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The new Bristol Bullet

By raccars Published

The new Bristol Bullet was unveiled this week, with a 4.8 litre V8 and 370bhp.

Kensington-based specialist manufacturer Bristol hasn't released a new car for 12 years. The venerable British firm started out making aeroplanes before opening an automotive division in 1945, producing low volume, speciality vehicles. There is only one Bristol showroom, in Kensington High Street in London, and the company eschews publicity, relying upon a small but loyal and enthusiastic client base. In 2011 Bristol Cars Limited went into administration but a buyer was found, since when the firm has been busy selling and restoring existing models and developing the new Bristol Bullet.

70 Bristol Bullets

Created to celebrate Bristol's 70th anniversary, the two seater open top sports car will be limited to a 70 unit production run, with a price tag expected to be around £250,000. Each model is built by hand over two weeks in Bristol's Chichester facility in Hampshire, and can only be bought through the Kensington showroom. Bristol has apparently already received orders and deposits from a number of British and international clients for the Bullet, with some 50 per cent in left hand drive. At the moment type approval regulations mean that Bristol will not be catering to the US market but it has future plans to do so.

Classic looking roadster

While Bristol has gone for an elegant and classic look, underneath the Bullet is a thoroughly modern car. Its bodywork is carbon fibre with a bonded aluminium chassis. The car can get to 62mph in less than four seconds thanks to a kerb weight of only 1,100kg combined with a 370bhp 4.8 litre V8 engine. The car's top speed will be limited to 155mph.

Much of the mechanical equipment is BMW-sourced, but Bristol provides the finishing touches. The naturally aspirated BMW engine is taken from the previous model X5 and drives the Bullet's rear wheels with the help of a ZF six speed transmission, in manual or automatic formats.

The Bullet is similar in size to the latest Porsche 718 Boxster, in roadster format. The cabin is lined with soft leather and punctuated by traditionally-styled leather switchgear, but its functionality is bang up to date. There's an infotainment touchscreen, built in Wi-Fi and smartphone connectivity plus a digital radio. Bristol is also offering plenty of customisation options.

Bristol used the services of an Italian design house to create the new Bullet's elegant lines but has declined to say whom - industry rumour suggests Pininfarina. To add to the mystery, the Bullet is apparently based upon a Bristol prototype from 1966 which never made it into production. Bristol has already used the name 'Bullet' a hundred years ago for a First World War fighter plane and on a low profile 1966 Speedster. During development the Bullet car wore the codename 'Project Pinnacle'.

Kamal Siddiqi

Bristol's 2011 financial saviour was an Indian businessman called Kamal Siddiqi, who is based in the UK. Siddiqi claims to be fully committed to the revival of the Bristol brand, and also intends to introduce hybrid technology. The Siddiqis are also the owners of the Frazer-Nash transport research company and have a number of interests in other relevant industries.

This means that they have access to petrol electric hybrid technology for buses and Metrocab taxis, and Bristol plans to adapt range-extending hybrid systems from the existing technology. This apparently means that the Bullet will be the last car to use V8 engines for Bristol, which is planning the release of a hybrid GT within the next few years.

While embracing all of this modernity, Siddiqi is very clear that he is determined to maintain the exclusivity and luxury for which Bristol is known, and to continue designing cars upon the basis of European grand touring.

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