Its name once spoke of grandeur and exclusivity, but after 75 years all that remains of Bristol Cars is a collection of unfinished cars, spare parts and tooling, all gathering dust as liquidators prepare to sell off every last trace of the British car company. Yet all is not lost. In a twist, Bristol could be set to return as a manufacturer of luxury British cars fit for the electric age.
The sale of the Bristol Cars trademark was announced earlier this week, after the liquidators of Kamkorp Limited (Bristol’s parent company) appointed Wyles Hardy & Co to handle the sale of Kamkorp Autokraft Limited, holder of the brand and intellectual property rights—the trademark—of Bristol Cars Limited. The move completes the jigsaw puzzle of Bristol Cars’ demise.
Additional assets include the digital drawings and tooling, as well as the only working prototype, needed to build the 2016 Bullet sports car, the BMW (a nod to its roots) V-8-powered roadster that was created to mark 70 years of Bristol. And for fans of the storied marque, which began producing cars in 1945, a separate consignment is available featuring blueprint design drawings for historic Bristol models, and digital files for building the Bristol Fighter supercar.
David Fletcher of Wyles Hardy & Co, the appointed asset valuer and auctioneer, told Hagerty that there have been in the region of 80 serious expressions of interest in Bristol Cars and its assets. “They have come from all over the world,” said Fletcher, “and the seriously interested parties have suggested taking Bristol down the electric or hybrid route. It is a fascinating sale but a poignant one, as this is about the end of one of Britain’s best-known car makers.”
Bristol Cars and its five associated companies were wound up on 22 January, after facing financial pressure and winding up proceedings brought by HM Revenue & Customs. An appeal by now-former owner Kamkorp Limited, on February 28, was dismissed in England’s High Court.
After its appointment, David Fletcher and the team at Wyles Hardy & Co discovered many of the assets after investigating the company’s underground parking garage. It turned out to hold a treasure-trove of information about Bristol Cars and its past models, much of it stored in antique plan chests.
Car enthusiasts had been treated to a sneak peak behind the scenes of this sorry scene, after an explorer of abandoned buildings documented their visit and caught on camera many of the assets of Bristol Cars and its associated companies. In August, The Bearded Explorer, a video maker on YouTube and Instagram, took viewers on a tour of the headquarters and servicing facilities of Bristol Cars, which was relocated to Kamkorp Park in Windlesham, Surrey, in 2018:
During its tenure under Kamkorp Group, Bristol Cars was ultimately owned by Kamal Siddiqi, a U.K.-based Indian technology entrepreneur. The company had hoped to introduce range-extender technology to Bristol. However, it failed to type-approve the Bullet for sale.
Whether or not Bristol Cars will rise from the ashes remains to be seen. But in an age where brand equity is valued above blueprints, parts and tooling, the temptation to reinvent Bristol as a manufacturer of luxury British electric cars is clear to see—even if the way forward is littered by hidden hazards.