Your typical summertime British car show is always full of rubber-bumper MGBs and Triumph TR6s that had sat out in the sun too long. But British Car Day at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum is not your typical British car show. And every year it never fails to surprise, with rarities that you’d normally only be able to catch at a top tier national concours event. And last year, one of those rarities was this Bristol 403 saloon from 1955.
Bristol is not marque we see often in the US. Last year I had spoken to an owner of a Bristol 406 sedan, and he told me there were only about a couple dozen cars in the US and Canada. That’s of course not counting the Arnolt Bristol Bolide, which trade hands at major auctions pretty regularly. And of those Bristols in the US, very few are the later models from the 1970s and 80s. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that there is not a single Bristol Blenheim the US. Those Blenheims, however, are relatively plentiful compared to what we’re going to take a look at today, as only 275 examples of the Bristol 403 were made.
It’s no secret that the earliest Bristols to come out of the factory located in the town of the same name were cribbed from pre-war BMWs. The 403 seen here, for example, used the basic body design of the BMW 327 saloon, right down to the kidney grille. The engine was based on the BMW 328, though in the 403 the engine was detuned from the version that appeared in the earlier, and visually similar Bristol 400.
This particular 403 is one of the last four examples built, and actually incorporates some details which appeared on the later Bristol, as a transitional model of sorts. This car spent most of its life in Switzerland, and was brought to America relatively recently when it was purchased by the late collector Martin Swig. This 403 then passed into the hands of Keith F/ Carlson, himself a noted Jaguar collector, who took it to British Car Day last year. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this Bristol, still wearing its livery from the California Mille, pretty much stole the show last year.
This year’s British Car Day will take place on Sunday, June 23rd, at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum located in Brookline, Massachusetts, just a few minutes southwest of Boston.
Browse the full gallery from last year below:
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]