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.