The Ultimate Living Dinosaur: Bristol Coupes Built On Same Platform Since 1947

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
the ultimate living dinosaur bristol coupes built on same platform since 1947

If TTAC were UK based, we’d probably have indulged in a Bristol Appreciation Week instead of Panthers. These remarkable coupes have been built on the same 114″ wheelbase chassis since the first Bristol 400 saw the light of day in 1947. Ok, I haven’t forgotten about Morgan. But the Morgan is a bit more self-conscious in its perpetuality. The Bristol’s styling has evolved a bit, although that seems to have ended in about, say 1978 or so? The NY Times has a nice article pointing out that Bristol sales are up, and never dropped in the current Great Recession. The very affluent who want a “bespoke” coupe hand built in traditional style seem to be able to manage the starting price of 142k pounds sterling. Oh, and there’s a real living breathing dinosaur under the hood too, and it’s American to boot.

Strictly speaking, the Bristol’s underpinnings are even older than 1947 (400 above). Bristol based their entry into the automotive world on pre-war BMWs. The frame came from the 326, and the 2 Litre six from the 328. And the grille gives that away, all too obviously. But fear not, Bristol paid a license to replicate the Bimmers.

But the current Bristol Blenheim can’t hide that obvious thirties configuration: super long hood with almost no front overhang, and rear wheels far forward, as well as a narrow track.

That long front fender hides what used to be carried in the open on classic cars: the spare. Now it’s only on one side; the other has access to the battery and fuse box. Leaves the trunk unencumbered, and with plenty of room for the golf clubs.

Needless to say, the interior is done in the most traditional of English style and taste, with only the finest appointments. And under that long hood: the old Chrysler 5.9 L/360 CID V8, which was replaced by the Hemi years ago hereabouts. Where Bristol gets them new is not disclosed. Maybe they bought a batch of the last ones to be made. At the small rate Bristol builds cars, they might last a while; decades even.

Here’s Robert Farago’s review of a “rebuilt” elderly Blenheim. But if you read it, make sure you also read the comments too, to get a more complete picture of the Blenheim.

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  • Mike C Mike C on Apr 02, 2012

    Had a 360 and 318 MOPAR truck and car engines in several cars in the 70sthey were similar but not the same. Truck motors had 4 bolt mians, forged cranks that were (in some cases) chemical hardened (a bath of cyanide salts) that incresed surface hardness for bearing life BUT reduced the detrimental effects on toughness and therefore logevity. THe truck 318 was aboused in a 3/4 ton pick up for 390K mile the 360 truck motor in a power wagen for over 450 k miles. Loved them The 318 car engine gutted itselfpassing a truck on the I 10 outside Cucamonga. THAT was exciting. I was doing 70 when the parts started to come through the hood. The 360 made it tio about 170K miles in a charger. then the flywheel disintigrated. The truck motors were far superior. The jensen used the 440 for most of thier life.

  • Bristol411SanFran Bristol411SanFran on Jan 11, 2013

    I have a Bristol 411 Series 3 for sale in San Francisco if anyone is interested. Contact me at

  • MrIcky Seems like a Mustang for Mustang fans to talk about with other Mustang fans. I just went to the Corvette configutor and built a 2LT Z51 for 79,540, a base 1LT is $65k. Both are arguably nicer, and certainly better performers than this. If a Mustang is going to play in that bracket it has to do something different to beef up the emotional appeal. The supercharger did that, the flat plane crank that revved to >8k (if they worked out the bugs) does that. A 'regular' Mustang V8 with some parts out of the Ford Catalogue doesn't seem to be worth the >60k range.
  • Kcflyer For anywhere over 60k I'm buying a C8 which will run rings around any mustang ever made. I'm a huge mustang fan but......sorry. Now show me a GT with the "good" manual discounted to 40 grand and we can talk.
  • Analoggrotto Somewhere out there a certain Obama couple is smiling.
  • EBFlex 80k is about $30k overpriced. But for some reason Ford thinks the garbage they produce is worth paying a premium for. And especially this thing. This reskinned Mustang is awful inside and out. There was a reason ford was hemorrhaging sales to the much older Challenger. The Mustang sucks. And this looks like it’s half Camaro. Yet another project done by the interns. But, at least it’s a real Mustang
  • EBFlex Ford historically gave their worst effort here in the states. Alan Mulally changed that, a bit, and gave us some world cars like the Kuga, Fiesta and Focus. But by the time they got here they were crap. Or we just would never get them at all.