Bristol reloads with new Bullet speedster

Published: 28 July 2016

► New Bristol Bullet revealed
► Powered by 4.8-litre BMW V8
► Claimed 0-62mph in 3.8sec

Bristol Cars, the infamously eccentric British manufacturer of old, is back – although, upon laying eyes on its new Bullet, some traditionalists may wish otherwise.

The Bullet, a V8-powered speedster, is designed to celebrate 70 years of Bristol Cars. It’s the first car to be launched by Bristol since it was rescued from administration in 2011.

Julian Ramshaw, general manager of the revived brand, said: ‘The Bullet celebrates 70 years of design and innovation at Bristol Cars. This unique speedster sets the tone for the future of Bristol cars – with a focus on luxury, performance and elegance.

‘The discovery of the prototype at the factory provided us with the perfect way to celebrate this incredible marque’s 70th anniversary. Open-top, highly luxurious, lightweight and full of torque, it really is the ultimate driver’s car.’

It looks… interesting.

The Bullet’s styling, unquestionably, is sure to divide. In some respects, you might argue that it perfectly captures the essence of Bristols made in the ’70s and ’80s – by looking like an undesirable and incoherent mess. Then again, from some angles, there is undeniable charm.

Bristol Bullet

Bristol states that elements like the grill and wings are all ‘visual clues to the company’s roots as an aeroplane manufacturer’. While the design might hark back to days past, the materials certainly don’t – as the exterior panels are manufactured from carbonfibre.

So the Bristol Bullet is light, then?

Definitely. Bristol claims a kerb weight of 1100kg. Consequently, even with a small engine, this BMW Z4-sized speedster would likely perform in a lively fashion.

However, there’s no mere four or six under the bonnet. Much like the Morgan Plus 8, the Bristol packs a 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8 sourced from BMW. It’s claimed to put out 369bhp and 361lb ft, which is sent to the rear wheels via your choice of automatic or manual gearbox.

Bristol Bullet

As you can imagine, given the low kerb weight, the performance figures are impressive. Bristol states that the Bullet will blast from 0-62mph in just 3.8sec, and top out at 155mph.

The company dubs its BMW-sourced engine the Hercules, as a further nod to its aviation background – name-checking the 14-cylinder Bristol Hercules radial engine.

What else do I need to know?

It packs BMW-sourced switchgear, so at least that should work properly. The Bristol also comes with a touch-screen media system that offers up DAB, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and screen mirroring of your mobile devices. Sports seats are standard, and owners can pick from a host of interior trims and finishes – including carbonfibre and wood.

Bristol Bullet

We’ve some reservations about the quality, though. Take a close look at the door handle, for example – it all appears a little undulating. And is that blistered paint at the right-hand edge? Definitely ticking some classic British niche manufacturer boxes already… 

I’m still interested. When can I buy one?

Alas, only a production run of just 70 cars is planned – and all have reputedly already been accounted for, with each setting the new owners back in the region of £250,000. Or you could have, say, a Ferrari 488 GTB and pocket some £66k in change. 

Production of the Bristols will begin in the first quarter of 2017, and you’ll be able to get a closer look at the car in the company’s London showroom in West Kensington.

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Bristol Bullet

By Lewis Kingston

Formerly of this parish. Inveterate car buyer and seller; currently owner of a '68 Charger project car

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