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1953 Bristol 401 Coupe

See New Pricing! Rare and Interesting Bristol with Matching Numbers, California Mille Veteran

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VIN 4013626
Exterior Color Dark Red
Interior Color Tan
Mileage 55039 Miles
Engine 2.0 Litre 6-Cylinder no. 2248
Transmission 4-Speed
Status Sold
Stock FJ1788


1953 Bristol 401 Coupe
s/n 401/3/626, engine no. 2248
Dark Red with Tan Interior

Bristol had produced some of Great Britain’s most effective aircraft and aircraft engines as far back as before World War I, and transitioned their engineering and manufacturing prowess to the manufacture of automobiles (in addition to the continued manufacture of aircraft and aircraft engines) at the end of World War II.

The Bristol 401 was an innovative and surprisingly capable car that was particularly advanced for its era. With an aerodynamic aluminum body (no doubt selected because of the company’s experience making aluminum aircraft) initially penned by Touring and Bristol’s excellent triple carbureted inline-6 (which had come from BMW and was subsequently fitted to the AC Bristol), the cars were quick and capable. The bodies used a Superleggera type construction of aluminum panels over steel tubes, and the shape was honed in the wind-tunnel to minimize drag. A 4-speed manual transmission backed the engine, and the car was reportedly capable of 100mph, and impressive feat given its 2 liter engine and comfortable, spacious, and well-trimmed interior. The Aerodynes were also quite useful in competition event, driven by team drivers Tony Crook and Roy Salvadori.

This is matching numbers car is one of a handful of Aerodynes in the United States, and has been here since about 1999, prior to which it was in the United Kingdom. It was purchased by a collector in Northern California, who acquired it from a gentleman in Illinois who had a sizable collection of British cars. That owner reportedly spent a significant amount of money on mechanical aspects of the car, including an engine rebuild, although we do not have documentation to support this on hand. The California owner bought it to run the California Mille, which he successfully completed in 2008, and he owned the car for approximately four years. It was then sold via Fantasy Junction a few years ago to its current owner, who has addressed a few minor cosmetic and mechanical items during his ownership.

Cosmetically, the car is an attractive example, with a nice older repaint showing a few chips, stress cracks and light wear, although the overall impression is nice, with a pleasant patina. The brightwork is in nice shape as well with some swirls but no major deterioration. The glass and lights are in similar condition although the weather stripping around the front windscreen is showing some aging.

The interior is in good condition and appears to be substantially original. The leather has creasing but is intact and still supple. The dashboard and steering wheel are unique and evocative, like the rest of the car. The wood is in good shape, with older finish that has lost some luster but the wood itself is in good condition appears to be free of cracking. The gauges appear unrestored and are in nice shape, which is also true of the carpets and headliner.

The engine compartment is in tidy unrestored condition, with nicely polished valve covers and carburetor cover. The rest of the engine compartment is in clean older condition. The trunk is trimmed in carpet to match the interior, and is absolutely massive, with space for ample baggage and an impressive tool kit.

The car runs and drives well. Like all Bristol 2 liter engines, this one has a fantastic exhaust note, and aside from being a bit cold-blooded, it runs very well. The gearbox is easy to use, the brakes are effective, and the chassis is compliant while also providing good body control.

This is an excellent opportunity to acquire an interesting and attractive car that will appeal to the car enthusiast who is looking for something truly different. Beautifully engineered and technically interesting, the 401 also represents exceptional value. Its inline 6 cylinder engine, spacious and well-trimmed interior, and aerodynamic aluminum body are traits shared with the Bentley R-Type Continental, and because of its build date, the 401 is eligible for prestigious events such as the California Mille. Certainly it represents a far more unique alternative to the other eligible cars in this price range such as a Jaguar XK, Porsche 356, or Alfa Giulietta. This particular car has matching-numbers and has demonstrated itself to be a trustworthy touring car and offers good weather protection, and ample passenger and luggage space.


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Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA

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