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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.

Body Badge
Design and Delivery

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.

Arnolt badge — click for 68Kb image

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:

  1. "Bolide"

    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.

  2. "De Luxe"

    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.

  3. "Coupé"

    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.

This 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.