cars, News

Bristol engine test cards.

We were delighted to be given  some 500 1950s works engine testbed cards from the estate of Tony Crook. Thank you to Carole Crook and Anne Marie Cadars for all their help to the Heritage Trust.

Most are of sports or racing engines, some of which  achieved fame or notoriety on the track. These  include Cooper and ERA engines FNS (Frazer Nash Sports) engines followed by Bristol’s own Sports range the BS 1 to 4, and culminating in the 450 engines as used at Le Mans and Rheims. To quote Warwick Banks “Anybody who was anybody in the racing world used the Bristol 2 litre engine in those days”

The later 2.2 engines were also tested on the dynamometer.

The test cards describe fuel mix, air temperature, type of oil, details of  exhaust and ignition, and power output across  the range in the meticulous style so characteristic of the Bristol Aeroplane Company.  Note that compression ratios vary from as low as 8.5 up to 11+. 

At the start of this period these engines were running on low octane fuel. Rationing only ended in 1950  and we had Pool petrol till 1953.  That is why your 2 litre Bristol has an ignition control on the dashboard to prevent pinking on the terrible old fuel of those days.

Simply raising the compression ratio, possible when high octane branded fuels by different manufacturers came out in the early days and competed with each other, would raise the BHP output proportionately. And the very high c/rs mentioned would have been possible for cars running on exotic alcohol based mixes. Nowadays most 2 litre engine are running on much higher c/rs, following years of fuel development and cylinder head planing.

In those days it was common practice to put the engine onto a testbed for tuning and setting of ignition, jetting etc and some engines are mentioned more than once.

If you have one of these Sports racing engines the Heritage Trust can supply a facsimile of your contemporary testbed card. Please contact Andrew Blow for details.

Ray Williams was one of the sports/racing engine line builders and would have worked on some of these engines himself. You will find a video of him talking about those far off glory days attached to this website as part of our video project. View the video.


Publication Achievement!

The Bristol Aeroplane Company Car Division

by Bristol Owners Heritage Trust

A treasure-trove of breathtaking archive photographs, the vast majority never seen before, The Bristol Aeroplane Company Car Division makes a major contribution to the history of the first Bristol cars, those with the firm’s own BMW-derived engine.

From its inception in 1947, Bristol’s car operation fastidiously documented activities at its base at Filton and beyond. From prototypes and design studies to factory manufacturing lines, from publicity images to motor-racing, everything was faithfully recorded by the company’s in-house photographer, Ted Ashman.

In its 400 pages The Bristol Aeroplane Company Car Division showcases over 310 of Ashman’s remarkable photographs, arranged year-by-year from 1947 to 1955. Only recently made available, many were shot on 10×8 or 5×4 glass negatives; as a result, the detail and quality is superb. With authoritative commentary by a consortium of experts from the Bristol Owners Heritage Trust, the marque’s early history is brought alive as never before.

The story of the Bristol-engined cars after the 1955 separation of the car and aircraft divisions is continued in a chapter dealing with the 406 model. Finally, an essay by the current Sir George White, son of the first managing director of Bristol Cars Ltd, recounts his father’s leading role in the establishment of the original car-manufacturing business at the end of the Second World War.

The book concludes with the Car Division’s original production ledger for all the Bristol six-cylinder cars, detailing factory specifications including chassis and engine numbers, exterior colour, allocation information and dispatch dates.


“The reproduction vividly opens up the detail in the images – you sense you’re stepping in for a test drive. The book’s beautiful design … is a joy, the large format and amazing image quality opening a window on Bristol history. If you appreciate beautiful car books, this labour of love is worth saving for.” – BOOK OF THE MONTH IN CLASSIC & SPORTSCAR (DECEMBER 2018) 

“Overall, this is a work of historic significance and a thing of beauty in itself. Highly recommended.” – MICHAEL W. BARTON, BRISTOL OWNERS DRIVERS ASSOCIATION

The photographs and their detailed captions draw you into a wonderful 1950s world of innovation and optimism, including the 450 racing cars, the Cooper-Bristol GP cars, the Zagato-bodied models and the Arnolt-Bristol.”  – BOOK OF THE MONTH IN OCTANE (DECEMBER 2018)

Download the stunning photos by clicking here!