The marque: Eccentric builder of grand tourers, with distant aerospace and BMW links
The history: In the 1930s, BMW had a delightful sports car called the 328. Then war came, and BMW's assets were scattered. Various post-war deals were done to secure the design, plus engineer Fritz Fiedler, so the Bristol Aeroplane Company could set up in car manufacture now that demand for warplanes had tailed off. Suitably re-engineered, and with all metric threads replaced by imperial ones, the car emerged in 1947 as the Bristol 400. This and the next three models retained a BMW-like double-slot grille. They were beautifully engineered, and from the mid-1950s, had a graceful style. The engine powered many sports cars and racing cars.
In 1962, Bristol, now separate from aircraft operations, replaced the BMW-based, two-litre engine with a Chrysler V8, and that continued until 1976's 411, with developments of the 1958 body style. These were fast, elegant and desirable cars, then it all went wrong. The plot was lost with the angular 412 and slab-sided, overbodied 603, although the engineering was as good as ever.
Now there's a new boss and a new car, the Bristol Fighter. It uses a Dodge Viper V10 engine, is claimed to do 210mph and is the best-looking Bristol in years. A reputation salvaged? We'll see.
Defining model: 407, 1962-63. It was the first with a V8 engine, but kept the old purity of style
They say: Bespoke motor cars for those above fashion
We say: The Fighter's a coupé in the Last Chance saloonReuse content