1956 Arnolt Bristol Bristol Rudge Wheel RoadsterSOLD

RM Auctions - The Ponder Collection - Texas - April 20-21st, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $150,000 - $250,000


$195,250 Sold

130bhp 1,971cc inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with wishbone and traverse-mounted leaf spring, torsion bars to rear live axle, four-wheel Alfin drum brakes. Wheelbase: 96"

One of Less Than 200 Built 1956 Arnolt-Bristol Roadster

Stanley Harold Arnolt II, know by most as “Wacky” Arnolt, made a fortune through foresight. He bought the rights to the out-of-date Sea-Mite engine in 1939; the well-designed motor originally designed for yachts (that few could afford) was perfect for light military use and a huge government contract was granted shortly after the US joined the war effort. Arnolt proved to be a brilliant industrialist and soon had factories all over the US as well as overseas.

Although his everyday car had been a Lincoln Continental, Wacky was one of the many Americans after the war to buy an MG TC. He was so impressed he set-up S. H. Arnolt, Inc. in downtown Chicago and began selling a wide selection of British motorcars. Customers could shop for MGs or Rolls-Royces at the same place; no company was too small or big, Aston Martin, Morris and Bristol are but a few marques the Chicago dealership carried.

When in Torino in 1952, Wacky met Nuccio Bertone, which led to a partnership that would fulfill Arnolt’s life long dream of having an automobile built with his name on it. The Bertone bodied, MG TD based, MG-Arnolt was short lived as MG stopped supplying TD chassis when they switched to TF production. This left Arnolt and Bertone looking for a new chassis to carry the Arnolt name.

At the time, Wacky was the exclusive Bristol distributor for all of America. Bristol had been an aircraft manufacturer, but had seen an opportunity to get into car manufacturing using the prewar BMW 328 as a basis. Bristol was more than happy to provide the powertrain and chassis upon which Bertone would supply stunning Italian bodywork.

The result of the Arnolt/Bristol/Bertone coalition was the vivacious Arnolt-Bristol roadster, which appeared in 1954 and soldiered on until 1961. The BMW engine and chassis were sent to Milan and the completed cars were shipped to Chicago. Weighing less than 2,000 pounds, performance was brisk. The front wheels were independently sprung and torsion bars were fitted fore and aft. Bertone’s design was wind tunnel tested which accounts for the low frontal area and smooth, aerodynamic design.

The 1956 Arnolt-Bristol Roadster presented here is one of only 197 Arnolt-Bristol roadsters built. The red paint with black racing stripes, although displaying some wear, remains presentable. The twin bucket seats have been upgraded for additional touring comfort and are finished in red and black leather. The interior, like the exterior shows evidence of use, but overall still looks fresh and inviting. The dash houses a full set of Smith’s gauges and the original wooden steering wheel, complete with its Arnolt hub.

For weather protection, the Arnolt-Bristol comes with a tan cloth top, side curtains and a matching full tonneau cover. With triple carburetors, the engine remains impressive in both design and detail. At the four corners, Borrani wheels with knock-offs add plenty of rubber to the road, as well as style to the beautiful Bertone roadster form. Most impressively, the Borrani wheels are likely one of only approximately three to five sets of original examples in existence.

With 10,004 miles showing on its odometer, this older restoration bears the patina of an enthusiastically driven machine, which is appropriate given that the Roadster recently participated in a Colorado Grand event and sports a sticker from a Sebring Endurance race. Mr. Ponder also related that the Arnolt performed flawlessly not once but two separate times on the California Mille, an impressive accomplishment in itself. Dramatic in its presentation and an entertaining car to drive, this rare 1956 Arnolt-Bristol can be raced with fervor at either the next track event, or to the next car show.

Please note that this vehicle is titled as a 1959.

Reference Number 7588

as of 2/27/2007

Car 1956 Arnolt Bristol Bristol Rudge Wheel Roadster
VIN 404X3108 
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