Friday, 11 December 2009

Bristol Owners’ Club Christmas Lunch

Neil was going to wash me on Sunday before we left for the Bristol Owners’ Club Christmas lunch near Bury St. Edmunds. However, as it was still raining he decided against this using the excuse that I would only get dirty again. By the time we got there it had stopped raining and the sun was out. We parked up next to a 404 in front of the hotel and Neil quickly disappeared inside.

Neil had told me this was going to be Nick Challacombe’s last official event as Regional Secretary but when Neil eventually came out I was surprised to learn that he had become the new Secretary. Not as surprised as Neil apparently who had been asked and had accepted before he had a chance to get to the bar.

By all accounts everyone inside enjoyed the lunch and I was happy to be in the company of 5 other Bristols in front of the Hall; a 404, a 407, another 410 and 2 603s.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Fighter T vs. Veyron

Sunday 1 November was the date of the Bristol Owners’ Club Heritage Trust Lecture. This was held at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire, and was presented by Toby Silverton, the Chairman of Bristol Cars.

The subject of Toby’s lecture was the development of the Fighter – Bristol’s 8 litre, V10 supercar. Launched in 2003, the Fighter was entirely developed from scratch to meet the uniquely demanding requirements of a sports car capable of well over 200 miles an hour.

The ergonomics of driving a Bristol have always been exemplary so it was interesting to learn that the process of designing the Fighter started with a full size mock-up of the driving position with the car taking shape around it. The result is a car that is supremely elegant but with a steely hint of aggression - a perfect example of the beauty that inevitably results when form exactly follows function.

During the lecture we learnt that the gull-wing doors are a practical solution to access in tight spaces, that the aerodynamics are not only shared with aircraft (as you would expect) but with submarines, and that at 1012 bhp and with a potential maximum speed of more than 270 mph the Fighter T is the most powerful and fastest production car in the world.

There were comparisons with the Bugatti Veyron, which the popular press would have you believe holds that title, which highlighted the difference in approach taken by Volkswagen when trying to design the most powerful car in the world (I don’t think Bristol set out to do this – it just happened because some of their customers simply wanted more than the standard Fighter’s 550 bhp).

When compared to the Fighter T the Veyron, at 3 times the price, is a ridiculous car; the first (and cheapest) service costs £13,645, the tyres need to be changed at only 2,500 miles at a cost of £6,325 each, the wheels themselves then need changing at every third tyre change at a total cost of £29,900, the sump swallows 42 litres of oil, and it has the drag coefficient of a brick at 0.42 (a Ford Mondeo is 0.31 and the Fighter T is only 0.25).

Many thanks to Dave Alan, Michael Barton and the trustees of the Heritage Trust for setting up the event.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Anti-wind Noise

Neil has always found wind noise an irritation even after having the anti-wind noise kit fitted by Bristol Cars in 2007. That reduced the problem slightly but there was still an incomplete seal around the doors that resulted in a roaring noise above 70mph. Perhaps things seemed better in 1967 when judged by the standards of the day, but in comparison to modern cars – well there is no comparison.

Neil has been pondering the problem on and off, trying various secondary seals without much success, but recently found self-adhesive neoprene strips which he has fitted around the tops of my door frames. The strips are 15mm wide and 5mm deep and quite effectively fill the gap between the top of the door and the door opening.

The roaring noise has now been greatly reduced but Neil still thinks further improvements can be made and will carry on experimenting, but for now high speed travel has become more comfortable. One side effect is that the noise of my engine can be more appreciated and enjoyed by those occupying the cabin.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Nelson's Revenge

Neil has gone off to Norfolk and left me behind (something about logistics) but he has sent me a brief and baffling text message probably brought on by a combination of alcohol and sunstroke; Place - Old Hunstanton, Family - in bed, Pub - The Lodge, Beer - Woodforde's Nelson's Revenge, mood - relaxed!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Cars Raise Cash at Summer BBQ

Today the East Anglian section of the Bristol Owners’ Club held their summer Barbeque although the weather was definitely autumnal. 9 cars were in attendance comprising 4 Bristol engined cars and 5 V8s; from left to right 405, 403, 401, 411 S4, 410, 405, 410, 409, 407.

