News : Bristol Bullet unveiled

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Bristol-Bullet-front

The Bristol Bullet is a new sports car which combines classic styling and high-tech gadgets, and could be yours for around £250,000 when it goes on sale next year. It’s powered by a 370bhp BMW V8, which harks back to the original BMW/Frazer-Nash/Bristol association that gave us the 401.

The Bullet is inspired by the classic Speedster, and should please Bristol aficiondos because it’s a reasonably respectful take on the classics, which date back to 1947. Whether former company owner Tony Crook would approve of the choice of engine, is another matter altogether. However, the new owners have certainly listened to the marque’s customers, with this interesting 21st century continuation model.

Hand-built in Chichester (sadly, not Filton), the traditional aluminium bodywork has been ditched in favour of stronger, lighter carbonfibre composites, ensuring that the kerb weight tips the scales at 1100kg. Maximum power is 370bhp and there’s 370lb ft of torque, which is hooked up to your choice of a six-speed manual or auto. It’s claimed to do 0-60mph in just 3.8 seconds and has a 155mph limited top speed.

Hybrids and range extenders are coming – we’ve already driven Frazer-Nash prototypes, which will give this car some additional excitement. ‘This unique speedster sets the tone for the future of Bristol Cars – with a focus on luxury, performance and elegance,’ says General Manager Julian Ramshaw.

bristol-bullet-roadster-003-1200x800

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

41 Comments

  1. My late father in law is pretty typical of “the marque’s customers” in that, while he used to buy Bristols (even new ones!), he’s not going to be buying any more and hadn’t done for many years anyway. As a matter of interest, his last conversation with Tony Crook was when he walked into their London showroom and Tony said “do you want to buy a car company?!”.

    Bristol had, for many years, been about making money supplying parts (often other manufacturer’s parts, but at 3 times the price of going direct) and reselling used cars to its dwindling band of customers who were still young enough to drive.

    With an existing customer base of virtually zero, who is going to spend £250,000 on a kit car from a forgotten manufacturer? Hardly anyone bought their last 2 seater, so what’s changed?

  2. I think the styling takes some getting used to, there are better looking kit cars and I have read some particularly cutting remarks on the tacked on driving/foglights. Again no consideration of numberplate mounting. The styling from above looks neat but who looks at it from that angle? It just looks unfinished – did they run out of money before developing a roof? Seeing how postwar Bristols were based on BMW input I wonder if BMW will do a Land Rover/Rolls Royce in initially flogging them engines and then taking the company over – proper Bristols would sit nicely alongside Rolls Royce. Does the spare wheel sit in the front wing?

  3. I presume that this is just a CAD rendering and that there will be many detail changes to the production model. However, I don’t think that they will sell many without proper weather protection.

    That said, Bristol are looking like a posh version of TVR….

  4. Many cars look much better when you see them on the road.

    This Bristol actually manages to look even worse.

  5. Sorry but that is awful. Too much like an ugly Cobra/MX5/god knows what else clone… What a shame…

  6. I’ve always liked Bristol cars,but honestly I can’t see the point of this. apart from the Bristol badge on it there’s nothing to continue the heritage of the marque. There’s no aluminium bodywork, the point of using the BMW V8 engine to give a connection to the early years of the company when built a copy of the German company’s straight six engine is stretching it a bit! You wouldn’t mind if it was a stunning looking car but it ain’t, the car looks like a motor show special based on the Peugeot 403 cabrio (of which Lt Columbo drove). The price is a joke as well £250k it makes the RR Dawn seem the good value please whoever owns the company please don’t tarnish the history of a great company with this.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Ian! I love the “classic” Bristols, especially the 407 – 411 series and the 603. The Blenheim already lost some of it’s elegance. This, methinks is a joke.

  7. ‘This unique speedster sets the tone for the future of Bristol Cars – with a focus on luxury, performance and elegance,’

    As it uses a large V8 engine I can spot the performance part of the quote. Luxury and elegance are in turn highly debatable and visibly absent.

    Even Setright would struggle to defend this dreadful thing.

  8. Ugly as! Did they look at Alfa’s Flying Disco Valantes of the 50s when they designed this – has similar styled flanks. Probably some mad sod with megabucks who wants an exclusive motor will buy it but if I had won he Euros on Friday I wouldn’t.

  9. I think I must be in the minority here, but I actually quite like its styling!

    In my eyes very few Bristols since the 405 have ever been elegant, handsome or even (sorry to sound slightly coarse) sexy in terms of looks. Styling is not a dominating factor in whether an existing Bristol customer will buy a new one or not. Instead what each Bristol has offered is a deep-seated sense of individuality and craftmanship using traditional skills in a non-time honoured fashion. Owners are even able to look past where some of the switchgear has been sourced from as a Bristol is more than just about the origin of its minor parts.

