1954 ARNOLT-BRISTOL BOLIDE COMPETITION TWO-SEAT ROADSTER
COACHWORK BY BERTONE
Chassis No. 404X3011
Engine No. BS1 MKII 211
Red with beige interior
Engine: six-cylinders in-line, 1,971cc, (BS1 Mk II) 130bhp at 5,500rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual with synchromesh on upper ratios; Suspension: independent front by wishbones and transverse leaf spring, torsion bars to live rear axle; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
After a long and distinguished history as an aircraft builder, the Bristol company in 1946 diversified into the specialist car market with its own version of the 1930's BMW 327. Bristol brought aircraft industry standards of workmanship and quality to their task and the 400 series of fast touring saloons and open cars, though expensive for a car of under two litres, quickly established itself as a tireless and luxurious high-speed tourer. In the competition world, there was a whole string of successes, notably in 1949 in the Italian open road Mille Miglia 1,000-mile race with a standard production model. The company built special sports-racers for the GP d'Endurance at Le Mans and the powerplant was much in demand for Formula II racing, where Mike Hawthorn burst into prominence in 1952 with a Cooper-Bristol. It was inevitable that there should be a production Grand Touring car and the short-wheelbase 404 aerodynamic coupe duly arrived, with a choice of 105 or 125bhp engines.
In the early 1950's, the enterprising Carrozzeria Bertone had a fertile relationship with Sidney Harold "Wacky" Arnolt II, Chicago-based importer of MGs into America's mid-west. After a couple of hundred elegant Bertone-bodied MG T-types had been shipped to the USA, the partners looked around for another project and a Bristol 404 chassis found its way down to Italy, there to be fitted with a stunningly handsome open spyder body first publicly shown at the London Motor Show in the fall of 1953. Three versions were offered, a pretty 'fastback' two seater coupe, a deluxe roadster intended for road use and the Bolide. Intended purely as a competition model, the Bolide was given a specially-tuned 130bhp BS MK II engine. It was campaigned extensively and with considerable success by Arnolt's racing team in the USA. Arnolt himself won the two litre class at Watkins Glen and in the famous Sebring (Florida) 12 hour races of 1955 and 1956 they also won their class. Racing success continued into the 1960s. Eventually some 129 Arnolt-Bristols were produced. Only three were coupes, the remainder being the two open versions. Around 60 are known to have survived.
This particular Arnolt Bristol joined the Lassiter Collection in 1990 and came from another enthusiast in Texas. It was very much an unrestored, yet sound example, finished in blue livery. Bill Lassiter had the car fully restored by a firm based in Pompano Beach, Fl. The work appears to have been carried out to an extremly high standard, resulting in the stunning appearance seen today. The only fault we noted upon very close inspection was some minor paint reaction on the hood.
This fine example comes with a copy of the spares handbook and instruction manual as well as a copy of The Bristol 2-Litre Sports engines manual. There is also a copy of the Arnolt Bristol Registry, 1985 edition. With their attractive styling and well proven sporting heritage, the Arnolt Bristol provides a reasonably priced vehicle highly suitable for many historic road/race events. These engines are also very docile when not driven in the upper regions of the rev range and an Arnolt Bristol is equally suitable for fun fair weather motoring.