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Bristol Company History

Published: 19th Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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It is almost a century since the Bristol Aeroplane Company started to produce aircraft (from1910), and the firm’s machines played vital roles in both the First and Second World Wars. During the 1939-45 War, the company produced over 14,000 aeroplanes, including the Beaufighter, Blenheim and Fighter (all names which have been used again in recent years for Bristol car models). The car division of the firm was started in 1945, when the cessation of hostilities resulted in spare production capacity. The first models owed much to pre-War BMW designs (due to a link in the 1930s between H.J. Aldington, who built Fraser Nash cars, and BMW). It had been agreed that the Bristol company would produce the new models as Fraser Nash- Bristols. The new model was unveiled to the Press in 1946 as a Fraser Nash-Bristol, but by the time of its public announcement in 1947, had been renamed Bristol 400 (the Fraser Nash name reverting to Aldington). Engineering excellence, aerodynamic efficiency and dynamic performance were hallmarks of the Bristol 400 and subsequent models. In the early 1950s, a Bertone-bodied version of the 404 was sold in the United States by S. H. Arnholt, under the ‘Arnholt-Bristol’ name. The car division and the aircraft side of operationswent their separate ways in 1960 (the Bristol Aircraft company was taken under the wing of the British Aircraft Corporation). However, Bristol Cars Ltd. continued to apply aspects of aeroplane engineering to its vehicles, under Sir George White and Anthony Crook - formerly a Grand Prix driver - who became a director of the company in 1960. Bristol cars have evolved as outlined in our separate model-specific sections, and the firm still builds exclusive, British-built vehicles to suit the requirements of individual customers. The company’s quiet quest for sophistication, innovation, high performance, impeccable engineering and exclusivity is continuing unabated into the 21st Century. ‘Nicely understated, never over-rated’ is the company’s motto - and how appropriate it still is!

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