinas with wood and walnut, some say Continue reading “1969 Bristol 411 Roadtest”

Bristol Bullet (Part II)

Quite some time has elapsed since I mentioned I’d write a little about the Bristol Bullet. 

2016 Bristol Bullett: autocar.co.uk
2016 Bristol Bullet: autocar.co.uk

This reminds me of the legendary Archie Vicar taking several months to decide what he thought about the Peugeot 505. You can read the general outline here: big engine, light car, Italian retromod styling, carbonfibre body and a big price tag (£250,000). My first reaction is to welcome the existence of the car even if it’s not something I’d want to buy were I to have more of the world’s money than I do. Continue reading “Bristol Bullet (Part II)”

Bristol Bullet (Part I) – Life After Filton?

I’ve always been aware of Bristol Cars, but it was only in this century that I started looking at them more closely. 

Bristol Bullet In Disguise - image ; bristoloda.org
New Bristol Bullet In Disguise – image : bristoloda.org

Until then, they were an oddity, but one that, for some reason, seemed to engender goodwill rather than antagonism in me. Bearing in mind its scant production over the past decades, there is a surprising amount of goodwill felt towards Bristol in the world of the motoring enthusiast, though often not accompanied by much actual knowledge. Continue reading “Bristol Bullet (Part I) – Life After Filton?”

Silent Running – 1976 Bristol 603

Bristol launched the 603 in 1976. They were still making a derivation of it right up to their demise in 2009. We chart its languid progress.

1976 Bristol 603. Image: only-carz
1976 Bristol 603. Image: only-carz

Considering the fact that Bristol used a variation of the same chassis for half a century, it might seem a little pointless discussing the 603 as a stand-alone model. Especially so when one considers how much the end-of-days Blenheim 4S owed to its 1976 forebear. However, it did mark one of those rare evolutionary shifts in Bristol style – one which saw them through the next thirty-odd years, although in retrospect that may have been unwise. Continue reading “Silent Running – 1976 Bristol 603”

Browsing the High Street – Kensington Style

With no news at all to report on Bristol Cars, we just give the pot a little stir.

IMG_4243

Citroen, Lancia, the Toyota Crown … those who visit this site frequently will notice that some subjects recur more often than others. One that, surprisingly, doesn’t (at least not since last June) is another of our one-time fixations, Bristol Cars. In November 2010, I spent a very interesting half hour with Bristol’s then head, Toby Silverton, in Bristol’s Kensington showrooms. His enthusiasm for the Fighter was infectious, and I still imagine it would be a worthwhile car to have. Continue reading “Browsing the High Street – Kensington Style”

Theme: Economy – Spend Now Or Spend Later?

Economy sounds like a very objective word. It’s to do with numbers and we all agree what they mean, don’t we?

A lifetime of motoring: hyundai uk
A lifetime of motoring: hyundai uk

If we assume a person drives for fifty years of their life, is it cheaper to buy a long-lived car or to drive a fuel-efficient but short-lived mayfly? Whilst numbers can be applied to both scenarios, it is really a value judgement about which set we prefer.

In a simple example, I paid £150 (Irish pounds) for a jacket in 1997 and I still have it. The annual cost has been £8.33 per year so far. I expect I will still Continue reading “Theme: Economy – Spend Now Or Spend Later?”

Theme : Shutlines – Another Way

Bristol Is A Foreign Country …

Bristol4

… They Do Things Differently There.

Here at DTW, we have always held Bristol in great respect. If we haven’t written about them that much over the past couple of years, that’s because neither have they. What, if anything, will come from this silence, who knows, but if and when they re-emerge, will they maintain any of their idiosyncratic past?

Bristol, of course, made much of their aviation heritage. I’ve always felt that should be put into perspective. The Bristol Car Company was always a separate entity from the plane business and, although there might have been some synergy, it doesn’t follow. In truth the aeronautical heritage was more of a marketing tool but, to consider Bristol’s post war aeronautical output, let’s look at two planes. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – Another Way”

Theme : Evolution – Or Metamorphosis?

We trace a direct descendent.

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In 1922, against great opposition from his board, Herbert Austin introduced his Seven into a market dominated by the rudimentary cyclecars that had sprung up in the wake of the First World War. The Seven was a proper small car and, unlike other ‘people’s cars’, it had no radical and untried solutions. Continue reading “Theme : Evolution – Or Metamorphosis?”

Bristol Returns To Its BMW Roots

Recent reports are suggesting that Bristol is going to return to car manufacture using BMW engines as part of a hybrid powertrain. 

Bristol 603, a hybrid of American and British engineering.
Bristol 603, a hybrid of American and British engineering.

The photo shows one of Bristol’s earlier efforts. The new cars are going to be rather different, featuring a bought-in engine from BMW and electric power systems from Frazer-Nash engineering who now own Bristol. Continue reading “Bristol Returns To Its BMW Roots”

An American View of Bristol

Via the Bristol Owner’s website I found this nice American take on Bristol cars. The photo is from the Curbside Classics website which I can’t recommend highly enough.

This is a Bristol 411 from the time when Bristol cars were beautiful.
This is a Bristol 411 from the time when Bristol cars were beautiful: thanks to Curbside Classics for the image.

The 411 looks like a combination of the proportions of a Jaguar XJ-6 and the surface treatment of a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. We have had some debate about the British ability to style cars. This one shows that a British car need not be heavily ornate to look good.

Bristol Returns: The 2015 Pinnacle

Bristol Cars’ new owners have announced the launch of the first wholly new vehicle since the Fighter of 2003.

2015 Bristol Pinnacle
2015 Bristol Pinnacle

Called the Pinnacle, the new car is to feature a combination of Bristol hallmarks and modern touches. Carried over are the customs of making the bodies by hand (Bristol require a panel beater) and using very high quality materials. New to Bristol will be the use of battery power and range extension technology. There might even be cup-holders.

Also new to Bristol is the notion of merchandising, which to spell it out, is the selling of non-automotive products branded with the Bristol logo. That’s done to promote the brand (something Bristol didn’t try hard to do) and to make money (something Bristol didn’t manage very well towards the end). Continue reading “Bristol Returns: The 2015 Pinnacle”

Theme : Facelifts – Bristol Cars and Facelifts as a Way of Life

For the very rich there are two modes of consumption.

1958 Bristol 406
1958 Bristol 406

One is to buy the latest thing and replace it as soon as something better comes along. The other mode is to buy something that lasts forever like a castle or a Bristol. The Filton-based firm was a small one and prided itself on the quality of its vehicles. And they are cars that last, being capable of almost indefinite service life, much like a castle, as it happens.

Continue reading “Theme : Facelifts – Bristol Cars and Facelifts as a Way of Life”