Bristol Cars, the quintessentially British gentleman’s wheels, unveiled only its 18th model in 70 years of existence, and the first new model for 10 years, today: the Bristol Bullet. Powered by a 4.8-litre V8 engine supplied by BMW and ‘finished’ by Bristol, the Bullet speedster – with no roof and a minimal windscreen – will cost ‘under £250,000’ (about $300,700). Performance figures are 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.
We had a passenger spin in the pre-production model earlier this week; orders for the finished car, limited to a run of 70, are now being taken, with first deliveries in January. First impressions suggest a huge dose of torque delivered via a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, and a design that looks deceptively simple from the outside but presents a long, curving bonnet and rare sense of presence from the driver’s seat.
The Bullet is very obviously a Bristol: its carbon-fibre body maintains the rear fins and square front grille from previous models and the name itself has roots that stretch back to Bristol’s early beginnings as an aircraft manufacturer before the First World War, when the Bristol Scout, used widely by the MoD and the first plane to prove that aerial combat was possible, was fondly referred to as ‘the Bullet’ because of its nimbleness.
The 2017, four-wheeled version, is tasked with bringing Bristol, now owned by Frazer-Nash, right up to date. A Bristol app will link the touchscreen in the carbon-fibre dash with your smartphone for Bluetooth and wifi connections. A ‘concierge button’ provides direct access to Bristol’s only and original showroom in Kensington.
As you’d expect from a superlative British coachbuilder, the sports seats are ‘hand trimmed in the finest British hides’ and owners can choose a classic wood for the dashboard panelling, a ‘modern herringbone carbon-fibre weave’ or ‘a unique hand-laid unidirectional carbon-fibre weave’.
The concept version was called ‘Project Pinnacle’, a reference to this car marking the end of the road for conventional powertrains; expect the next Bristol to be electrified. Meanwhile, the marque’s past is never far away: a glorious 70 per cent of all Bristols ever made are still on the road today.