By on September 13, 2019

Today’s Rare Ride is the very first Bristol featured in this series. Hand-crafted in a shed somewhere in England, Bristol maintained exclusivity via an owner who only sold cars to people he liked.

Presenting the aerodynamic Beaufort cabriolet, from 1984.

The Beaufort was a variation of the 412, the first modern car available from Bristol. For the decade prior to the introduction of the 412, Bristol produced just one car: the 411. Serving as the brand’s entire lineup, the 411 was produced in minuscule numbers; just 287 were created between 1969 and 1976.

A single year of product overlap occurred during the 411’s phase-out, with the 412 entering production in 1975. The rakish targa body of the 412 was built by Zagato in Italy, then shipped to Filton, England for completion. The 412 spawned a sibling, the 603, in 1967. More true to Bristol’s conservative heritage, the 603 was a two-door sedan and was certainly not built by Zagato.

Bristol lightly revised the 412 for 1982, re-releasing it as the Beaufighter. Though Zagato was still credited with the design, the body was now built in-house at Bristol. Accompanying the new model was a change in engine (rare at Bristol), with a 5.9-liter Chrysler V8 taking the place of the old 6.2-liter. A turbocharger was also fitted, which meant the 1961 version of Chrysler’s TorqueFlite automatic needed reinforcement. It received a new prop shaft and torque converter pulled from the TorqueFlite attached to Chrysler’s 440 V8.

The final development of the 412 — the Beaufort — was introduced shortly after the Beaufighter, aimed at buyers in export markets only (left-hand drive). No longer restrained by a targa arrangement, Beaufort was a true convertible. Additional engineering went into reinforcement of the windshield for structural rigidity. And given it was sold outside the British Isles, Bristol fitted a larger 36-gallon fuel tank. The huge tank allowed for a cruising rage of 500 miles, great for those cross-continental weekend jaunts. Production figures never materialized, but high cost and low-speed production made the Beaufort a permanent rarity. It ended production in 1994, as Bristol switched all its attention to the new version of the 603, called Blenheim.

Today’s Rare Ride is for sale in Wiltshire, which is a green place in England. With 30,000 miles and an interior straight out of 1962, it asks $166,000.

[Images: seller]

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15 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Bristol Beaufort – Timeless Beauty From 1984...”

  • avatar

    That space between the hood and headlights is odd. But I still like it in a funky British way.

    And there is something about British cars – especially the 1960s stuff – that I love. Some beautiful autos cursed by the hand of Lucas, the dark lord.

  • avatar


    Ah, I see what you did there.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Yes, Bristol Cars was originally a post-war spinoff of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. So using the names of their aircraft (aerocraft) is somewhat logical. Except that their aircraft were generally ‘ugly’ and sometimes underpowered.

      Where is the spare tire located on this model? A key question regarding Bristols.

      Otherwise quite a lovely looking vehicle. Something that you could surely show off at the country club.

  • avatar

    The one good thing about Bristols is the width, much better than most luxury cars for narrow British roads.

    Other than that… nope

  • avatar

    IIRC, this car has twin spare tires mounted in the front fenders between the wheel openings and the doors. That alone would make it more desirable than anything with run-flats.

    I’ve always been partial to the Arnolt-Bristols, but the engines require much specialist fettling.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Corey, according to this linked listing there are only 2 VW Type IV’s still registered in the entire UK. Would love to have you dedicate some more time/articles to the different ‘rare’ VW variants.

  • avatar

    Bristol, the favorite car of the late, yet immortal, LJK Setright.

  • avatar

    The first TTAC article I read was Farago’s Bristol Blenheim review from 2005. It’s still really funny.

  • avatar

    Did the dog (visible in the second photograph) claim this monstrosity with a short burst of yellow liquid?

  • avatar

    When I read about the Chrysler V8 and turbo, I couldn’t stop thinking about what a turbo Dodge Diplomat would have been like as a pursuit vehicle.

  • avatar

    A mishappened bodge that was/is incredibly expensive. It was the Bristol Fighter that killed the company, but the silver lining is that this sort of miscreant won’t see the light of day again.

  • avatar

    At no time was this ever a beauty.

  • avatar

    Pet peeve of mine with verts is when the rear windows are up when the top is down. See it all the time across all makes and all models. Especially vexing when it’s done while getting it’s portrait taken. End Rant

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