On View Now! New 2003 Bristol 'Blenheim Speedster'

Bristol Blenheim Speedster

 

Most car manufacturers build and test secret prototypes that never reach the production stage. When each project ends they are scrapped which ensures they remain a secret indefinitely.

A rare exception occurred when a senior member of staff at Bristol’s Filton factory suggested we take a look at an abandoned car in a back room. Layers of dust and blankets hid an extraordinary streamlined 2-seater with prominent aerodynamic fins. Believed to have originated as a proposed replacement for the early 1950s Arnolt-Bristol with a Bristol 2-litre engine it was later tested with a Chrysler V-8 with an experimental fuel injection system. It appears that Bristol hit on much the same formula as the later AC Cobra but considered it too "raw" for their gentleman clientele and instead concentrated on introducing the fast, yet dignified V-8 407 saloon series which created the foundation for a whole new generation of Bristols.

The prototype 2-seater survived as a mobile Factory testbed for rebuilt engines and transmissions until being parked up some time in the ’70s and forgotten. In the late 1990s it was fully restored by Bristol personnel who revealed it was originally known as "The Bullet", on account of its generous performance. The car has since delighted all who have driven it due to its combination of rousing performance, exotic appearance, balanced handling and surprising creature comforts.

With the arrival of the Queen’s Jubilee year and a general nostalgia for the 1950s, the factory decided to create an updated interpretation using modern Blenheim components just for the fun of it. The resulting vehicle surpassed all our expectations. We have therefore agreed to build a short run of 12-15 cars to be known as the Blenheim Speedster using the modern Blenheim chassis and drivetrain. Styling is a subtly enhanced version of the original while the interior is all new and conforms to usual sumptuous Bristol standards. The speedster benefits from weighing some 350 kg less than a Bristol Saloon and has a special 30 gallon fuel tank with twin race type fillers. This gives an Intercontinental range to complement its huge and impeccably trimmed luggage boot (just the thing for a weekend trip to Italy!). Performance is fully contemporary with 0-60 mph in around 5 secs and a top speed approaching 160 mph.

continues... | Part Two
Published 5 January 2003 Melanie Carter

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