1949 BRISTOL 400

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By Appointment

Northgate, QLD



Title 1949 BRISTOL 400
Sale Price $94,950
Listing Type Used
Stock Number 0771
RefCode TA1215154
Body TypeHardtop - Coupe
No. of Doors2
No. of Cylinders6cyl
Capacity - cc1971
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded
No. of Gears4
Drive TypeRWD
Odometer85,050 miles



Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a lovely 1949 Bristol 400.

There is documentation on file that states that this particular example was despatched on the 1st February 1950 to Messrs Commonwealth Motors Ltd in Melbourne. It also tells us the car is a factory right hand drive, matching numbers example which was delivered in its current colour of maroon. Two extra sun visors were fitted to the car as an option.

It is understood the car was initially used as a demonstrator by Claridge Motors of Unley, Adelaide. Around December 1951 the car was sold to its first owner. Sometime in the next 6 years the car was painted black. The car then passed through several owners but remained in South Australia. It is understood that around 1974 the car was repainted in its original maroon colour.

In July 1988 the car found its way to Bowral in NSW. In August 1993 the car was purchased by a Mr Lino Bertollo from Castle Hill, a suburb in the north west of Sydney in NSW. In 2001 the car was sold to Mr Heinz Haupt from Corawa, NSW. He later moved to Victoria and subsequently registered the car there. In his ownership the car was retrimmed in approximately 2002 prior to participating in the NSW South Coast Rally in 2003.

The car was sold in 2009 and then again in 2016, when it ended up with a well known collector in South Australia. He kept the car for almost 4 years before selling it to another well known collector, this time in Melbourne, Victoria. The current owner acquired the car by chance in November 2022.

Somewhere along the line the cylinder head on the car was replaced with a non-matching but correct cylinder head. Fortunately, a previous owner managed to purchase the original cylinder head at the 2016 Motorclassica auction and it remains with the car.

Today this fabulous Bristol 400 presents and drives really well. Its presentation and condition is a true testament to how the current and previous owners have looked after and maintained the car.

First impressions are good, really good! The car certainly has a real presence and the maroon colour suits it quite well. Generally, the paint is in a good condition but upon closer inspection you will see some stone chips and other imperfections. Most noticeable is a small scrape on the lower part of the left rear guard. There are also two small bubbles in the paint on the lower rear section of the passenger door and a very small one on the left lower panel. The brightwork on the car presents well and is in a good condition.

All the glass is in good condition with no cracks or scratches evident. The mechanism to open the rear window is in good working order as are the clamps to hold open the rear quarter windows.

The steel wheels are in reasonably good condition. There are some marks on them from either old balancing weights or perhaps just general wear and tear. The hubcaps are in good condition and feature the Bristol logo. The wheels are shod with Michelin X tyres size 5.50 R 16. They are date stamped 2711 (week 27, 2011) and whilst they are still in reasonably good condition, they should be replaced based on age.

Open the door and you are welcomed by a typical English interior. The first thing you will notice is the big yet delicate steering wheel and the long gear lever, quite typical for a car of this vintage. The timber dashboard is another feature. The whole interior suits the car very well and is exactly what you would expect in a car like this. The seats are comfortable and soft, yet they provide ample support . . . very much like your favourite lounge chair. The leather is in a good condition and there are no cracks or tears evident in either of the front seats. The rear seats appear to have hardly been used and are in very good condition. The carpets also present well and are in reasonably good condition. The roll down sun visors are rather unique!

All the instruments are clear and all appear to be in good working order. The car is also fitted with a period correct wireless of the type 4014VD. The serial number tag states Made in England specially for The Gramophone Co Ltd (Australian Branch) Sydney, NSW.

Under the bonnet you will find a clean engine bay and there is the original and complete toolkit as well as a foot pump which are both in excellent condition.

In the boot you will find the jack, the wheel brace, a bleeder drain tube for the hydraulic brakes, a set of original tyre levers and a crank handle. It is amazing to see that after seventy five years all these tools are still with the car and still in excellent condition.

When the car arrived at our show room we were rather excited and very keen to take it out for a test drive to see what it was like to drive. It is hard to believe this car is some seventy five years old! We were not disappointed . . . this car drives every bit as good as it looks!

There is a procedure one has to follow to start the car, particularly if it hasnt been started for a period of time. These cars do not have an electric fuel pump and as a result, if the car has not been used for a while you first have to manually prime the fuel pump. Once you have done that you get in the car, pull out the knob to activate the starting carburettor, turn the ignition on and press the starter button. This car fires up pretty much at first crank. You then use the hand throttle to keep the revs up and turn the starting carburettor off. After patiently allowing the engine some time to warm up, you are ready to hit the roads.

