No, look closer… In particular, may I draw your attention to the engine bay, the tyres, wider suspension track and the quartet of exhaust pipes – for there is a lot more going on here than when this Bristol 401 originally rolled out of Filton in 1952.
This is Brabazon Motors’ latest project, dubbed Project 04/07, it’s a toe-in-the-water exercise to see if there is mileage in the company offering a machine that is really very different from the market’s current offerings.
If Bristol motor cars attracted purists, which thankfully they do not, then they would doubtless screech in pained protest at the sight of a 401 powered by a 300bhp 6.5-litre Chrysler V8 ‘400’. However, aside from making people like us chuckle, there is rather a lot of sense in such an engine transplant.
The original and excellent Bristol ‘six’ – in all its guises (broadly speaking the Type 85, 100 and 110) – is getting rather thin on the ground these days, making the unit highly sought after. Indeed, it was but a few years ago that a Bristol Type 100D2 – a spicily tuned variant as fitted to the AC Ace-Bristol – with gearbox, came up for sale at £25,000. Consequently, there are quite a few engine-less Bristols knocking around filled with nothing but hope.
Given ‘the Cars’ careful and considered evolution of the A-frame chassis (one-time BMW via Dixi/Austin Seven) throughout the firm’s existence, it is consequently comparatively easy to fit later V8 drivetrain and suspension to the earlier pre-406 types.
As befits such an exploratory skunkworks project, the only real expense incurred will be labour, as works manager Jeff Marsh taps into the company’s rich seam of assorted go-faster goodies and spares in their stores.
The plan is to get the 04/07 up and running and on the road as quickly as possible. Coping with the V8’s significant wallop will be the tried and trusted Chrysler Torqueflite, its three speeds being more than enough given the mighty wall of torque which will be summoned each time the driver ‘comes on the Gas’. The windows will initially be Perspex, the wheels were just lying around, the exterior alloy possibly polished and the interior will remain stripped out – save for a couple of seats – to create what might possibly be Eastville’s first native hot-rod.
All of which makes me slightly nervous, because this is where Dep-O comes in. When Brabazon’s Oliver Smith contacted us, he told us that Jeff wanted to know if I’d be interested in helping out with the test-drive process. Yes, after years of pontificating, cogitating and telling manufacturers what their cars are like to drive, I’m going to be on the other side of the fence. I say ‘slightly nervous’, because the other 95% of me is as excited as a hyperactive kid locked in a toy shop. Just listen to it, and you’ll understand the lip-smacking prospect of taking to the wheel of this V8-powered slippery Superleggera projectile.
So expect regularly updates on the progress of Project 04/07 and in the meantime this is ‘Chuck’ Charlesworth signing off…
See our latest video of the 401 in motion by clicking here.