Bristol V8 Spotters' Guide

The external differences between some Bristol V8 models are quite subtle. Here we summarize the features that enable you to tell one from the other without needing to look under the bonnet!


Things to look for

  • Headlamps
    • 407 has two round headlamps.
    • Types 408 to 411S2 have two 7" outer headlamps and two 5" recessed into the grille.
    • Types 411 and 411S2 have two 7" outer headlamps and two 5" in chrome surrounds standing proud of the grille.
    • Types 411S3 to 603S2 have two pairs of 7" headlamps.
    • Britannia and Brigand have rectangular headlamp units.
    • Blenheim has two pairs of small separate headlamps.
  • Bumpers
    • 407 has fat chrome bumpers with overriders.
    • 408 to 411 have traditional rounded chrome bumpers without overriders.
    • 603 has narrow, squared bumpers (S2 without studs)
    • Britannia and Brigand have rubber bumpers with inlaid metal strip
    • Blenheim has bumpers incorporated into body
  • Rear Lamps
    • 407 has separate rear lamp units for reverse, indicator and stop.
    • 408 - 411S3 have oval rear lamp clusters.
    • 411S4 - 603 have rectangular rear lamp clusters.
    • Rearguard fog lamp introduced on 411S5
    • Blenheim has wide rectangular wrap-round lamp clusters.
  • Exhausts
    • Types 407 - 411S2 have two tailpipes.
    • Types 411S3 - Blenheim have two pairs of twin tailpipes.
    • Turbocharged models Brigand and Beaufighter have a single tailpipe.
  • Grille
    • 407 grille is styled like an aircraft intake, with horizontal trim strip with lower loop, surmounted by Pegasus badge
    • 408 grille is squarish and horizontally slatted. Inner headlamps recessed therein.
    • 409 and 410 grilles are of trapezoid shape, wider at the top, horizontal slats, inner headlamps recessed therein.
    • Smile-shaped trim strip to lower edge of grille aperture on early 410s
    • 411 and 411S2 grilles are trapezoid, wider at the bottom, horizontal slats, inner headlamps recessed therein.
    • 411S3 and 411S4 grilles are rectangular with concentric rectangular chrome grille.
    • 411S5 grille is rectangular with concentric rectangular black grille.
    • 603 grille is rectangular with three horizontally slatted square grille inserts and a central colour enamel Bristol badge.
    • Blenheim 1 grille is shaped as a very elongated right-rotated "D" bearing a central coloured enamel Bristol badge.
    • Blenheim 3/4 grille as Blenheim 1 but simple horizontal trim strip
  • Side Trim
    • Type 407 has a single full-length lateral trim strip
    • Types 408 and 409 have full-length upper strip and separate lower strip running from apex of front wheel arch to 2/3 of the way across the passenger door.
    • Type 410 has the top strip curving down to join the lower at the front, and the lower curving up to join the lower at the rear. Caution: many cars have modified trim.
    • Type 411 and 411S2: single trim strip
    • Type 411S3, S4 and S5: No trim strip
    • Types 603 and Britannia: bodywork ridge
  • Bonnet
    • Type 407 bonnet does not extend all the way to the front. There is a central roundel on top of the air intake surround.
    • Types 408-410 have a central roundel at the front of the bonnet.
    • Brigand and Beaufighter have a rectangular bulge at the centre rear of the bonnet to accommodate the turbocharger.
    • Central bonnet badge reintroduced after Blenheim 1
  • Interior
    • Blenheim 4 has no air-conditioning outlet grille under the centre dash (behind the transmission lever). Dash and instrument binnacle trimmed in leather, not black PVC.
  • Roof
    • Blenheim 4 has no rain gutters.