As well as the opportunity to catch up with old friends and new, talk about cars and eat delicious food (thank you to our hosts Nick and Carol for the BBQ, and to everyone who brought food) the main objective of the day was to raise money for the Lymphoma Association. This is the only specialist UK charity that provides accurate medical information and support to lymphatic cancer patients, their families and friends. Closer to home they are helping to keep one of our members healthy and active and our gratitude today raised over £300 for the charity.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Bristol Owners' Club Concours

The National Trust’s Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire was the setting for this year’s concours. The general consensus was that this was probably the best yet and this was certainly true for the East Anglian section with 3 prizes being awarded. Ivan Cunnington (405), Nick Challacombe (407), and Barry Naunton (410) all picked up trophies in their respective classes. There was some very stiff competition so the prizes are all the more deserved and reflect all the hard work put in to the preparation of their cars.

I did not enter the concours competition but lined up with the other cars along the approach to the Hall. Next to me on one side was a newly refurbished 411 and on the other was a 412 I had last seen at the Albert Memorial gathering in 2006. There was good representation from Bristol Cars with an upgraded Blenheim and an Arnolt-Bristol in attendance.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

1 Spitfire, 2 Hurricanes and 3 Bristols

Rougham airfield was constructed in 1941/42 and brought into service as a USAAF airfield accommodating 3,000 personnel. Having being built with a 2,000 yard main runway it was suited to larger aircraft and became the home of the 94th Bomb Group flying B-17s. Between 1943 and 1945 the 94th flew more than 300 missions from Station 468, as Rougham was officially known.

Each year the Friends of Rougham Airfield hold many events, one of which is the Air Display and Classic Car Show. In 2005 the 407 (pictured right) was awarded best car in show, and in 2006 I was awarded runner up for the best post-war saloon, but this year, despite having a 407, a 410 and a Beaufighter to choose from, the organisers overlooked the Bristol marque completely.

Never mind; Neil, Nick and Carol (407), and James and Caroline (Beaufighter) were quite happy watching the many air displays or visiting the well-stocked beer tent.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Rare Convertible Spotted

Today was the West Bergholt Vehicle Show. As Neil was walking around looking at the other cars he did a double-take as he came across a very rare Bristol indeed. This is a 1949 Stabilimenti Farina bodied 401 Cabriolet. This superb example is chassis number 208 and is finished in Old English White. These cars pre-date Bristol's own convertible based on the 401 chassis - the 402 - and is one of only 4 bodied by the Italian coachbuilder.

Neil took several photos before returning to retrieve his owners' club members list from the glove-box. Unfortunately the owner wasn't listed so Neil went back to try and recruit them into the club but the car had gone. Neil's hoping to catch up with them at another show where they won't escape so easily!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Cressing Temple

I think Neil and I have made up now after I let him down in France. He took me to a show at Cressing Temple and even bought some new polish which he was particularly excited about.

Even though it took place on a showery Sunday, the show at Cressing was well attended and there were enough breaks between the clouds to make it worthwhile going. However, after the third time leathering me down Neil decided enough was enough and left about 2pm. Not before he had spoken to a great many people about me. It was probably the greatest amount of interest he can remember – perhaps there is greater awareness of the marque now or maybe that new polish did the trick.

He has been using me every day for the past couple of weeks because Figgy (see 24 April 2009) has broken his cambelt and needs some new valves. Neil’s daily driver stepped up to replace him so I’ve been doing the daily commute. I have to say that I feel much better for it but with the recent wet weather Neil has struggled to keep up with cleaning duties.

The polish, for those who are interested, is Auto-Balm by Bilt-Hamber. It goes on really sparingly but does a good job of filling the swirl marks in my paint. It’s completely synthetic containing no waxes and is a bit harder to buff up but initial impressions seem to confirm that it’s worth it.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Home at Last

This morning at 07:30 I arrived home after a nice man called Paul spent 3 days bringing me all the way from Magalas in an enclosed transporter. Paul works for Ontime Automotive and spends his time transporting cars all over Europe. Neil was initially shocked to see how dirty I was but then relieved once he had carefully checked me over for damage. I was also relieved when Neil removed his bag of dirty washing from my boot!

