If you’re a frequent reader of MC&T, you’ll know we primarily write about the exciting American cars, trucks and SUVs that cater to enthusiasts. While we certainly appreciate European sports cars, they just aren’t our focus. But when we heard UK-based Bristol Cars is making a comeback with a Hemi V8 under the hood, we got interested. The UK’s AutoCar first broke the news after a British investor revealed his plans to revive the company, which was officially liquidated at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. To understand their new plans, here’s some background on Bristol Cars.
Bristol Cars was born out of an airplane company that had success during WWI and WWII, and was officially formed in 1945. They produced vehicles as a subsidiary to the airplane company until they formally split off in 1961. Here, Bristol Cars formed a partnership with Chrysler to supply V8 engines. Their vehicles focused on big power from the American V8 paired with beautiful design, stunning craftsmanship and luxury.
But then, their key stakeholder was in a serious accident and sold most of the company to new ownership in 1970. The new owner, Anthony Crook, decided to move the company towards sports cars and ditched the 400-based naming structure to airplane names. They still used Chrysler Hemi V8 engines, but were more sporty than their GT predecessors.
This carried on until 2000, when Bristol Cars unveiled the entirely new Fighter sports car, powered by a Dodge Viper V10 with 525 or 625 hp. The top spec model, the Fighter T was turbocharged, and allegedly put out a whopping 1,012 hp in the early 2000s. Despite having impressive power, a body penned by an F1 designer and gullwing doors, Bristol only sold an estimated 14 Fighter sports cars. couldn’t save Bristol, and they officially went belly up in May 2020 after a few rebirth attempts.
This latest attempt is more promising, though. The new investor, Jason Wharton, wants to restart the company by restomodding the Bristol Fighter and 411. The plan is to “remaster” these cars in 2022 with a Dodge 392 6.4 liter Hemi V8 and modern suspension and chassis updates. They will also support existing models, as they currently have nowhere to go.
If this goes well, the reborn Bristol Cars plans to introduce a new model, called the Buccaneer. It will probably use that same Hemi V8 engine, and may use a donor car for much of its electronics and running gear.
The Brits have a long history with small volume enthusiast vehicles, and Bristol Cars is just the latest to have a rebirth. Hopefully everything goes to plan, because British style with American power is something we can always get behind.