    Look at a current Aston Martin or Bentley and they now wreak of being “manufactured”, despite what the colours and trim and options lists might try to suggest otherwise. There is even a sense of BMW parts bin borrowing in the interior of the latest Morgan Aero 8 these days with some switchgear. Note: I am not in a position to own any of the products from these aforementioned manufacturers but I do look at them at car shows.

    Admittedly this latest Bristol is a very expensive and impractical form of self-indulgence, rather like owning a prized oil painting and paying to keep it in professional storage facilities. That said, I do admire it for maintaining that complete sense of eccentricity I always associate with Bristols and also for being completely out of touch with modern day motoring.

    Someone on here has suggested that perhaps BMW Group will ultimately buy into Bristol or take them over in the long term. Well they haven’t yet with Morgan, so there is no reason why they would with Bristol. I genuinely believe BMW Group would never truly understand what makes these two specialist British companies so special, and they probably would admit this themselves. BMW Group does very good business as a component supplier to these specialist companies (and others), so why take on the burden of trying to take on ownership of two cottage industries and at the same time be under the constant pressure from greedy shareholders to make their acquisitions more productive and delivering higher profits?

    Long may Bristol continue to do things their way, even if it is completely out of tune with most people’s ideologies.

    • Agree with all of that. Surprised by some of the rose-tinted criticism on here. Bristol’s have often been ungainly-looking – this car simply carries on their slightly oddball tradition. Shame it’s not built at Filton, though.

      • Spot-on both the above comments. This new Bullet is as ‘differently’ styled, (but not ugly IMO) slightly oddball and frankly over-priced as anyone should expect a Bristol to be.

        Providing the quality is top notch then they will probably get away with it – but will need to also offer a version with a full windscreen and well-engineered hood.

  10. They seem to have achieved something remarkable with the publicity shots, which is to make the car look like a scale model:

    <img src="http://netdna.coolthings.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/bristol-bullet-4.jpg&quot;

    in all seriousness that is not the sort of finish that people are going to spend £250k on.

    <img src="http://www.toplook.it/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Bristol-Bullet-00-265×180.jpg&quot;

    I don't think anyone expected them to come up with a state of art world beating sports tourer coupe (i.e. what Bristol would be producing in the parallel universe where it had kept pace with the competition since the 1960s rather than just producing the same car) but this actually appears to be a backwards step from the Speedster they did 14 years ago.

  11. When I first saw the car I became a a little disappointed by the looks, because I was expecting something a bit different, more modern.
    But now, I’m getting used to the car’s style. It really looks like a great combination of a modern car with the charm of the past cars, I really like it. And the interior looks great.
    Is great to see small British car companies launching new products that can keep up with their tradition, like in the old times.

  12. Isn’t this car influenced by an old car they had knocking around in the workshops which also influenced the Blenheim Speedster? I quite like it as a Bristol fan, and the full coupe version will be more of a continental cruiser, but I just feel that they are punching well above their weight charging £250k.

  13. I’m surprised they haven’t offered an American V8, which is how Bristols were powered from the sixties onwards, although early cars had links to BMW. Yet can’t wait to see the coupe version, which is what a Bristol traditionally should be, a four seater grand tourer intended to take four people and their luggage on long journeys at high speed.
    Bristol in the Tony Crook era always struck me as an eccentricity only Britain could create. His cars were hand built to order, the company operated out of one anonymous showroom in Kensington, where Crook was salesman and managing director, and even if you could afford one of his cars, he would refuse to sell you one if he disliked the look of you. Hardly Evans Falshaw, but a unique car brand sold by a unique man.

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head Glenn it should be an American V8 preferably a Chrysler unit such as the one in the Hellcat but if not that GM’s LT1 would be a suitable choice. Really the more I look at this car it could wear the badge of AC,Allard ,Alvis or any long defunct UK marque rather than Bristol.

  14. I did get the impression a lot of the older Bristols were owned by repeat buyers, so it became a kind of clique to own one.

  15. @ Richard 16378, you had to win Mr Crook’s approval before buying one and understand that you were buying a very unique and in some ways old fashioned car. Yet it has to be said those who bought them were rich enough to buy a Rolls Royce, but wanted something that was a lot rarer, nearly as expensive and as durable, but which was more fun to drive and something most motorists wouldn’t know about.

  16. The last one my father in law bought was a 603, equipped with a 6.7 litre, police spec, Chrysler engine. One of the last times I saw it, the bonnet was up, the air filter was off and the engine was running. The induction roar from the two, open mouthed, twin choke carbs drowned out the engine noise!

    His favourite story was when towing a large caravan on a steep uphill section of dual carriageway. He was in the right hand lane, overtaking some slow moving lorries, when a police car came up behind with blues and two’s. He floored it and pulled in as soon as he’d cleared the convoy. Apparently, the two police in the Rover were both looking over to him to see what the heck had been pulling the caravan.