Now I'm home Neil will want to sort my alternator out, give me a thorough wash and a fresh coat of wax before taking me back on the road.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

I Like France ... and I'm Staying!

By the time you read this Neil and Karen will be safely home but I on the other hand will still be in France. Heading north from Columbieres Sur Orb on the motorway Neil realised that my alternator had failed when I started to cough and splutter. He managed to guide me into a small village and the worst was confirmed. Not carrying a spare, the AA was contacted and allegedly found a garage who could find a part and repair me over the weekend.

Neil and Karen continued to Clermont-Farrand in a Peugeot 308 hire car to admire the art-deco architecture of the town and explore the Puy de Dôme and surrounding volcanoes. Unfortunately the AA's optimism of effecting a repair was misplaced and time ran out (the French lunch-break is sacred and seems to go on for most of the afternoon). Cue a hastily arranged flight home for Neil and Karen and repatriation for me.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Einstein and the Laws of Physics

We have been at the Domaine Rodie in Columbieres Sur Orb for several days now and Neil has been finding out some interesting history about the villa they're staying in.

Parts of the property date from 1783 but it was a Mr. Cremieu, physicist and professor at the Sorbonne, who took the adjoining colonial villa dating from 1910 as his summer residence.

Mr. Cremieu used to invite his friends and colleagues to stay; these included Albert Einstein and Pierre and Marie Curie. The property has 200m² of catacombs purportedly used by Mr. Cremieu and his friends to carry out experiments. Not much remains of their makeshift laboratory apart from a 5m deep pit the purpose of which is unknown. Neil will do some more research on this when we get home.

The laws of physics came into play the other night when the Carcasson winds blew a storm through the Vallée de l'Orb, lifting a plastic patio table and skimming it across my bonnet. What made it worse was the fact that I was very dusty so it left a scuff mark in my paint. When Neil saw this he gave me a good wash then polished out the scuff mark. It did leave a very small dent in my bonnet but it could have been a lot worse.

Tomorrow we depart for Chamalières where, strangely enough, we are staying on Avenue Pierre et Marie Curie!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

I Like France!

After an epic journey yesterday of over 400 miles from Bilbao we arrived safely at our destination for the next week, the Domaine Rodie in Colombieres Sur Orb. We had to be met in the village and guided in for the last half mile down a dirt track because the battery died on the TomTom just as we were approaching. I on the other hand performed faultlessly and really enjoyed the smooth French roads and the distinct lack of traffic.

Neil checked me this morning and in spite of yesterday consisting mainly of steady and prolonged high-speed driving nothing needed topping up. I'm having a rest today, as is everyone else, before we start to explore the local countryside.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Hola Bertie!

We arrived in Bilbao this morning and headed straight for the city centre. I think Neil got lost because I'm sure we went through the same toll 3 times before we found the hotel. I was left in the hotel's underground car park while Neil and Karen visited the Guggenheim then explored the old city. Tomorrow is a long drive through France to Colombieres-sur-Orb so I was glad for the rest.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion

Here I am ready to leave Portsmouth for Bilbao; you can see our Ferry, The Pride of Bilbao, in the background. Boarding took ages and I was eventually put on a small section of deck with a steep ramp but we left on time.

Being at sea is a strange experience. I can feel all my fluids moving around but my engine is not running and my wheels are not turning. I lost touch with the MG and Panther I met in the queue and there are only modern euro-boxes for company. All they want to talk about are their folding metal roofs and xenon headlights not the art of proper motoring. The MG for example has no roof but that all adds to the experience and adventure.

Another night at sea before we arrive at Bilbao. Another day of trying to have a sensible conversation with a Peugot 205cc for me; cafes, bars and dolphin watching for Neil and Karen.

Monday, 18 May 2009

European Adventure

Only a couple of days now until we depart on our European adventure. This is the route we will take after sailing from Portsmouth to Bilbao. We will cover 1,500 miles in 2 weeks, take in some stunning scenery and spend some quality time with friends. Hopefully Neil will take some photographs of me for my album which I'll share with you when we return home.

