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SLIDER: 1956 Bristol 405

The Royal Oak, Much Marcle, Herefordshire welcomed 130 cars to a get-together on New Year’s Day 2022. Sadly, this beautiful Bristol had to stay outside the main car park: only pre-war cars allowed.

The Bristol 405 saloon was the first and only Bristol with four doors but its drophead coupé version only ever had two doors. Two models were contemporaneous: the 404, a strict 2-seater nicknamed the ‘Gentleman’s Express’, was built from 1953 to 1958 and the 405 from 1955 to 1958.

265 of the 308 405 model were saloons; a mere 43 were dropheads with bodies built by Abbotts of Farnham. All cars used aluminium panels over a steel and ash frame and most cars had a highly tuned version of the 2 litre six-cylinder engine called the 100C which developed 125 bhp as against the 105 bhp of the standard 100B engine. Even the 105 bhp engine was fitted with Solex triple downdraft carburettors. Wartime “pool petrol” was by now gone, and all 404 and 405 engines had high compression ratios of 8.5:1. The 405 had overdrive as standard apart from the earliest models, and front disc brakes became an option, being fitted to almost all 405 drophead coupés.

The 404 and 405 abandoned the double-kidney BMW-style grille of earlier models for a more aero-engine style, used on all models until replaced in 1963 by the squarer grille of the 408. They also introduced the two lockers in the front wings: the nearside held the spare wheel and jack, whilst the offside housed the battery and fuse panel.

Photo by Peter McFadyen. See his website:

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