Continuing their drive to increase the quality of their products, in 1953 the Bristol Car Company launched their 403 model, replacing both the 401 Saloon and 402 Cabriolet.
This time around Bristol decided to do without a Cabriolet version, which had proved to be disappointing sales wise. Ironically over the years the Bristol 402 Cabriolet has become recognised as something of a classic
With the 403, Bristol used much of the same styling that they had developed for the 401 saloon, although making some technical improvements, primarily relating to performance.
The same 1971 cc six-cylinder engine was fitted in the 403, after it underwent considerable modification, installing larger valves coupled with installing more sizeable main bearings.
This proved to be a winning combination, capable of increasing the car’s power output to 100 bhp, significant improvement when compared to the 85 bhp that was the maximum that the 401 could generate.
With that kind of power under its hood, the Bristol 403 was recorded reaching a speed of 60 miles per hour (97 kph) within a highly creditable 13.4 seconds.
Design wise, the 403, while bearing a strong resemblance to its predecessors, evidenced that Bristol were becoming less dependent on the influence of the BMW in their cars.
The 403 was the last Bristol to feature what by then had become the almost trademark BMW-style radiator grille.
The Bristol design crew also added two additional headlamps to the car which was placed at the side of the originals, making for one of the first double headlight cars to be released.
This design update ideally offset the car’s broad and rounded wheel arches, which almost covered the 403’s oversized wheels.
The management team at Bristol during the Fifties seemed to be on the constant lookout for improvements and were never prepared to rest on their laurels.
Consequently, as went on to become almost a tradition in the Fifties, in 1955 Bristol dropped the 403 replacing it with the 404.
Just under 300 of the Bristol 403 sports sedans that rolled off the production line at Bristol during the two years that the car was in production.
Many of these cars are still around today, most having remained in first-class running order.