Having set themselves a tough act to follow with the 405 door saloon and coupe, the design and development team at Bristol once again surpassed themselves with its replacement, the un-originally titled 406.
As was evident in replacing such a popular and critically acclaimed car like the 405, the 406 was handed several updates and most of them significant.
Without doubt, the most outstanding was that Bristol’s well-known tried and tested six-cylinder engine underwent a significant upgrade, with both its bore and stroke levels increased to provide an engine displacement of 2,216 cc (135 cubic inches).
The reasoning behind the update was to generate more power at lower engine speeds, making the 406 no less enjoyable for city driving as on the open road.The 406 was the Bristol to be fitted with a six-cylinder engine. Despite the engine being due to be phased out, it had been handed a major fitted with self-cancelling overdrive and a timing chain tensioner.
Even though it had undergone a serious upgrade, the 406 marked the last car to be produced by Bristol to be fitted with a pushrod straight six engine.
A formula derived from a design developed in the post-war years by BMW.
Even though the engine had been updated to provide more power, with Bristol moving more into the luxury sports car market, this type of engine was rapidly becoming outmoded-and unable to compete with more modern powerhouses that were gradually emerging towards the end of the Fifties.
The 406 came with just a single option, a two-door saloon body with no hint of four doors anywhere in the future.
To help the car stand out even more from the crowd, the 406 was fitted with such interesting accessories as roof-mounted indicators , electric screen washers, radio speakers discreetly fitted between the sun visors and a flip-up headrests for the driver and front seat passenger- refinements previously unheard of in the mid -Fifties.
According to the Fifties motoring media the car’s styling placed it more in the category of a luxury car rather than a genuine sports saloon.
Bristol’s fast-growing reputation for producing exclusive tourers for the privileged few was the 406’s ability to command a price three times higher than an equivalent Jaguar tourer.
Its successor,the 407, was already in its advaned stages of development-ready to step in and takes it place.
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A guide to acquiring, restoring and maintaining UK or European Classic Cars of the Fifties and Sixties- as well as a recollection of the iconic cars of the era and the visionaries that produced them.