    Roger (being a serial buyer) knew both Bristol and Tony Crook well, but was not that complimentary about either. He explained how the company was originally set up to hand build the pre war BMW car to give the aircraft factory something to build and sell at the end of the war. Virtually everything was made in house, even the shocks!

    It was only realised later how cheaply these bits could be bought it; apart from those distinctive aluminium bodies, the cars became ultra expensive kit cars and ultimately, really weren’t that good.

    In the latter days, the original company was most interested in selling other manufacturer’s parts at substantial mark ups. One of the items Roger priced from him was a new windscreen. It turns out that the screen was manufactured for Jaguar and the front of the Bristol had been designed to accept the same unit. The price from Bristol was three times the RRP of the Jaguar item….

    • I should imagine that he car was a good deal lighter when he pulled in, the Hemi having consumed a large part of the contents of the tank.

      Superb cars in their own way but left behind by both the modern automotive and aircraft industries.

  17. @ John, it’s like being back in 1966 with fuel economy like that. Even very wealthy buyers of cars expect at least double that and such heavy fuel consumption will mean a visit to the petrol pumps every 180 miles to fill up, assuming the car has a 20+gallon tank like most of the cars in this class. It would mean if you were driving from Edinburgh to London, filling the Bullet twice.
    Much as this car is interesting in a way, such an impractical and fuel guzzling car is an anachronism.

  18. To be honest, Bristols have always been a very acquired taste and the Bullet continues the tradition, a car hardly anyone can afford, completely impractical and very expensive to own with fuel consumption like a Daimler Limousine. However, fair play to whoever has revived the Bristol name, as Tony Crook would be pleased such a car is coming into production. Also I wonder if the speed limiter was removed, how fast the Bullet could really go( I’m guessing 180 mph).
    Been reading up more about Crook’s eccentric car company, where once he put the blinds down when he saw Michael Winner walk past, chased someone from his showroom as they were in jeans and despised the media, particularly motoring magazines. Indeed the cars were as eccentric as Crook, using very old school American V8s, were hand built and cobbled together from a variety of parts that included rear lights from Vauxhall and some incredibly cheap looking interior components including an aftermarket stereo that would be more at home in a Ford Focus. Yet the tiny band of enthusiasts kept coming back for more and kept Bristol alive for decades.

  19. @ John, I was trying to work out which Vauxhall they came from. Don’t forget Aston Martin used rear lights from Hillman Hunters, so using parts from cheaper cars wasn’t only a Bristol thing. Yet the Hillman lights didn’t look as ungainly as those used on Bristols.
    I suppose, though, Bristol enthusiasts weren’t bothered about minor details like rear lights and after market stereos, when they had such an exclusive car that was built to order.

      • S1 Esprit used Fiat X1/9. SD1 cluster was also used on the Excel. Aston also used rear lights from the Mk2 Sirocco, and TVR used Cavalier ones for the Griffith. The list goes on and on if you go through the low volume makes and look at the switchgear, doorhandles (Esprit used Allegro items, Lamborghini Espada indicator stalk was from the mini). Makes sense when you think of the costs involved to design, type approve and manufacture such stuff.

        • Didn’t Noble use some Mk1 Mondeo parts?

          I was surprised at a recent Auto Express review of some new Lotus, though: its stalks look a lot like Astra Mk4 items.

          Did any late-era Rover items appear on anything else?

  20. The more I read about Bristol and Tony Crook, the more I feel an affinity for this car company that was more secretive than North Korea. The Bullet is merely the latest in a long line of uber expensive, totally insane cars, but sadly without Tony Crook in charge. Remember in the Crook era, it was almost impossible to gain a test drive, very difficult to buy one unless he liked the look of you, the cars styling rarely changed in decades and used the sort of American V8s that died out in the energy crisis, and also very hard to buy one used as owners seemed to hang on to them for years and Crook controlled the used market. When I read that someone wanted a car converted into a convertible, and was quoted £ 130,000 by Bristol for work which took nine months to complete, I can believe it.

  21. Well, although Tony Crook was indeed eccentric, many of the stories have gained in the telling ! Tony Crook did not really control the used market for Bristols : for many years there was a man called R F Fuggle who used to sell them in Hertfordshire , and at one point I nearly bought a 603 from him , although rather to my regret I was talked out of it by a colleague who thought that say 11 mpg and my 50,000 miles a year did not mix !

  22. RF Fuggle, only someone selling used Bristols could have such a name. The whole company is one of eccentricity and mystery and it probably survived on its tiny and loyal fanbase, which included Richard Branson, who had a lot of money to spend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


WordPress spam blocked by CleanTalk.