Auctions and Brokerage
*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1950.
Prince Varananda Dhavaj Chudadhuj, Maidenhead, England (acquired new in 1950)Thomas R. Anderson, Belfast, Northern Ireland (acquired in 1956)Martin T. Brannon, Northern Ireland (acquired by the late 1950s)William J. Hughes, Londonderry, Northern Ireland (acquired by the early 1960s)Andrew M. Campbell, Dunnamanagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland (acquired in 1963)Alexander Matthew McCurdy, Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland (acquired by 1984)Brian May, Shirley, West Midlands, England (acquired by late 2012)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2016California Mille, April 2017Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance, Beverly Hills, California, June 2017The Quail Rally, August 2017The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, Carmel Valley, California, August 2017
Following important contributions to the Allied air campaigns of WWII, the Bristol Aeroplane Company retooled for peacetime and established an automotive division. The resulting Bristol Cars licensed the design of BMW’s hemispherical-headed two-litre engine, as used by fellow British manufacturer Frazer-Nash, and installed it in a prewar-style saloon, creating the Bristol 400. By 1949 this introductory model was updated and replaced by the Bristol 401 and 402 – closed and opened versions, respectively, which featured lightweight aluminum bodywork with integrated fenders and headlamps, a design clearly influenced by Italian coachbuilder Touring.
This sensational Bristol 402 is one of just 26 examples built, of which perhaps as few as 13 remain. According to original registration records, chassis 402706 was originally sold in April 1950 to Prince Varananda Dhavaj Chudadhuj, a Thai royal living in England. Prince Varananda had enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1942 under the name Nicky Varanand, and two years later he was one of 12 Spitfire pilots to patrol Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
After his 1950 purchase, Prince Varananda kept the Bristol for about six years, and by late 1956 the Cabriolet was acquired by Thomas Anderson of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Mr. Anderson and his wife used the 402 for touring in England and on the continent (confirmed by period photos) before it was passed among a succession of Irish owners. In January 1984, the 402 was acquired by A.M. McCurdy of Banbridge, who retained it for almost 30 years.
In 2012, this 402 Cabriolet was sold to Bristol specialist Brian May of England, who undertook some sympathetic restoration measures. Acquired by the consignor in early 2016, the Bristol was treated to a more comprehensive restoration by Custom Classics of Lancaster, California, which included refinishing the body in bright blue, the car’s original color. As this work was being carried out, the engine was rebuilt by well-known UK-based Bristol specialist INEngineering. Completed by August 2016, the Bristol was exhibited at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® and, after further finishing work, it was presented the following June at the Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance and then in August at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering. The owner, a true driving enthusiast, also enjoyed the car on the 2017 running of the California Mille and the Quail Rally.
Beautifully presented in all respects and richly documented by a wonderful file that includes period photos, registrations, and a rare, original workshop manual, this striking 402 Cabriolet is a testament to Bristol’s unique postwar automotive efforts. It would make an exquisite addition to any collection and should expect a warm welcome at any concours d’elegance or British car show. With so few examples remaining, the 402 is an exceptionally rare open touring car, with the inherent power and prestige of the venerable Bristol engine.