1957 ARNOLT-BRISTOL DELUXE TWO-SEAT ROADSTER
COACHWORK BY BERTONE
Chassis No. 404 X 3076
Engine No. BS 1 Mk II, originally 279, now 225
Blood orange with black vinyl 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 available, a pretty 'fastback' two seater coupe, a deluxe roadster intended for road use as offered for sale and the Bolide. The latter was 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. The Deluxe we offer for sale was for many years thought to have fallen foul of the Chicago fire which claimed a number of the cars, until it surfaced in the late 1970s. By 1979, it was acquired by Mike Kendrick and shortly after this passed to Charles Borie, of Florida. Mr Borie undertook a restoration of the Arnolt Bristol, which is documented by the club as having been completed by winter 1985. During the restoration the car was fitted with a correct Mk II engine, number 225, which according to the 1980s register of Arnolt-Bristols originated in chassis 3026, a car that been wrecked early in its life. It was purchased by the current owner in 1995, leaving the US shores and returns a decade later for sale.
Cosmetically the car presents well, its exterior and interior are both as restored in the 1980s, but have seemingly seen modest use since. The dash is equipped with Smiths oil, ammeter and fuel gauge cluster, as well as odometer, RPM gauge and clock. The interior is also fitted with a wood rim steering wheel and Enots and Bristol foot pedals. Still retaining the original Bertone badges, and distinctive detail features, this represents a tidy example of this attractive model.
The car comes with an original instruction manual, spares handbook, issues of the Arnolt-Bristol Registry and old correspondence with the club.
Echoing the lines of the Aston Martin DB3S, these sporting Bristol cars are regularly seen on road or track and offer an entry level classic for a multitude of events.