1954 Arnolt Bristol Bolide Spectacular Restoration with few miles since
Stanley H. "Wacky" Arnolt was a Chicago industrialist, who began importing foreign cars in the 1950s to the United States. Though sold as American cars, the cars were true hybrids, with British mechanicals, Italian bodywork, and U.S. sales and distribution, as well as in some cases final assembly and body work.
A fortuitous meeting with Bertone at the Turin Auto Show in 1952 resulted in four collaborative efforts between Arnolt and Bertone, involving running gear and engines from the British car manufacturers MG, Aston Martin, Bentley, and Bristol.
The final model-the Arnolt Bristol Arnolt came about after Arnolt negotiated with Bristol Cars Ltd in the UK for the purchase of 200 of their 404-series chassis and the 1971 cc, six-cylinder 130 hp engines from the earlier 403 model. The chassis Bristol supplied were sent to Carrozzeria Bertone where they received a highly aerodynamic body with a flowing design that allowed the minimal hood height to clear the cars' three single barrel Solex 32 carburetors. The bodies were designed by Bertone's new designer/aerodynamicist, Franco Scaglione (soon to be famous as the designer of the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. concept cars).
Arnolt created a racing team for the Sebring 12-hour race, and in 1955, at their first attempt, the special lightweight cars finished first, second and fourth in the Sports 2000 class, winning the Team Trophy, a feat which was replicated in 1956 and 1960. The following year they took second and third in class. In 1957 the team withdrew after Bob Goldich's fatal accident on the first lap of his first stint in the car co-driven by Wacky Arnolt, while a privately entered Arnolt Bristol finished fifth in class.1960 brought a final class win, finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in class, and placing 14th, 22d and 39th overall.
The cars were available in four body styles: competition—a stripped road racer; bolide—a slightly better-appointed road racer; deluxe—a better-appointed version of the bolide (side windows and convertible top, instruments mounted in a housing in front of the driver, glove box set in the dash); and coupé, with pop-up headlights. At least one open car was subsequently fitted with a removable hardtop by S.H. Arnolt. Prices as per a 1956 factory letter were $3995 for the competition model, $4245 for the bolide, $4995 for the deluxe and $5995 for the coupé.
The cars came with an owner's manual, spares manual and shop workbook, as well as a spare wheel and tire and complete tool kit. Additional items such as Arnolt key fobs, neck ties, ice buckets and Arnolt logo head scarves were available from the company. A wide variety of promotional literature, including brochures and postcards, was also produced.
All of the cars were originally sold with Bristol BS1 MkII six-cylinder engines; some have subsequently been fitted with other engines.
All Arnolt-Bristols were built between January 14, 1953, and December 12, 1959. The majority were built in 1954 and 1959. A total of 142 cars were produced, of which 12 were written off after a factory fire. The fire-damaged cars were used as a source of spares by Arnolt in later years. The total production included six coupés, and two aluminum alloy-bodied cars. One of the cars was originally right hand drive: the rest were all left hand drive. One of the cars never received a body, and was used as a rolling chassis for auto shows. This chassis is still in the possession of the Arnolt family.
Approximately 85 of the cars are still known to be extant, in conditions that vary from needing complete restoration to concours quality.
This example has an interesting history-the car was used as the factory back up race car on the race circuit- it is unknown if it was ever raced-but it attended the races-finished in British Racing Green with Beige Interior. The car was sold in October 1959 to Arthur Lancett of Continental Motors in Reading OH, "in the white" after being prepared for a repaint to Customer Order. The car was in primer with all the trim pieces and other bits removed and with the car as "kits"-Radio Kit, Chrome Kit, Heater Kit, etc.
Mr. Lancett did his best to sell the car taking it to various Races around the Midwest, but was ultimately unsuccessful. The car languished in the back of his showroom for decades until being spotted by a local collector and purchased in 1997.
Ted Bernstein bought the car from this collector and embarked on a complete ground up restoration to top show standards in the early 2000's. All the kits were of course still with the car and in excellent condition, the engine however was found to have been run a bit hard, so had to be completely rebuilt, as were all other systems and components. This process took several years due to parts availability and other delays. Dr. Bernstein planned to race the car in vintage event so added a modern fuel cell.
Since Restoration, the automobile has been shown sparingly, but never raced. This automobile has been properly cared for over time and recommissioned for this sale including the Carburators, Fuel Pump and Brake system were rebuilt. The car and runs and drives very well. No flaws were noted anywhere on the automobile. This is a spectacular example that presents as a freshly restored automobile in every respect.