Type 404


This type set the style for the next three Bristol built models, and a further two limited production runs. The first of these was by Bertone of Italy for S.H. Arnolt which was the 404-X, more usually known as the Arnolt Bristol, and the second was by E.D. Abbott of Farnham, and this was the 405 Abbott. As you will see, there was also one 404 Abbott. Taxation changes on company cars introduced not long after its release conspired to kill off demand on the home market for this attractive little coupé. One could speculate that the prevailing financial climate, whilst against this little car in the UK, was less so beyond our shores. This might explain why a higher than normal percentage of these models were exported and are therefore also reported constructed with left hand drive. Of the cars detailed by the club to date, there are seven so configured.

Features of the car

It seems that the body codes were omitted on the prototype and development cars as chassis number 2004 in the sequence has the code 1/101. N.B. Bristol Car Number codes where applied, usually start at the even hundred or hundred plus one. After chassis 2004, all other confirmed Car Number or Body codes bar one appear to be consistent. The highest body code logically on the last car made, chassis number 2051, is 1/148, and the sequence of chassis 2010 having the body code 107 seemed to be consistent with the Abbott being allowed code 1/106, as stated in the last edition, which was an incorrect assumption. The 404 by Abbott is now known to be Body number E/101 and the full chassis number is 404/E/1/2009. Thus two 404s have the body number sequence 101. The 405D bodies have the letter prefix F.

It was stated in issue 1.10 that it looked as though after ‘the Bomb’ experimental prototype, which was not apparently sold, there were 51 production cars made by Bristol at Filton, plus one other which was bodied by Abbott of Farnham. Of these there are details of 45 of the production cars in the 404 chassis list, plus the Abbott. A number of these are still to be identified by chassis number. The inclusive figure of 52 was more than had been previously stated by others. That figure has now been kindly confirmed to me by Tony Crook who incidentally also enjoys one of these cars.

Paint Colours

The standard body colours are described in the brochure as Bristol Red, Heather Grey, Lavender, Cambridge Grey, Surf Blue, Dark Green, Green Metallichrome, Black.

404 Special or Non Standard Body cars

404 Prototype

The description of the final body form is not the shape that the original prototype car took: soon after it took shape it was nicknamed `the Bomb'. The car was so named because of its similarity in appearance from the rear to the wartime artifact. It was fitted with extended rear wing fins and had a large central fin extending from the centre of the back of the roof flanked by two circular windows, rather like stern portholes set port and starboard. The larger fins were intended to improve straight line stability. Their effect after testing was deemed negligible. This car was described and illustrated in the Channer lecture, reported in Bulletin 39, in which it was also stated that the first production car had a large central fin, which was removable. Fortunately this detail was not included in the balance of the production series, and the extended rear wing fins were reduced in size. As far as is known, this prototype body was never released. An alternate design, which never went beyond wind tunnel scale model stage, had four rear fins. In the first production car the twin rear porthole windows had already been abandoned in favour of a single central unit. The club does not have a chassis number assumed to be 404/1/Pl, nor is it known if it survives.

non-standard rear without bumpers

There are many examples in this type of variations of lights and body features. The model above has no rear bumpers now, and perhaps never had them. It is thought to be an early car. This car has an unusual cluster of rear lights. Rear brake/side and reverse lights were usually the familiar rectangular ribbed glass units successively used from the 400 through the 403. The radio aerial is unusually fitted tucked inside the nearside rear fin.

404 Abbott

Only one special design body is known to have been built of this type. It is a Drophead by E.D. Abbott of Farnham mounted on chassis 2009. It is of unusual construction because it has a tilt front bonnet and wing unit like that employed on the Jaguar ‘E’ type, also to be seen on the much more domestic Triumph Herald and Vitesse models. See also the graphic illustration of an artist's impression of the car, at end of the 404 chassis list.

404 NSB

One car, confirmed as chassis 2013, was fitted with a boot lid by special request and to accommodate this feature the petrol filler cap, normally located on the top and centred on the rear bodywork, between window and number plate, was relocated to the side. Since issue 1.10 of these lists I have been told that there could be another two 404s finished in a like manner, but these cars have not yet been identified nor the information corroborated.

404 with auxiliary driving lamps

Another car, chassis 2037, pictured above, is fitted with an extra pair of built-in auxiliary driving lamps, and more modern indicator lights.

The special rear light variation of chassis 2051, and the reason for it, has already been described earlier in this section. It was pictured in the last edition of the chassis lists.

Portuguese 404

The illustration above is of an original 404 which is in Portugal.

Abbott 404 concept drawing

An artist's impression of the Abbott 404 before construction. Ferrari would have been hard pressed to match these looks. The grille was made much larger.