Bristol Cars was a small British manufacturer that was famous for being one of the most mercurial, obscure, and downright befuddling of all the small British manufacturers, which is a claim to fame. Despite declaring bankruptcy and getting new owners, though, it looks like they're still just pissing off people.

Bristol was always downright weird, that we do know. What we don't know is pretty much everything else about the company. It built 104 cars, but that was in 1982, the last year they published production figures. It stuffed Viper engines into offbeat-looking coupes with iffy construction quality, and then charged upwards of $300,000 for the priviledge of owning one. It was basically the Vertu phone of cars.

Oh, what's that? You wanted to own one? Well, not without the permission of Tony Crook, the man in charge. And how did you get his permission? Nobody really knows. Either he liked you, or he didn't.


It was even harder to get a test drive of one of the cars if you wanted to write about it. So hard, in fact, that when somebody did manage to get a test drive, that event was news in and of itself.

When the company finally declared bankruptcy in 2011, it seemed like the end to one of those weird experimental music pieces that goes on for 70 years and everyone insists you had to listen to but only in an Antarctic ice chamber that no one can get to but you just have to go.


Bristol was eventually reborn after emerging from bankruptcy under new ownership, with the main goal of restoring old Bristols and vague plans for a new car. For all their weirdness, though, the cars themselves were generally beloved by the people that did manage to own them.

Enter British lawyer Andrew Olins, then, who had heard that Bristol was restoring and modifying its older models. He wanted his Bristol 405D converted into a drophead coupe, and also if the company could put in an automatic transmission that would be grand as well, according to Her Majesty's Daily Telegraph.

So with a bit of a tattered old 405D he bought for £20,000, he shipped it off to Bristol after he said they agreed upon a price of £153,000 for the work.

But, remember, this is Bristol.

After about nine months, Bristol informed Mr. Olins that, well, you see, the work ain't gonna be done. Oh, and that £153,000 was just an estimate, who knows what you actually paid for.

Bristol claims that the hangup was not in lopping off the roof to make it a convertible, but rather the automatic transmission part. They say that the 405D was never built to accommodate a slushbox, you see, so when they said they would do it and agreed upon it and everything and then took the car to do the work and then waited nine months, they didn't really mean that.

Just a little misunderstanding, is all.

A judge ruled in favor of Olins, because what the hell, Bristol Cars, seriously, and a damages hearing is scheduled for next year.

Bristol Cars, may you never change.

Photo via Wikicommons

H/T to Lowell!