BAC also secured the tooling to manufacture the pre-war BMW 326, 327, and 328, which was the catalyst to consider the production of its own car. The lead BMW engineer (and later Chairman of BMW), Fritz Fiedler, spent three years at BAC, helping make that transition to automobile manufacturing. As a result of this, the Bristol marque was officially launched as the car-focused sub-brand of BAC.
Enter the Bristol 400 in 1947, a luxury touring car with styling similar to the BMW 328 that it was based on, with a frame developed from the 326 and powered by a 2.0L BMW straight-six. In fact, this pre-war platform was what all Bristols were based on until 2003. Later on a 5.2L Chrysler V8 was introduced with the Bristol 407 in 1961, and the 411 was introduced in 1969, ushering in literally a big change to the 400 series.
The Chrysler power plant was subsequently to a 6.2L capacity, with a 30% increase in power; and a three-speed TorqueFlite transmission and limited-slip differential helped push the luxury coupe to 143mph on the motorways. This made the 411 faster than its German competition, and more economical than a Rolls Royce at the time. Not a bad equation.
It’s too bad that the Bristol 400 series cars got progressively less attractive as the model years increased, but with that said, the 411 Series 2 is the sweet spot for me, more refined than the first, and certainly more so than the models that followed with increasingly awkward styling. The 411 continued production until 1976, with some 300 examples manufactured all told. To many Bristol enthusiasts, the 411 was the ultimate example of Bristol’s heritage, what with its unique and eccentric appeal—a high-quality, handmade British machine that sold to only a select few.