Bristol is one of the dozens of once-great British carmakers that didn’t quite make it. An Indian tech firm has been trying to resurrect the brand for a couple of years, and it is now ready to take on the automobile market with a brand new convertible powered by a big V8 engine.
Called Bullet, the new roadster was previewed last month at the Goodwook Festival of Speed by a fully camouflaged concept car known as Project Pinnacle. Thanks to the retro-inspired front end design with bulging fenders, round headlights and narrow grill, it turned heads. The back end is characterized by a pair of fins that flow out of the quarter panels, round tail lamps and a chromed fuel filler cap.
The roadster is the work of an Italian design house, though the firm’s identity is being kept secret for the time being. Power comes from a naturally aspirated 4.4-liter V8 engine borrowed from the BMW parts bin and tuned to generate 370 horsepower. The connection between Bristol and BMW isn’t as random as it might initially seem. Enthusiasts will likely remember that the very first Bristol car used many mechanical components stamped with a BMW parts number when it debuted in 1947.
The Bimmer-sourced eight spins the rear wheels via a six- speed manual transmission that also carries a BMW parts number. It sends the Bullet from zero to 60 mph in four seconds — about on par with a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S — and on to a top speed that’s electronically limited to 155 mph. The Bristol Bullet is on sale now with a base price of about 250,000 pounds, a princely sum that converts to roughly $330,000, and it will enter production early next year. Just 70 example will be built, so don’t expect to see a Bullet on every street corner even in its home country of England. U.S. enthusiasts are out of luck because the Bullet wasn’t designed to comply with the safety and emissions regulations here.
Company executives hope the Bullet’s ultra-light carbon fiber chassis will spawn additional variants in the coming years. The models might continue to uphold the tradition of using BMW engines, but the 4.4-liter V8 won’t power another Bristol because the Bullet will reportedly be the brand’s last naturally aspirated model.