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Bristol 412 and Beaufighter (1975 - 1993)

Last updated 19 March 2013

Open-topped motoring, V8 soundtrack, Beaufighter's turbocharged urge
Most people would say it looks like a breeze block


The Bristol 412 had an all-new look penned by Zagato. It was a bit of a shock after years of elegance, but the square-rigged styling and targa-top chimed with the times it was launched in, even if the Chrysler V8 that powered it didn't. Whatever you might think of the 412, it certainly continued to sell for Bristol, even building up a modest waiting list.

The quality was as deep rooted as ever, and the chassis was straight from the tried-and-tested 411, although the targa roof panel was a genuine innovation for the company. The 6.6-litre V8 was downsized to 5.9 litres in the late '70s, but the grunt remained intact.

In March 1980, Bristol unveiled the Beaufighter. It was an interesting one, this, as although it was yet another revision of the continuously-evolving model line, the Beaufighter had rather more power than the 412 it was based upon. The secret was, of course, turbocharging, and Bristol was an early adopter. When the Beaufighter appeared, many manufacturers were still trying to make forced induction work.

Although Bristol was coy about power figures, or lending out test cars, the performance had leapt forwards – 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds with a top speed of 150mph.

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