Test Mobile Blogging

This is a test update to see whether mobile blogging works. If it does I will be able to keep you updated while I am on my travels; so keep checking back! By the way, the photo shows Bristol bodies being manufactured at Park Royal.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Bertie goes to the Seaside

On Sunday 3rd May Neil took me on the 39th Ipswich to Felixstowe Historic Vehicle run. This raises money for the Ipswich Transport Museum, which apparently has the largest transportation collection in Britain devoted to just one town. Everything was either made or used in and around Ipswich including several Bristol buses.

Among the 550 other entrants assembling in Ipswich’s Christchurch Park were Barry Naunton from Ipswich with his 410, and Charles Nelson from Thetford with his 409. Neil and Charles continued their discussion about my shared history with his 409; they have now concluded that although we both started out with the Steel Company of Wales, I was with their Chairman whereas Charles’ 409 was with their Managing Director.

At 11:30 we all set off to Felixstowe through the crowds in the park and then past all the people waving from their front gardens. Progress was slow at times as we made our way through several villages and there was a particularly long-winded tailback in Felixstowe where at a crossroads a Policewoman was directing 4 competing queues of traffic. This claimed a few victims as radiators boiled over but I took it in my stride even though I had a radiator full of Radweld!

This was because the week before I thought I would drop a gentle hint to Neil that my radiator might not be up to a 1,500 mile trip through France in a few weeks time. We were queuing at a set of traffic lights and my temperature was quite high when I let a little steam escape. Neil saw this emerging from the bonnet and pulled me in to a lay-by. When he saw that it wasn’t too serious we carried on via Halfords to purchase the aforementioned Radweld. This kept me going until Neil bought me a nice new radiator core made to measure by Colchester Radiator Specialists.

Anyway, when we arrived at our destination I took my place on Felixstowe promenade while Neil and Karen went in search of lunch. Neil had forgotten to bring a picnic and they ended up in a café eating very nice ham egg and chips. This was followed by Peter’s Ice Creams (made in Ipswich) before they came back to see how I was. I was fine of course just soaking up the compliments at the end of a very enjoyable day.

If you want to see grainy footage of me during the run have a look on YouTube at at 5:37.

Friday, 24 April 2009

First Show of the Year

I have just returned from a thorough service at Bristol Cars where they found my near-side track rod joints were worn. They gave me a nice new assembly, fitted some new front brake pads and Brian fixed my window with a new regulator. I will miss the inelegant sight of Neil trying to lean out of the door while retrieving tickets from car park machines but he will be a lot happier now and so will his physiotherapist!

I passed my MOT with flying colours and we had a very busy trip back home on Friday along the M25 and A12. I had a rest yesterday and today we went to our first car show of the year, at Manningtree High School. This is a yearly event with all proceeds going to fund projects for the school and is now one of the biggest shows in the area. There must have been 500 cars but only one other Bristol, a 410 from Ipswich. The weather was fantastic and I spent all day with my friend Figgy, a Nissan Figaro who is looked after by Neil's wife Karen. In the picture I'm showing off where I keep my spare wheel which surprises people as they walk past and is always a talking point.

Next week is the Ipswich to Felixstowe run and I'll let you know how I get on. Hopefully the weather will be just as nice as it was today.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Easter in Chiswick

I'm spending Easter at Bristol Cars Services in Chiswick, West London. Neil booked me in in preparation for our trip to France. Mr Marelli and his team always make a fuss of me and this time I'm having a 10,000 mile service, an MOT and a problem with my driver's window mechanism looked at. I'll also pick up a few spares while I'm here as Neil thinks we'll drive about 1,500 miles in France and doesn't want to take any chances. 

I've only ever let him down twice in the 6 years that we've been together. The first time we were driving back from London on a Sunday night when one of my core plugs fell out. We were only a few miles from home on the A120 when Neil noticed that the heater had started to blow cold air but the temperature gauge had soared. There was also quite an impressive vapour trail behind us!

The second time was at one of the Helmingham Hall shows in Suffolk when my water pump failed as we were driving into the grounds. We managed to park while I deposited 32 pints of coolant on Lord Tollmache's lawn. Most people were none the wiser but we needed a lift home on a flat-bed truck at the end of the day. We were the last to leave the site and even had a visit from his Lordship's butler to make sure we were all right.

