Bristol in administration: sale expected in days

Published: 12 April 2011

Bristol Cars could be sold within days, as the administrators are in exclusive talks with one bidder, CAR has learned.

Several parties expressed an interest in the failed car maker, which collapsed into administration on 3 March 2011. Recovery specialist RSM Tenon is handling the sale and has reported a flurry of interest in Bristol Cars.

'Negotiations are ongoing and we have now settled on exclusive talks with one party,' a spokeswoman told CAR. 'It is difficult to tell how long the next stage will be, as these deals can be very complex and time-consuming.'

Forget the news on 1 April that China's Xinjiang No1 Tractor Company was bidding for Bristol; that's a rather far-flung, albeit entertaining, April Fool's joke.

Bristol Cars collapse: the background

Bristol Cars filed for administration last month. RSM Tenon immediately made the 20 staff at the Bristol factory redundant, as well as two of the seven staff at the Kensington showroom.

Tony Crook, who ran Bristol until 1997 when he sold half the company to Toby Silverton, said in a recent interview with Octane that the decision to launch the Fighter supercar was what killed Bristol. 'The whole problem was that they decided suddenly to give up the idea of a saloon car and instead make a supercar,' he claimed. 'They didn't have sufficient money to do it.'

Does Bristol Cars have a future?

Observers claim the company is salvageable, not least to service the existing parc of around 8000 Bristols built since 1946.

Geoff Hawkins, chairman of the Bristol Owners Club, told CAR: 'Our members were stunned when we heard the news. We are anxious about the availability of parts and maintenance of Bristols and hope this will be resolved soon.'

He confirmed 'several deals' had been put to the administrators, but declined to comment on the individual bids. 'Everyone would like to see Bristol actually build cars again, rather than just become a parts and servicing company. That's what keeps the business alive for future generations and keeps supply of used cars out there. Very few of us could afford to buy a brand new Bristol.

'Bristols are quite unlike any other cars out there,' Hawkins added. 'They don't shout at you, yet they're still interesting to enthusiasts. It's amazing how often people pull up behind you on a motorway and have a good look, trying to work out what on earth you're driving. I like that about Bristols.'

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet