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Old 8th February 2017, 18:59   #1
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Default 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Its been a rather long time since some really exciting finds or discoveries have happened in our small circle. This is the story of one such car, that defied all odds to literally return from the dead. A 1948 Bristol 400, the only one in the country and perhaps the Continent. Owned by Amit Sapre since a few years, hats off to him for taking the plunge to restore what everyone else deemed unrestorable. The man bold enough to take on the task was Kaizad Engineer, his brother Nekzad and team at Niki Garage, Mumbai.

We did a little digging to find out the provenance of the car. After many dead ends and wild goose chases, it turns out a previous owner lived down the road from me. She is now 85 but had very fond memories of driving the car for a few years in Bombay and Poona. Her husband, she said, even took the car back to the works at Filton in the UK by ship to get some upgrades - probably to the rear suspension and woodwork we surmise. After they were moving out of Bombay they sold the car to a friend - who is 89 and also lives not far from me! He provided valuable insight most importantly with a period picture he took driving from Darjeeling to Kalimpong. He extensively toured India in the car and the only trouble he had was with the carburettors. While passing through Delhi he stopped at Allied Motors and ordered a new set of carbs which came quickly, including instructions from Bristol on the conversion to Solex. He also informed us that the car had previously been owned also by Holkar, and he had sold it to another smaller Maharaja in Calcutta but he couldn't recall who exactly. While in the ownership of him and his friend who owned it before, the car was raced in Juhu including 24 Hour endurance runs and she beat all the American cars he recalled fondly. All of this was only uptill the 60s. The history after that is a bit sketchy.

Its a bit overwhelming when you see pictures of the car as found. The whole story pretty much sums up in the before and after pictures. So lets get right to it!

Buried in years of rubbish and neglect. It took a while to figure out exactly what they were dealing with. The car was vandalized for body panels, the radiator and more, but surprisingly things like the hubcaps and sempahores stayed - probably because they were unaccessible. Would you believe the chassis plate had fallen off but recovered amongst the rubble? The stars really aligned for this one.

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1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!-old05.jpg

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After the excavation process began. A trailer had to be built to move it around, it obviously was in no state to be transported otherwise.
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The Bristol Club and members of course were instrumental in getting the project completed, with a steady supply of spares including some donor body panels since there was no reference to build a whole new body. Even so, the donor panels too were pretty rough and completely rebuilt. The complete frame was built from scratch. All the mechanicals remain original to the car, barring a replacement head which was sourced since the original was too far gone. The engine was expertly rebuilt in Pune by Capt. Sachin Ogale. Leather was specially dyed to match the original, and a bright metallic green colour was chosen, a little brighter than the original but stunning in the sunlight.

And all this in a matter of just 8 months...

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Last edited by karlosdeville : 8th February 2017 at 20:55.
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Old 8th February 2017, 19:31   #2
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Amit and Kaizad documented the whole journey and compiled it into a memorable book. They have been kind enough to share a copy with us. So here goes. Its amazing how everyone came forward to help out with the project in some way or the other.

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Last edited by karlosdeville : 9th February 2017 at 17:00.
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Old 8th February 2017, 19:36   #3
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Continued.

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Last edited by karlosdeville : 9th February 2017 at 17:02.
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Old 8th February 2017, 19:56   #4
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

The final result - there's really nothing left to say. Cheers!

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The icing on the cake was for the car to win the prestigious Resurrection Cup at last week's Cartier Concours d'elegance at Hyderabad. I have to say the crowds cheered the loudest for this one! Great show guys, you'll are an inspiration to us all.

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Last edited by karlosdeville : 8th February 2017 at 20:20.
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Old 8th February 2017, 20:44   #5
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

This car was one of the main highlights at Cartier, for its resurrection. This was a restoration of immense magnitude not for the faint heart. I had the privilege to see the final car. Truly outstanding work.

Must congratulate the owner for taking a brave decision to rescue the car. Kaizad for being brave enough for taking the project of this magnitude. True sense of team work with Sachin pitching for the engine.

What was amazing that this project was done in 7-8 months!

This project should inspire a lot of people to save some of the great cars still in India.

Cheers

KPS

Last edited by KPS : 8th February 2017 at 21:03.
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Old 8th February 2017, 21:13   #6
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

My God I am totally speechless. What an incredible effort. Hats off to the team. Great pictorial Karl as always.
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Old 8th February 2017, 21:21   #7
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Amazing restoration story by a bunch of very nice people. They took the time and the effort to explain the story to as many people as possible at the Cartier show. Wonderful car.
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Old 8th February 2017, 22:50   #8
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Honestly if you had showed me the before and after pics I wouldn't have believed it. Amazing restoration job....Sorry resurrection. Thanks for sharing it Karl! Can we have more period pics of this car?
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Old 8th February 2017, 23:04   #9
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Arrow re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Wow, what a fantastic story!

How in the world did they manage to completely restore a misshapen, corroded piece of junk into a concourse car in just 8 months ?
That too on so rare a a car.

Some of these restorations are incomplete even after years.

Kudos to the dedication of the restoring owner & the garage, and of-course all those who helped.

I would definitely have loved to see detailed restoration pictures & narration as you do for your car restorations, karlosdeville.

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Old 8th February 2017, 23:26   #10
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Just wow! This is dedication and passion soaring to dizzying heights! Very well executed!

Everyone who worked on this car deserves a Oscar equivalent recognition!
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Old 8th February 2017, 23:28   #11
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

What a great resurrection story, very inspiring.

Make in India; restore/resurrect in India.

Saw it first hand at Cartier and what an amazing looking car.

Last edited by Rehaan : 9th February 2017 at 11:59. Reason: Fixing punctuation
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Old 9th February 2017, 10:29   #12
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Hats off to the whole team. If you just show the before and after pictures, no one believe that these are of same car.

What is more amazing is that the whole resurrection was done in 7-8 months.

What a beautiful piece of art!

--Anoop
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Old 9th February 2017, 10:53   #13
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

I am truly speechless. Miracle workers all, not just to complete a car in 8 months but to bring back the dead!

Thank for the share Karl, very inspiring story.
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Old 9th February 2017, 11:57   #14
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Amazing job, probably will go down in Bristol History as the biggest restoration of any Bristol car ever.

Anywhere in the west this car would have been doomed as it would cost more to restore than buy a mint condition Bristol.

I am sure even in India the cost much have been massive ? Hats off to the owner and his dedication towards resurrecting this fabulous car.
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Old 9th February 2017, 12:17   #15
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Default re: 1948 Bristol 400 - Resurrection against all odds!

Immaculate job! For a moment I couldn’t believe that it was the same car when I saw the before and after images. It looks nothing more than a pile of badly rusted metal pieces when you look at the initial pictures.
To get it back to its former glory from its current sordid state is really commendable, time consuming and rather demanding job. It requires a lot of dedication in terms of mechanical and body work transformation. Just brilliant!
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