Type 404/x Arnolt Bristol sportscar (1953 - 1955)
our thanks to the Bristol owners club
This was a production series of cars specially commissioned from the
Bristol Aeroplane Company (Car Division) Ltd by S H "Wacky" Arnolt
of Warsaw, Indiana USA. "Wacky" was then successfully running an MG Agency
and Dealership in the USA and also was a Vice President of the design
house of Bertone in Italy.
The prototype car was introduced in 1953. Series production and
shipping commenced in 1954 and effectively ceased in 1955. Most were sold
by 1958, though one car held as factory stock in Indiana was revamped and
was finally first sold in 1968.
A Hybrid in every sense, the Type 404/X was fabricated on the shortened
Type 404 chassis with Type 403 running gear, but was fitted as standard
with the Bristol 2 litre BS1/Mk2 series straight six cylinder sports
engine. Driven chassis were shipped out to Italy where they were generally
clad with a steel body though there were a few notable exceptions.
Driven chassis were progressively delivered to Italy where bodies were
designed fabricated and fitted by Bertone at their factory. The
project chief body designer was Sciaglione, himself famous for the
BAT "Aerodynamica" series of designs on other marques, most
especially 3 specials based on Alfa Romeo driven chassis. The influence is
obvious to cognoscenti. First production models were leaving the Bertone
factory in Italy for shipment to USA in late 1953 early 1954.
The accepted production figure is of 142 cars, which included 6 chassis
that were clad as fixed-head coupés. Sadly, 12 units were originally
reported damaged or destroyed in a fire in a Chicago warehouse before
reaching Arnolt at Warsaw, Indiana, USA. Others were reported with lesser
scorch and superficial fire damage. At least one of these twelve cars was
thought later rebuilt. It seems more likely that it was one of the
scorched cars rather than a totally burnt out unit.
The Arnolt Bristol, as it was named for sale (note no hyphen),
was very successful in road and track meet events. The Arnolt Company
operated its own Racing Team which like the Bristol Company 450 Racing
Team also had much competitive success in specialized events.
All Arnolts carry their own badges depicting a winged horse jumping
through a letter A which bears on the cross bar the word "ARNOLT". For
example, see the Hub cap badge shown right. This external allusion to the
Bristol Aeroplane Company via the Pegasus badge is not lost on Bristol
cognoscenti, for 'Pegasus' was the name given to one of the parent
company's many famous Aero Engines.
Arnolts were supplied in three specifications:
This was the name given to the base level specification. It was very
basic indeed and offered a folding half screen, rubber mats, no interior
trim, no body trim, no soundproofing, simple lightly padded seats and
instruments spread across the painted steel fascia panel.
The next level option specification included full width screen,
instruments placed in a podule before the driver, quarter bumpers or
bumperettes, fold down hood (though most had side curtains to the hood,
one car was later fitted with wind down windows at the Bertone
factory), trim panels to doors with arm rests, carpets, interior door
handles and exterior door buttons. The seats had more padding than the "Bolide"
and were fitted with sliding adjusters.
This was a very different body style and very exclusive final option.
This version was trimmed to the same specification as the "De Luxe" but
additionally fitted standard with wind down side windows, fixed roof and
rear window. However, – before you rush out to find one – only six
Coupés were ever built.
Of course a number of mostly "Bolide" and some "De Luxe" cars were
fitted out to customer requirement, so there are a number of cars seen
bearing features of higher specification models, e.g."Borrani" knock off
wheels, chromed bumperettes, folding hoods and detachable side screens,
pop-up headlamps etc. etc.
illustration is of an Arnolt Bristol "Bolide" which is in
Australia. It has fitted as standard many "De Luxe" specification
attributes though not all. This was a feature of many of the later Bolide
production models. It has the De Luxe full screen but not the bumperettes.
It is fitted with standard pressed wheels and hub caps, not the Borrani
knock off variety often fitted.
This view of a Bolide from the rear quarter demonstrates the clean
sweeping lines of the design; a smaller, non-standard central tail light
unit accentuates the already minimal provision of lights and fittings.