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.


We are delighted and proud to announce that The Bristol Aeroplane Company Car Division won Publication of the Year at the prestigious 2019 Historic Motoring Awards, selected by the experts at Octane magazine from a number of submissions. The judging panel included international experts, enthusiasts and naturally well-versed in the international motoring industry.



“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)