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janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

-163 Bristol 450 Sports Coupé (1956-60)

The Bristol 450 Sports Coupé was introduced in Meccano Magazine of July 1956, together with the new two-tone colour finish for the Studebaker Land Cruiser, no. 172. Like for instance the related Cunningham C-5R (no. 133), this competition Dinky Toy was also rather dislocated as reference number and catalogue presentation are concerned, as most competition racing models were included in the former 23 or later 230 numbers, the sports cars especially in the lower 100 range. No. 133 was in fact an extension of the American convertibles and no. 163 was surrounded by the traditional British saloons in the 150 and 160 numbers. Mike & Sue Richardson reflect this confusion in DT&MM (p. 135) by creating a mini category of ‘Sports Cars etc.’ in a separate small listing, including the scatteredly numbered Le Mans racers Cunningham, Bristol 450 and D-type Jaguar there. At the same time their images were distributed all over, the Bristol on one of the ‘British Saloons and Estates’ pages, the others elsewhere, between the Formula 1 racing cars. The 1955-1958 introduced group was a mix of Le Mans sports cars and true Formula-1 racing cars.

The looks of this model, characterized by the low sleek aerodynamic body, the flat, hidden head lamps, and the remarkable pair of tail fins makes it a bit eccentric. The designers of this Dinky Toy managed to realize those pronounced shapes in one casting piece only. However, compared with related, similar models with a wide, bulging waist, and a narrower, recessed base below, this model has a remarkable low weight of 58 grams (compare the Connaught 93 g., or the D-type Jaguar 88 g.). This is because on this model the lower part of the body is not recessed enough (as it should have been, comparing the real one). If this were done, more metal would have been needed to fill the model’s sides and consequently the model would have been heavier, perhaps slightly lighter than the other ones but not with the present significant difference in weight.

Although the production period of this 1/45 scale model was not very long – 1956-1960 – the Bristol is rather common. No variations do occur either, except for the trivial change of the small black smooth tyres, to be replaced by treaded ones in the course of 1957 (most probably recorded on the assy, job no. 7897 as: 27 August 1957 -  in their GBofDT the Richardsons apparently erroneously noted: 27 August 1954). Colour, casting, wheels and base plate remained the same.

The factory drawings known are:

Job no. 7897 Bristol 450 side + aerial elevs. (assy) d.d. 30-08-1954, additions up to 30-04-1959, signed F.T.R.

Job no. 7898 Body for Bristol 450 (large) d.d. 21-07-1954.

Job no. 7899 Base for Bristol 450 d.d. 22-07-1954, signed F.T.R.

Two types of boxes are known, the familiar mid-1950s yellow end flaps box with illustrations on both sides (no italic lettering) and a plain yellow end flaps box with the brand name in large straight lettering only. 

De real Bristol 450 Sports Coupé took part in the 1953 and 1954 Le Mans 24-hours races and other contemporary events. In fact three cars, numbered 33, 34 en 35 took part at Le Mans 1954. They finished at three adjoining places respectively: 8, 9 and 7. According to Meccano Magazine of July 1956 the Bristol held six international ‘E’ class records at that moment. The 450 was developed by the 1947 established car division of Bristol Aeroplane Co. Ltd. David Wright in Model Collector (‘Great British Bristols’, July 2004, p. 50-51): ‘ … in 1955, when the coupe bodies had been destroyed, the cars re-appeared as modified 155 bhp open bodywork 450 roadsters and proved the marque’s durability by achieving a 1-2-3 class win’. Perhaps because of this short life so few pictures are known of the real Bristol 450 sports coupé. Besides this Bristol two more Bristol products were modelled by Meccano in the 1950s: no. 23g Cooper Bristol Racing Car (1953-1964) and no. 998 Bristol Britannia Airliner (1959-1965).

The model’s racing number 27 on the white discs has nothing to do with reality. It’s a random choice, positioned between the number 26 of the contemporary light blue Dinky Toys no. 106 Sunbeam Alpine Sports and number 28 of the white no. 108 MG Midget Sports. The real Le Mans racing numbers – as partly stated above already – were 38 (1953) 33, 34 and 35 (1954).

Wright and others qualify the model as a ‘perfect replica’. It is really a fine replica indeed, but with a slightly too straight lower waist, as argued above.

As ever, corrections and additions very welcome! Kind regards, Jan

Some links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_450

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_24_Hours_of_Le_Mans

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_24_Hours_of_Le_Mans

 

Fred7A
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DTCA Member

Thanks for an interesting article, Jan.  Competition cars is a subject I know very little about, but this is a car I always found interesting with its unique shape.  The bodywork was changed considerably over time.  The Dinky seems to be modelled as the cars appeared in late 1953, after the smooth nose had been added (the original front was less aerodynamic and the front wings dindn't cut in behind the wheelarch), but the tail is still the early shape.  As your photo shows, by Le Mans 1954 the tail had been made more rounded and less deeply recessed, and the back window is larger and placed lower down.

 

janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

Thanks Fred7A, I am always hoping for comments like yours! I noticed the different position of the rear window too. Your remark that the bodywork changed considerably over time certainly contributes to an explanation of some (though perhaps not all) differences. Kind regards, Jan