1956 Arnolt Bristol Bristol CoupeSOLD

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

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ESTIMATE: $200,000 - $300,000


$51,700 Sold

130bhp, 1,971cc, overhead valve 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"

Formerly the Property Academy Award Winning Actor Lee Marvin and the Only Example Fitted with Scalloped Fenders From New 1956 Arnolt-Bristol Coupe

Road & Track (October, 1955) accurately and concisely described the new Arnolt-Bristol Coupe as, “American designed, British-powered and Italian styled.” Offered as a coupe or roadster, the car was the product of the combined the talents of designer Arnolt from Chicago, the car division of Bristol Aircraft and the body-building talents of Bertone of Italy.
The Coupe, like the roadster was powered by a 130bhp, 1,971cc, overhead valve inline six-cylinder engine, fitted with three Solex carburetors. The Arnolt-Bristol was capable of a 0-60mph time in the nine second range, a standing quarter mile of 17.2 seconds at 82mph and an estimated top speed of around 125mph.

The Arnolt-Bristol Coupe was not the result of simply grafting on a roof to the roadster. Although they shared similar, distinctive front end styling, the front fenders on the coupe were creased, almost fully exposing the front wheels. The dramatically sloping hardtop featured a wide C-pillar and a large rear window, while a trunk lid allowed full access to the rear storage area. Road & Track noted in their report that the Arnolt-Bristol Coupe’s “exposed wheels, sharp-creased fenders give the car a taut, rugged look”. Most find the unique styling of the coupe make it more striking, which was a good thing, considering it sold for $5,995 in 1955 compared to $3,995 for the base roadster.

Walt Woron stated in Motor Trend (October, 1955), “What you can do with the Arnolt-Bristol on a road course is little short of phenomenal. It was my pleasure to throw it into deliberate slides on asphalt, on dirt, and on loose gravel. Never once did I become leery of the car’s handling characteristics.”

The excellent all-around performance of the Arnolt-Bristols made them a favorite among racers. Examples were still winning races in 1960, taking first, third and sixth in class at Sebring, securing the Team prize for Arnolt-Bristol. Other wins that year included a first in class at Bridgehampton, outright wins at Louisville, Waterford Hills, Corpus Christi and more.
The Arnolt Bristol Coupe was the rarest of them all and the example offered from the Ponder Collection is known worldwide as being the best of them all. The late Bristol aficionado L. J. K. Setright insisted only two were built, others are adamant there were three and some individuals have indicated that there could be as many as five in total. Regardless, it is established that this car, is truly the pinnacle example of them all. With a completely known provenance and ownership history, the scalloped fender Arnolt is also known and accepted as the only original bodied example to feature the unique fender treatment. Purchased new by Academy Award winning actor and automotive enthusiast Mr. Lee Marvin from the Arnolt stand at the Paris Salon, it was a natural fit for the legendary actor.

Records indicate that the 1956 Arnolt-Bristol Coupe was originally finished in green and red, however today it is resplendent in a beautiful dark red with saddle interior and a matching tan cloth headliner. Upon inspection, the entire interior is very presentable, showing only minimal wear. All the Smith’s instruments remain in excellent working order and the Arnolt aftermarket wooden steering wheel (fitted when the car was new) was completely refinished. Fitted with Borrani chrome wheels with knock-offs, a matching spare, handsome and well-appointed interior and exceptional chrome trim, this Arnolt is a true dual purpose example as it is well suited for both touring and racing. Most impressively, the Borrani wheels are likely one of only approximately three to five sets of original examples in existence, two of which being found on the Arnolts of the Ponder Collection.

A glance under the hood finds a powerplant that is not only beautiful looking but highly potent too. With minimal wear since its extensive restoration, this Arnolt-Bristol Coupe is most certainly a prime candidate for either show or vintage racing events. With unquestioned provenance, outstanding original and distinct features and a worldwide acceptance of its importance, there is no better example than the ex-Lee Marvin Arnolt Bristol Coupe. We encourage close examination of this Arnolt as it is peerless in every respect.

Reference Number 7589

as of 2/27/2007

Car 1956 Arnolt Bristol Bristol Coupe
VIN 404X3120 
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