Bristol 401 Tyres

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Bristol 401 1948–1953

Bristol 401

Bristol 401

  • The Bristol 401 originally fitted 600 - 16 crossply tyres, in this size we would suggest the 6.00-16 PIRELLI STELLA BIANCA to be the best.
  • Modern roads have so many dual carriageways and motorways, and we find ourselves cruising at higher speeds for longer periods of time than were possible when the Bristol 401 was built.
  • Radial Tyres are a good solution to this problem, something many classic car owners choose. Fitting a period radial will not spoil the handling.
  • Longstone Classic Tyres would suggest fitting the 185 VR 16 PIRELLI CINTURATO CA67, it boasts a period tread pattern that will really suit the Bristol 401.
  • The ideal innertube for these tyres is the Michelin 16F innertube.
  • For an unbiased view of the 16" tyres available, please click here for an article which appeared in the Maserati Club magazine.

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    Bristol 401 Recommended Tyres

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History of the Bristol 401

The Bristol 401 saloon is a British luxury sporting car manufactured by Bristol Cars between 1948 and 1953. The 401 and 402 were also fairly unique from the front, with their headlamps relocated into the body on either side of the narrow grille, which resembled BMW a bit less than the 400. They were also strongly curved in the front, which, along with the then-unusual door handle configuration, is said to have given the 401 a drag coefficient of less than Cd 0.36, which is competitive even by today's standards and exceptional for the time.

The engine was the same 2-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol unit used in the 400, but it was modified with new Solex carburettors to enhance output by 5 bhp to 85 horsepower, which improved performance beyond what the aerodynamics were providing. The suspension is independent in the front, with a transverse leaf spring and wishbones, and stiff in the back, with torsion bars. Rack and pinion steering is used. Lockheed hydraulic brakes with 11-inch drums all around.

Bristol History

Bristol 404
Bristol is now celebrating over half a century of production under private ownership, but the company's roots go further back than 50 years. Originally manufacturing trams in the 19th century before going on to become the Bristol Aeroplane Company established in 1910 to serve the British aviation market. Bristol served well during the two world wars. In the second, Bristol produced over 14,000 aircraft including the Blenheim Fighter Bomber.
    Bristol Britannia 404

After the war in 1945 under the leadership of Sir George White, the company decided to use up surplus engineering and production capacity by small scale manufacturing of high-performance sports cars. The first of the Bristol cars was the 400. The 400 along with other fledgling cars got some of their styling from pre-war BMWs. These cars were built in 1946 and quickly gained an enviable reputation.

Bristol 401
The cars ran on pre-war 2-litre engines that were heavily developed and eventually built by the engine division of the aeroplane company. To this day Bristol cars are hand-built to an extremely high standard that is hard to beat. The 401 and 402 drophead shortly followed. Entering the 50's Bristol brought with it the 403 and 404, the former being a more powerful variant of the 401 whilst the latter was a short wheelbase, fixed head coupe.
    Bristol Britannia 401

The Bristol 404 was the first British designed car to fit the radical Michelin X radial tyre in early 1954, once more marking the company out as a setter of trends. Also in 1954 a 405 that was based on the 404 was produced only with 4 doors and a longer wheelbase.

Bristol Britannia
The shape that took them through to the late 1970s (in various guises) was the 406. Bristol kept the same shape but subtle styling changes and face-lifts helped keep the shape modern. At one point the company dropped an adaptation of Chryslers V8 power plant into the car. All of these modifications amalgamated into the 411 that was produced in 1969 and stayed in production through to 1975.
    Bristol Britannia 404

By 1960 due to political pressure the aviation division of the company was forced to merge with other aviation companies to form the British aircraft corporation. It was in the same year that to ensure its identity and autonomy Bristol Cars Ltd was acquired by former racing driver Tony Crook and the grandson of founder Sir George White, only 3 years later Tony Crook became sole owner and director of the company.

By the end of the '70s Bristol had new styling to reflect the period and this car was the 603 saloon, and in the 1980's a turbocharged Beaufighter (a name that came from the aviation days of the company in WWII). By the mid 80's Bristol dropped the numbers in favour of names of the past, for example, Britannia, Brigand and the Blenheim.

Although production numbers are less than 9,000 Bristol have competed with their cars under public scrutiny at places such as Le Mans in 1953/54/and 55 to mention just one. The company is still based in Filton and a model of any vintage can still be taken to the company for complete restoration and can supply their customers with any parts required right back to the company's earliest cars.

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