Bristol Cars is a manufacturer of luxury cars, based at Filton, near Bristol, England (see also British motor industry). The cars have only ever been made in very small numbers.
Bristol Cars was founded in 1946, created by the Bristol Aeroplane Company. Bristol and Frazer Nash representatives had visited the bombed BMW factory in Munich, and taken away plans for the latest BMW cars; these plans were subsequently officially declared to be war reparations. BMW engineer Fritz Fiedler was also given employment at Bristol.
The first car, the 1947 Bristol 400, was heavily based on pre-WW2 BMWs. The body looked very like the BMW 327, while its engine and suspension were clones of BMW designs (engine and front suspension based on those of the BMW 328, rear suspension from the BMW 326). Even the famous double-kidney BMW grille was carried over intact.
Until 1961 all Bristols cars used evolutions of the 6-cylinder BMW-derived engine. This very well regarded engine also powered a number of sports and racing cars, including all post-war Frazer Nash cars (apart from a few prototypes), some ACss, some Lotus and Cooper racing cars, and several others. In 1961, with the launch of the Bristol 407, the company switched to large Chrysler V8 engines, which were more suitable for the increasingly heavy cars. All post-1961 Bristols including the current Blenheim and planned Fighter models use Chrysler engines.
Since 1960, the company has been owned by former racing driver Tony Crook -- he took over the share of his partner Sir George White in 1973.