Anyway, Bristol Cars Services are very busy which is why Neil has left me here for a few days. Apparently this is because the turnover in used Bristol's is very brisk at the moment - it's always interesting to look at the stock by going to their used car site. I don't mind though as there are plenty of other cars to get to know; a Fighter, Blenheim, 603, 411, and a 409 to name but a few. There's even a bright orange Zagato Zele electric car that Bristol used to distribute in the '70s. 

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Don't I Look Young?

Here's that photo I mentioned a few weeks ago taken when I was about 17. It was 1984 and I was living in Hampshire with Mr Hunter-Cox and a Morris Traveller the same age as me. You can see my original blue colour and I still have the chrome trim along my sides which was removed later when I was repainted. I notice that my hubcaps were missing too but I wear a complete set now which Neil keeps nice and shiny for me.

Mr Hunter-Cox owned several different Bristols at one time or another but Neil has remained faithful, although he does eye up other models from time to time and I think he is secretly fond of the 412. He probably won't do anything about it but you never know ...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Sid in the News

There was an item on the ITV West Country News programme recently. It featured Sid Lovesy (88 and still going strong), works director of the Bristol Cars factory in Filton, whom I remember very well because he designed my electrical wiring. Neil has also met him, albeit briefly, when he refused to allow Neil to look around the factory!

Soon after he started looking after me Neil and his wife, Karen, took me on a touring holiday to the Pembrokeshire coast and Wales with a couple of nights in Bristol. There was an event on the docks celebrating Bristol Transport and I was able to take part. Neil popped in to the factory unannounced, met Sid and tried to talk his way in but Sid was very protective of the factory’s development work on the Fighter and other secret projects. Sid was perfectly charming and before Neil knew it he was outside saying goodbye.

They’re going to take me on another touring holiday this year but this time to France. I’ll get Neil to post some details. Perhaps he can show a map and itinerary in case there are any continental Bristols who fancy saying hello on my French adventures.

Sunday, 1 March 2009


Saturday turned out to be a nice day so Neil took me into Colchester. After a visit to the Gym he took me into the centre of town for lunch and carefully parked me in a multi-storey car park. I’m often asked about parking safely because not everyone takes the same care over theirs or other people’s cars as Neil does, but with a little thought suitable spaces can be found in most car parks.

The multi-storey we used on Saturday has 8 levels and it tends to fill up from the top down as the top is at street level. However right at the bottom are a dozen or so spaces where the position of the pillars and the height of the roof put most people off. You will often see some very nice motor cars parked down there in splendid isolation from the masses. On Saturday I was opposite an Aston Martin DB9. He wouldn’t talk to me but a nice man and his son ignored the Aston and came over to talk to Neil about a Bristol 407 the man used to own.

I particularly like this one space which has a wall to one side and thick concrete pillars to the other. It is quite awkward to get in to but my slim proportions and manoeuvrability mean that I slip in with ease and feel much protected. The only downside for Neil is that he has to climb 80 steps to get to the High Street (he’s counted) but then he does need the exercise and it is nice that I can accompany Neil on his days out and feel safe when he leaves me on my own.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

I had an encouraging message at the weekend from the Happy Bristoleer. It was nice to hear from him as he has a well established blog for his 410. As there were only ever 79 of us it will be nice to keep in touch with his car so I have added a link on this page to his Short Stories so please take a look.

I have added a picture at the top of this entry showing a period advertisement. I have got a picture somewhere of me in my younger days. When I find it I'll post it here so you can see how much I've changed.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Hello from a Bristol 410

Hello. My name is Bertie and I am a Bristol 410 motor car. I am from the 11th generation of luxury handbuilt high performance cars and was introduced to the world in 1967.

After leaving the factory in Bristol I spent my early years in Swansea with Mr Reg Jones, the Managing Director of the Steel Supply Company of Wales. I then spent many happy years travelling around Southern England until I started to show my age. There was a brief interlude while I had a little work done and then having turned from blue to green I found a new lease of life and carried on with my adventures.

I then started to take life a little easier and moved to East Anglia spending time in Norfolk before finding my new friend Neil about 6 years ago and moving to the Essex/Suffolk border. Neil works in IT so has agreed to set up this blog for me through which he will help to record my continuing adventures.

I hope you find my blog interesting and perhaps I will hear from some of my extended family.