As noted above, when the car rolled off the truck the first impressions were good, really good. After a very short time behind the wheel the first impressions of the drive were also good, really good! The car was surprisingly firm on the road with no significant rattles or squeaks. The engine feels strong and it pulls strongly through the rev range. The gearbox is smooth and the gear changes are easy both up and down the box. This car is very easy to drive and you tend to forget it was born in the 1940s . . . quite incredible really! Even the brakes are quite adequate and pull the car up in a straight line.

With only around 500 ever made the Bristol 400 is quite a rare car and they do not often come up for sale. Here is a unique opportunity to acquire an Australian delivered, factory right hand drive example that is ready to use and enjoy. This is quintessential British motoring at its best. The Bristol 400 was so far ahead of its time it is not funny and today this car offers incredible value for money.

Accompanying the car is the original cylinder head, toolkit, jack, an original spare wheel, an original Bristol 2 Litre Type 400 instruction manual, an original spares handbook and a copy of a workshop manual for a type 85a engine and gearbox.


- Australian delivered, factory RHD, matching numbers example.
- Known ownership from new.
- Original toolkit, jack, and foot pump.
- Beautifully presented car that is just fabulous to drive.

Price $94,950.


The Bristol Car Company has a rich and fascinating history. Its origins date back to the Bristol Aeroplane Company (formerly The British and Colonial Aeroplane Company) that was founded in February 1910 by Sir George White, chairman of the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company, along with his son Stanley and his brother Samuel, to commercially exploit the fast-growing aviation sector. The Bristol Aeroplane Company developed into a British industrial powerhouse and they built some of the worlds most technologically advanced aeroplanes. Some of the most well-known and successful aircraft built by Bristol were the Bristol F2 Fighter (used during World War I), the Bristol Bulldog and the Bristol Beaufighter (used during World War II).

Following the First World War the British aircraft industry suffered a dramatic downturn and subsequently significant financial challenges. In an endeavour to keep its workforce employed the Bristol Aeroplane Company undertook the manufacture of a light car, the single seat Bristol Monocar which was powered by a motorcycle engine, the construction of car bodies for Armstrong Siddeley and bus bodies for their sister company, Bristol Tramways. The company survived, but times were tough.

Aircraft manufacturing ramped up again with the outbreak of the Second World War, however, management had learned that they must plan for the future. It is understood that discussions started as early as 1941 to establish a post war car manufacturing division. Bristol began working with AFN Ltd, makers of Frazer Nash cars and British importer of BMWs before the war, on plans for a joint venture in automotive manufacturing. What ultimately eventuated was that the Bristol Aeroplane Company took over AFN Ltd and established its car manufacturing division, Bristol Cars. A purpose built factory was constructed at Filton Aerodrome, near Bristol.

The first Bristol was designated the 400 and not surprisingly given the Frazer Nash and BMW connection it was based on a BMW 326 chassis with BMW 327 styling. The engine, whilst built by Bristol, was also based on a BMW 327. The first prototypes were built in late 1946, however, the car was formally introduced at the 1947 Geneva Motor Show.

The car was a great success for Bristol and almost 500 examples were built through until 1950. This included 17 Drophead Coupes with coachwork by Pininfarina.

In 1949 Bristol introduced successor to the 400, the 401, which was designed and bodied by Touring of Milan in Italy. The new model was aerodynamically sleeker and featured superleggera construction with an aluminium body over a steel frame.

As a result the car weighed significantly less and its performance was greatly enhanced. Bristol was gaining a reputation for building technologically advanced motor cars that were luxurious, very reliable and offered genuinely exciting performance on the road. Their cars were not cheap and as a result they remained somewhat exclusive. Buyers of new Bristols back in the day were typically wealthy businessman who wanted a car to stand out in a crowd. They also wanted a car they could drive and enjoy and many Bristols were used for hill climbs and weekend motor racing.

Bristol developed the 450 specifically for motor racing and it made its debut at the 1953 Le Mans 24 hour race. Two cars were entered in the race, however, they both retired with engine failures after about 10 hours. Bristol returned to Le Mans in 1954 and entered three cars, with uprated engines and improved aerodynamic bodywork. In contrast with the previous year all three cars finished the race, coming home in first, second and third place in their class and seventh, eighth and ninth overall. Their performance also earned Bristol the team prize. Bristol returned to Le Mans again in 1955 and again performed exceptionally well achieving the same results as in 1954. The race became famous for the wrong reason when a major accident resulted in debris flying into the crowd killing 83 people and injuring many more. Following this race a number of manufacturers, including Bristol, retired from motor racing indefinitely.

Subsequent road cars included the 403 (1953-1955, 287 cars built), which was a further development of its predecessors, the 404 (1953-1958, 52 cars built), the 405 (1953-1958, 308 cars built and the 406 (1958-1961, 174 cars built).

Bristol Cars was sold after its parent company joined with other British aircraft companies in 1960 to create the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC), which later became part of British Aerospace.