Bristol Cars Ltd.

The Bristol Aircraft Company was one of Britain's most famous aviation companies between the wars, producing the Blenheim and the Beaufighter for the Royal Air Force. At the end of the Second World War aircraft companies were faced with a surplus of skilled labor and, rather than lay them off, looked at other areas into which they could expand in peacetime. Bristol decided to aim for the automobile world and acquired the rights to many of the pre-war BMW designs. BAC's car division began producing the 400 saloon in 1946. In 1951 the engines began to appear in Formula 2, usually powering Frazer-Nash chassis.In 1952 the first Cooper-Bristols appeared in F1 but it was Formula 2 which became the World Championship and the Bristol BS engine, being readily available, enjoyed some success, notably with Mike Hawthorn, but never much international success.In 1956 the Car Division became a wholly owned subsidiary of BAC and in 1961 Sir George White and Anthony Crook formed a new company to produce cars at Filton. Early Bristols were all fitted with Filton-designed and built engines but in the early 1960s Chrysler took over the engine supply. Bristol factory teams competed at Le Mans between 1953-55 with the 450, winning its class in 1954 and 1955. After the 1955 accident which claimed over 80 lives the company withdrew from racing but the engines continued to be raced in a variety of different machines most famously with Cooper and Lotus. Sir George retired in 1973 leaving Crook as the sole owner of the company.