1949 Bristol 401 Farina Cabriolet

On July 27th 1948 A.F.N Limited, Bristol main dealer and one of the Bristol Car Company’s founding shareholders, dispatched Chassis Number 401/208 by sea to the Pinin-Farina coach-building facility in Turin, Italy. The completed car was fitted with Alfin brake drums, close-ratio gearbox, and a remote gear change and returned in time for purchase in March 1949 by its first owner, Robert Lee Esq. of London.

The record of ownership is unbroken and well-recorded, compiled from the files of the Bristol Owners Club and a detailed history file, showing a life spent between England, Holland, France and Belgium, with rally participation as far afield as South Africa and Norway with the Bristol Owners Club.

Enthusiast ownership has ensured that the car has always been fully-maintained, including a major overhaul performed in 1992 by Prowess Racing Ltd. More recently in 2019 Bristol engine specialist Steve Stanton Motorsports carried out an extensive rebuild of the engine and gearbox, which included careful polishing of the cylinder head and fitting a ‘Fast Road’ camshaft.

The resulting dynamometer test showing an increase in BHP from the standard 80 to 118 (the equivalent of a 100D specification engine). Importantly, from a driving perspective, the torque was substantially increased with much more progressive torque curve. Given its improved capabilities a new overdrive unit was also fitted enabling effortless cruising at high speeds in fourth gear.

Despite the body and paint being remarkably good given that the car was 69 years old in 2018, it was decided to strip the body to bare aluminium for repainting. This process is carefully documented in the history file. What was most evident when stripping the car was that it had never suffered any accident damage, with the detailed metal and hammer work of Farina’s original artisans still evident throughout the entire body.

Presented with three folders of history, images, ownership documentation as well as past and present maintenance records.

Arguably the most stylish of all the Bristol’s built, the 401 Farina not only features the pinnacle of motoring technology of its era but also the finest Italian coachwork available. Offered here is a rare opportunity to acquire one of the surviving examples and an ideal candidate for high profile concours events and road tours alike.

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Year: 1949
Make: Bristol
Model: 401
Dealer: Pendine
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