22 October 2012
1981 Bristol Beaufighter Convertible - Just Plane Awesome
In 1980 Bristol abandoned its traditional numerical nomenclature with the launch of the Beaufighter, and succeeding models would likewise use names drawn from the company's not inconsiderable aircraft manufacturing heritage. A development of the 412, the Beaufighter used a turbo-charged version of the Chrysler V8 engine and while in Rolls-Royce fashion the power output remained officially undisclosed, it was nevertheless sufficient to propel the car to 150mph with a sub-6.0 second 0-60mph time to boot. Meanwhile, the 603 saloon had been revised as the Britannia, the turbo-charged version of which, launched in 1983, was dubbed Brigand. Although more modern in appearance, these 1980s Bristols were hand built with aluminium coachwork in the traditional manner, much as their forebears had been in the late 1940s. Their interiors fully justified the 'Gentleman's Express' sobriquet, featuring leather-upholstered armchair-like seats and acres of walnut embellishment. The use of the finest materials and the fact that each of these craftsman-built cars took between 16 and 20 weeks to complete explains the lofty price tag, which in the Beaufighter's case was approaching £40,000.
Personally speaking, I've always had a hankering for a Bristol so that I can justify looking like LJ Setright, legendary CAR magazine journalist, Bristol fanatic and all-round know-it-all. This slightly tatty but solid example went at Bonhams recently for just under £6k. Turbo Chrysler V8 power and Lancia Beta Spyder rear lights? Yes please.
How many VIN plates include directions to the HQ and a contact phone number? How frightfully British.