Bristol – 404 (1953)
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- Nicholas Gatehouse (PT)
Class CCelebrating 150 Seasons at Villa d’Este: How grand Entrances were once made
The niche automaker owned by the renowned British aircraft manufacturer Bristol complemented its bigger stablemate 403 with a sports model in 1953. The new sports car was given the designation 404 and planned as an illustrious coupé. Once again, Bristol did not shy away from relying on maximum vertical integration in manufacture. This example bears excellent witness to the considerations underpinning this model. It is the prototype, as research by its current owner revealed when he purchased the coupé in 2020.
Until 1962, this Bristol 404 had been in the ownership of Sir George White, the Chairman of Bristol. The one-off’s aeronautically inspired front end clearly borrows features from the biggest aeroplane model that Bristol was developing at the time – the Brabazon Airliner. Its distinctive tail fin also provides evidence of aerodynamic finesse. The car put in a long period of service as a storied test mule for evaluating new engines and technologies. After decades of retirement, this first Bristol 404 is now returning to the international stage to flaunt its authentic attributes at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.