Car by Car

  • Type 407
    • Twin exhaust system
    • Grille styled like aircraft intake cowling; contains horizontal trim strip with lower loop, surmounted by Pegasus badge
    • Bumper overriders
    • Separate rear lights
    • Gears selected via dashboard buttons
  • Type 408
    • Wide, squarish grille, horizontally slatted, angled a little downward
    • 5" inner headlamps recessed into grille
    • Front wing panel is flat and vertical
    • No bumper overriders
    • Oval rear light clusters
    • Pegasus badge just below front door pillar
    • To side, full-length upper chrome trim strip, separate lower strip from apex of wheel arch to 2/3 way across door
    • Roundel on front centre of bonnet
    • No side indicators
    • Gears selected via dashboard buttons
  • Type 409
    • Grille now narrower at the bottom, which is slightly rounded, giving a more gracious, trapezoidal appearance
    • Side indicator repeaters just behind headlamps on front wings
    • Front wing, side trim and bonnet roundel as for Type 408
    • Gears selected via dashboard buttons
  • Type 410
    • Lower trim strip is longer than 408/9 and joined to top one
    • Smile-shaped trim strip accents the lower curves of the grille aperture on early cars
    • Front wing now sculpted around headlamp, bringing side-light cluster further forward
    • Bonnet roundel as for 409 and 408
    • Side indicator repeater at front of wing
    • Trapezoidal grille, horizontal chrome strips, inner headlamps recessed, straighter top than 409, widest at top
    • Floor-mounted gear lever
  • Type 411
    • Single side trim strip; no Pegasus logo
    • Side indicators at rear of wing, near the door
    • Rear wings without "finned" appearance of earlier models
    • Grille contains central Bristol badge; again trapezoidal but now widest at the bottom; inner headlamps now stand proud of the grille
    • Bristol badge on boot lid
  • Type 411 Series 2
    • Speedometer marked in kilometres
    • Door lock moved into door panel
  • Type 411 Series 3
    • Two pairs of 7" headlamps
    • Rectangular chrome grille with concentric rectangular pattern around a central Bristol badge
    • Exhausts "siamized", i.e. two pairs of double tailpipes
    • Side trim replaced with paint line
    • Front indicators set into the bumper
    • Oval rear light clusters
  • Type 411 Series 4
    • As Series 3, but rear light clusters are rectangular
  • Type 411 Series 5
    • As Series 4, but grille now black, not chrome
    • Rearguard fog light
  • Type 412 Series 1
    • Angular Zagato-bodied convertible
    • Front doors have no frame round the window and no bar visible above the door when the targa top comes out
    • Button on exterior door handle to raise window
    • No headrests
    • Pegasus badge on the radiator grille
  • Type 412 Series 2
    • Angular Zagato-bodied convertible (as Series 1)
    • frame round front door windows and bar above
    • Removable targa top
    • Headrests
    • Seats with horizontal bands to the seat and rear
    • Coloured enamel Bristol badge on radiator grille
  • Types 603S, 603E
    • Two pairs of 7" headlamps
    • Large, rectangular, steeply raked rear window
    • No air-vent louvres above and slightly behind rear wheel arches
  • Type 603S2
    • Air-vent louvres above and slightly behind rear wheel arches
    • No chrome studs on bumpers
  • Beaufighter
    • Angular Zagato-bodied convertible (similar to 412)
    • Single exhaust
    • Bulge in bonnet (to accommodate turbocharger)
  • Britannia
    • Headlamps combined into rectangular twin units
    • Rubber bumpers with chrome strip
  • Brigand
    • As Britannia, but with bonnet bulge to accommodate turbocharger, and
    • Single exhaust tailpipe
  • Blenheim
    • Bumpers integrated into body
    • Separate small twin headlamp sets
    • Compact grille area (scarcely taller than the number-plate) with central coloured enamel Bristol badge
  • Blenheim 4
    • Instrument binnacle, steering wheel and dashboard top finished in leather, not black PVC
    • No interior air conditioning grille in central fascia (behind transmission lever)
    • No rain gutters on roof edging
  • Fighter
    • Two-seater
    • Gull-wing doors
    • Fast