History of the 1974 - 1975 Bristol 411
The Bristol 411 is a five-seater saloon produced from 1968 to 1976.
The Bristol 411 initially bore a strong resemblance to its immediate predecessor but power was now from a 6.3-litre Chrysler V-8 engine. Steering was via power-assisted recirculating ball, and braking via dual circuit discs with Lockheed vacuum servo. The front suspension consisted of independent coil springs and wishbones with Koni dampers and an anti-roll bar at the front with a rear live axle with a Watt’s linkage, but again with Koni dampers instead of the 410’s Armstrong ‘Selectaride’.
The Bristol 411 commenced production in 1968, the chief visible differences from the 410 being the deeper radiator grille, greater glass area and the reduction in the amount of exterior brightwork. Bristol fitted a limited-slip differential to cope with the larger engine, the top speed was 143mph with a power output of 335bhp. Radial ply tyres were standard and interior refinements included cigarette lighters for both front occupants and a new three-spoked steering wheel with air conditioning and electric windows as optional extras. The price for the 'basic’ model was £6,997 although the top speed was increased by some 10mph over the 410’s top speed. Bristol claimed the 411 was now ‘the fastest true four-seater touring car’.
In 1971 the 411 was facelifted as the Series 2, priced at £7,536 and gaining electrically adjustable Armstrong dampers controlling longitudinal torsion bars. In the following year, the Series 3 sported completely new frontal treatment with four headlamps, quad exhaust pipes, a more powerful alternator and compression ratio reduced from 10:0:1 to 9:5:1. The cost to the prospective Bristol owner was £7,795.
Bristol launched the Series 4 in 1973, fitting it with a 6.5-litre V-8 engine (albeit one that could be run on 3-star fuel) and a still lower compression ratio of 8.2:1. There was a slightly different rear profile, the radiator grille was further modified and the cabin was now fitted with inertia reel seatbelts. The price was now £7,795, but that price now allowed lucky owners to accelerate from 0-60 in 7.4 seconds.
The 411 Series 5 debuted in 1975 and came with a matte black radiator grille, cruise control and internal reel seatbelts as standard, although the price was now £12,587.
The 411 was replaced by the 603 in 1976 although in recent years Bristol have refurbished several cars as the ‘Series 6’, with specification to the owner’s tastes and power from a 5.9-litre V-8 engine.
The Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3 Bristol 411s are powered by a Chrysler 6,277cc V-8 OHV engine while the Series 4 and Series 5 have a 6,556 cc V-8 OHV unit. The standard transmission on all versions is 3-speed Torqueflite automatic.
There is arguably no such car as an ‘archetypal Bristol’ – each is equally representative of the marque – but the 411’s virtual disdain for the vagaries of fashion in its pursuit of engineering excellence is notable in the context of 1970s motoring history.
Bristol 411 owners should check that the carburettor is operating properly, for leaking brake fluid and for worn torque converter seals. Areas of the body to check for rust are the spare wheel and battery carriers, the sills and wheel arches, and around the chassis outriggers. Wiring can prove troublesome so it is worth checking the electrical system.
‘Distinctive’, ‘idiosyncratic’, ‘dynamic’, ‘practical’ – the 411 was all of these and more. It was also proof that automotive greatness was never in need of overt embellishment.
The Bristol 411’s alternatives include the Aston Martin DBS, the Daimler Double Six Coupe, the Ferrari 365 2+2, the Jensen Interceptor, the Maserati Mexico, the Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 and the Rolls Royce Corniche.