Before it was officially wound up early in 2020, Bristol Cars had been manufacturing hand-built luxury sports cars since 1945. It effectively revealed its final model, the £250,000 Bullet Speedster, in 2016. 

    The nameplate was born out of Bristol’s early involvement in the manufacture of military aircraft – the Bullet was a WW1 biplane fighter. Later, in 1966, it would be revived for the low-volume 405-based Speedster.     

    The company intended to build a run of just 70 of the V8-powered roadsters before announcing a range of high-tech range extender models built on a brand new electric drive platform. Sadly, none of this stuff ever got off the ground. 

    There were some interesting cars along the way, like the 1975 Bristol 412 (a nod to the WW2 fighter/bomber the company produced), not dissimilar to the De Tomaso Longchamp of the same era. 

    The 412 was a Targa-style Zagato-designed convertible, powered by a 6.3-litre Chrysler V8 until 1977, when it moved to a more powerful 5.9-litre version. 

    It was also the first production car to boast a frameless window that dropped 12mm when the door was opened. And, continuing its reputation for innovation, the 412 was also the first production car to offer a factory option of dual-fuel petrol/LPG. 

    In 1980 the carmaker introduced the Beaufighter, a turbocharged take on the 412. It was the fastest four-seater production car at the time, with a top speed of 241km/h.

    The company turned the wick up in 2004 with its Bristol Fighter, a 338km/h two-seat sports car featuring gullwing doors and a modified Viper 8.0-litre V10 under the bonnet. It could accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in just 4.2 seconds, with a design said to be influenced by aircraft, missiles, and submarines given its advanced aerodynamics. 

    This incredible gallery from the Bristol factory shows a number of prototypes and vehicles used for engineering inspiration. It looks like the entire workforce simply walked out one day and never came back to clean up.

    Let us know in the comments below if you spot anything familiar. Thanks to Exploring with Amy for shooting these great pictures.

    Anthony Crawford
    Anthony Crawford is a Senior Road Tester at CarExpert.
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