Bristol 412, the Rich Man's Firebird

You know what’s cooler than owning a Bristol? Owning the entire company. – Justin Timberlake
Ok, maybe JT didn’t actually say that. I can’t imagine him behind the wheel of a Bristol anyway, especially this fine 412 that comes rocketing straight out of the 70s with both T-Tops and a landau roof and styling by a box of saltine crackers. Which is a shame, because this is the sort of car that just exudes high-rollin’ 1970s style!; and also, the entire company is up for auction.

Think of the 412, then, as a rich man’s Firebird. A very rich man, mind you, but still of the F-body mentality himself. With the t-tops safely stowed in the servant’s quarters somewhere, and the rear quarter convertible top down, the aluminum roll bar sticking out of the side gives it the look of a picnic basket. Zagato designed the 412, in fact, using nothing more than the side of a Cheez-It box. If they could have, the wheels would be square.

They do look good in black and matching the convertible top, however. The hood bonnet stretches on halfway to the Falkland Islands Azores, perfect for painting a screaming chicken on it. See that cutout on the side quarterpanel? You guessed it—that’s where the spare tires go, in true Bristol tradition. Somewhere in between is a Chrysler-sourced 5.9-liter V8, but some models featured the 6.6-liter. To be fair, though, given Bristol’s bespoke nature, they’ll put anything in there for you—a 572 big-block, a Ford Windsor, a Rover 3.5-liter from something as pleibian as an SD1—but no diesels! What is this, Cadillac?

Actually, this and the Beaufighter it evolved into—with quad square headlights—were the only targa toppers Bristol ever built. Maybe if they had gotten Tawny Kitaen to writhe around on the hood, sales figures would have been different. Hell, get the entire Hawaiian Tropic team on there, they’ll fit.
Bristol built the 412 well into the 1980s, even matching the 412 and Beaufighter to US emissions regulations to capture the vaunted cocaine-enthusiast market. It’s a shame this didn’t pan out, what with owing to Bristol’s categorization as a “specialist builder” and the additional requirements from there. They could have airlifted Beaufighters in a Beaufighter, dropping them onto American soil like the Marshall Plan going in the wrong direction. If you do buy the company, prospective bidder, please make this happen.

Ever take one of those shots that's so terrible it's kinda cool?

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  1. facelvega Avatar

    I've always thought of the Lancia Beta Zagato as the poor man's Bristol 412. Simple mathematical logic thus indicates that a Lancia Zagato IS a Firebird. Whoah.
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    1. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

      Maybe the poor man's Bristol, but has far better aged than the Bristol.

  2. Manic_King Avatar

    Front end is quite similar with Opel Rekord type D
    <img src=""&gt;

    1. Duurtlang Avatar

      It's closer to the Opel Admiral B
      <img src="; alt="Opel Admiral B" />

  3. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

    Many Bristols are beautiful. Others, not so much. This is one of the others. Side view somehow says to me "customized Mustang II."

    1. Joe Btfsplk Avatar
      Joe Btfsplk

      Yes! I was trying to place the styling cues….

  4. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    1. Perhaps the world's most fantastic opera window – landau bar combination.
    2. Who is that reflected in the last, magnificent photo?

  5. Jack Yan Avatar
    Jack Yan

    I have a feeling Zagato did the 412 body, though I’m open to being corrected.

  6. Dillon Valesko Avatar
    Dillon Valesko

    It's not proportionally correct!!!

  7. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    Man, you can really rock the tall boots!