Displacement: 1,971 cc
Horsepower: 105 bhp @ 5,000 rpm
Engine Torque: 112 lb ft @ 3,750 rpm
Top Speed: 110 mph
0 - 60 mph: 14.7 seconds
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The Bristol Cars Company was born of the Bristol Aeroplane Company following the conclusion of World War II. Finding themselves at rather a loss for something to do, after the demand for their magnificent fighters & bombers had waned rather dramatically, they decided to enter into automobile manufacture. One of the board members managed to secure a deal to obtain the plans & several engines from BMW as reparations for the German war debt. Consequently, the first three offerings from the new company bore a remarkable resemblance, both outwardly and mechanically to the pre-war BMW models. They were aimed towards a very discerning clientele and were always intended to be extremely exclusive. They had but one dealership, which still exists to this day, in Kensington, London.
The fourth & fifth offerings, the 404 and 405, were built concurrently (though 404 production began two years earlier, in 1953) and marked quite a departure from their predecessors. The bodies had a far more modern appearance and, by virtue of their aeroplane roots, were amongst the first cars developed in a wind tunnel. A further nod to their aviation heritage was the new radiator air intake, which had heavy tinges of aero-engine styling. Another splendidly innovative, new feature that was to become a trademark of all later Bristols, was the inclusion of storage space for the battery and spare wheel in hinged compartments, in the wings, behind the front wheels. They also featured a greatly improved transmission with a shorter, more precise gear lever.
One of only two left hand drive cars ever produced, out of a total production of 265 saloons, this 405 was delivered new to California in May 1956. The original owner sold it in 1960 and the second owner brought the car back to England when he relocated there in 1963. There it remained until it re-emigrated to the States in 2004, to join its third and last owner.
Finished in Pewter Grey, the aluminium coachwork is extremely straight and as handsome as ever, and the undercarriage is remarkably sound & corrosion-free. The black-piped, saddle tan leather interior is entirely original and though obviously patina’d, is still in great shape. Mechanically, the car has been superbly maintained throughout its life and comes complete with one of the most meticulous set of records imaginable (including its pristine, original owners handbook). As a result, it runs and drives beautifully.
The 405 is now enjoying a new-found recognition as a result of its starring role in the popular 2009 film, An Education. By virtue of its age and exclusivity, its eligibility for classic events is excellent and its inherently sweet road manners make it a true pleasure to drive in any circumstance.