Bristol Blenheim: Spotted

If you fancy a bespoke British sporting car of good pedigree and rich heritage but find an Aston too louche and a Bentley a bit common, take a look at this Bristol Blenheim. It's either a gentleman's luxury express or a handmade horror, depending on your point of view - and I'm aware that most of you will have clocked the lead image and already made up your mind on that one.

Don't dismiss it lightly, though: this Blenheim 3 is a 5.9-litre Chrysler V8-engined, 150mph, wood and leather-lined, aluminium-bodied four-seater of fighter-pilot class and supreme engineering logic. It's eccentric and, in parts, exquisite - it'll last forever, too. On that last point alone it's probably worth the £50k investment.

Indeed despite the decidedly hands-off PR approach the firm always employed, Bristol cars actually went through a brief period of popularity with a number of celebrities buying in - think Bono, Branson, Paul Smith and Liam Gallagher. On the whole, though, this is a car unlikely to appeal to the teenagers - its owners tend to be sober and discreet individuals and enthusiasts who prize the Bristol's anonymity.

On top of that, the firm went bust a few years ago, after a steady decline in which its expensive and quirky looking cars grew to feel so out of date that not even the most devoted aficionado would touch a new one with a bargepole. Recent attempts by its new owners to revive the brand with the enticing Bullet, and the promise of a new 200mph range-extender, may yet herald a new dawn.

But if time wasn't kind to Bristol, I urge you to be like Yeats and love the pilgrim soul and the sorrows of its changing face. It was once a firm known for its aircraft-industry standards of build and inspection, its engineering innovation and prowess and its beautifully detailed execution. Fully bespoke, too, like a good suit, so you could tailor the driving position or the dampers to your own specification - whatever you found wanting in your car could easily be set right.

This Blenheim 3 is nearing the end of a long line of understated and elegant V8 cars, stretching back to the 1960s, and felicitous details still abound. There's the low centre of gravity and ideal weight distribution, the tight turning circle and excellent steering. It seats four in leathery comfort, and has a huge boot. Its range is long, and its economy is boosted by a cruising gait of 70mph and just 1,700rpm.

Changed your mind yet? No, I thought maybe not.


Engine: 5,900cc, V8
Transmission: 4-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 400@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 410@3,500rpm
MPG: 16.6
CO2: N/A
First registered: 2002
Mileage: 14,000 miles
Price new: £141,995
Price now: £49,995

See the original advert here

Mark Pearson



P.H. O'meter

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Comments (235) Join the discussion on the forum

  • FerdiZ28 12 Jan 2018

    Vauxhall Carlton rear lights? Ugly ungainly thing but strangely very appealing. Screams old money.

  • Barchettaman 12 Jan 2018

    Senator rear lights, I think.

    FourWheelDrift is the Bristol rear-light resident expert:

    What a very odd-looking thing. Do they look any better 'in the metal'?

    Edited by Barchettaman on Thursday 11th January 09:55

  • kambites 12 Jan 2018

    Barchettaman said:
    Do they look any better 'in the metal'?
    Not really, no. hehe

    As above though, they're oddly desirable for something so incredibly ugly.

  • V8 FOU 12 Jan 2018

    Bit like the ugly girl who is a brilliant shag....... no, no, don't ask!

    For that sort of dosh in that genre I would have a Jensen CV8

  • _Sorted_ 12 Jan 2018

    Is this the car that Clarkson reviewed for the Sunday Times and said the bumper must have been put on by a horse as a human could not do it that badly? Also, he thought someone had sat on the back seat with a nail gun to attach some of the fittings to the dash?

    Edited by _Sorted_ on Thursday 11th January 10:02

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