Porsche Panamera Design Inspiration Discovered

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer

Ever since the first Panamera spy shots appeared, I had this nagging feeling that I’d seen this car before. Repeated memory bank searches came up empty, but I knew it was out there somewhere. Last night we went to see the very excellent film “An Education”, and there it was, coming around a curve on a London street circa 1961:

Eureka! A Bristol 405! Bristol is a truly remarkable outfit, comparable in some ways to Morgan, in that they just keep doing the same thing that they’ve been doing since 1945: building expensive coach-built (“bespoke”) coupes in very limited numbers. Their first car, the 1947 Model 400, was heavily based on pre-WW2 BMWs. Styling was almost a dead ringer for BMW’s 327, and its engine and suspension were BMW clones as well. The 2 liter six and front suspension were based the BMW’s 328 and the rear suspension from the 326. Bristol even used BMW’s famous double-kidney BMW grille intact.

After 1961, Bristol switched over to Chrysler V8 engines. Two door coupes carrying the number designations from 400 through 412 were built through 1994, with only very gradual and and subtle changes. The distinctive long nose on all these cars was the result of a compartment inside the front fender just behind the front wheel to store the spare “tyre”. The Bristol 603 is still made to this day in a number of variants, and is about as exclusive as it gets in a new car. It’s truly a living relic of the authentic classic British upper-crust-mobile. PBS Mystery’s “Inspector Lynley” drives a classic maroon 409.

The 405 is unique, because it was the only four-door in the line. Built between 1955 and 1958, it had one of the last of the 2 liter sixes, producing 125 horsepower. Wikipedia has a pretty good write-up of the brand, and links. And you can order a new one, or peruse used ones at Bristol’s home page.

Paul Niedermeyer
Paul Niedermeyer

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  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Nov 29, 2009

    (Pre-takeover) If you said snobbery, I woulda said Rolls-Royce. Dedication and tradition? I would, and still will, say Bristol. Love the cars or hate them, I think one would have a hard time finding a more dedicated factory, or a more loyal group of owners. "We have no dealers or distributors" might be a little snooty, but hey, it's just sign that says we keep out the riff-raff. We actually have control over your experience, and we take pride in that. As to the Panamera killing Porsche, the 911 has been doing that since the late 70s.

  • Kristjan Ambroz Kristjan Ambroz on Nov 30, 2009

    I agree that the Panamera actually looks more, rather than less challenging live. The rear and side profiles are particularly ungainly and those rear lights are not really pretty no matter how you look at it. On the other hand it is the first Porsche since the 993, where the interior does not look to be on the cheaper side for the times, and is more in line with what the thing actually costs. According to Evo, you'll have more fun in a Cayenne GTS, which must be quite a damning statement but not having driven one, I guess I'll reserve judgement on that for now. I guess one of the few advantages of owning one, is that in some places like London, you will not automatically be mistaken for a chauffeur for driving one, like you would with the S class, 7 series, A8, LS, XJ, etc.

  • Scott What people want is the Jetson Car sound.This has come up before.
  • Joerg I just bought a Corolla Cross Hybrid SE a few weeks ago, and I regret it. But not for any of the reasons stated so far. It drives well enough for me, gas mileage is great for a car like that, the interior is fine, nothing to complain about for normal daily use. I bought this relatively small SUV thinking it is basically just a smaller version of the RAV4 (the RAV4 felt too big for me, drives like a tank, so I never really considered it). I also considered the AWD Prius, but storage capacity is just too small (my dog would not fit in the small and low cargo space).But there are a few things that I consider critical for me, and that I thought would be a given for any SUV (and therefore did not do my due diligence before the purchase): It can’t use snow chains per the manual, nor any other snow traction devices. Even with AWD, snow chains are sometimes required where I go, or just needed to get out of a stuck situation.The roof rack capacity is only a miniscule 75 lbs, so I can’t really load my roof top box with stuff for bigger trips.Ironically, the European version allows snow chains and roof rack capacity is 165 lbs. Same for the US Prius version. What was Toyota thinking?Lastly, I don’t like that there is no spare tire, but I knew that before the purchase. But it is ridiculous that this space is just filled up with a block of foam. At least it should be made available for additional storage. In hindsight, I should have bought a RAV4. The basic LE Hybrid version would have been just about 1k more.
  • MaintenanceCosts Looks like the best combination of capability, interior comfort, and subtle appearance can be achieved by taking a Laramie (crew cab, short bed, 4x4 of course) and equipping it with the Sport Appearance, Towing Technology, and Level 2 packages as well as a few standalone options. That's my pick.Rebel is too CRUSH THAT CAN BRO and Limited and up are too cowboy Cadillac.
  • Xidex easier to buy a mustang that already sounds like that. love the coyote growl
  • Oberkanone Shaker motor on an EV. No thanks.