Lot 2209

The Elkhart Collection

1953 Bristol 403 Saloon


$61,600 USD | Sold

United States Flag | Elkhart, Indiana



Serial No.
Chassis No.
Engine No.
  • A hand-built Bentley competitor with BMW 328–derived engine
  • Quality restoration in a striking color scheme
  • Still fitted with original engine and data tag
  • Features a four-speed floor-shift transmission
  • One of only 287 built; very rare in the United States
  • An opportunity to acquire a wonderful and different automobile

Following World War II, British airplane manufacturer Bristol received the designs of BMW’s 328 racing engine, among the most successful of the pre-war era, as war reparations. Bristol took the engine, with its unusual dual pushrod-operated exhaust valves, and improved it for durability and reliability, then installed it in a new grand tourer with sensuously streamlined coachwork. The original model, the 400, would spawn four further series with steadily improved chassis engineering and refined styling. The 403, of 1953–55, featured an engine with larger valves and main bearings for 100 bhp and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 13.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 104 mph. Its chassis featured an anti-roll bar and improved Alfin drum brakes.

These luxurious, streamlined saloons were hand-built for the wealthy few and were thus always few in number. Just 287 503s were made in the three seasons of production, and very few have made their way to the United States.

The example offered here is a high-quality restoration in black with rich plum-red leather upholstery; this color scheme is especially attractive on the 403’s lines, and the bodywork on this example is very well finished and properly fit. Even the push-button door handles work correctly, and the interior shows scarcely any wear or use, reflective of the good cosmetic maintenance the car has enjoyed. Under the hood shows more use of driving enjoyment, but is still overall quite presentable. Significantly, the original engine is still in place, with its number stampings matching the original data tag, though it has been fitted with aftermarket air filters. At the time of cataloguing, the car had recorded 45,577 miles.

This is a beautiful Bristol and will be a thrill for highway touring.