Currently reading: Bristol forges hi-tech future
Its new owner is readying a line-up of hi-tech luxury models and closer links with Frazer-Nash

Bristol Cars, the recently rescued manufacturer of quintessential English luxury GT cars, will “definitely build new Bristols designed and built in Britain”.

So says its new owner, the British-Swiss technology entrepreneur, Kamal Siddiqui, whose Frazer-Nash Research company last week acquired Bristol’s assets and goodwill for a consideration believed to be around £3 million.

Indian-born Siddiqui is a qualified engineer who employs around 80 people in the UK and operates from headquarters in a Surrey stately home. He concentrates mainly on developing hybrid and pure electric vehicle powertrains.

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Frazer-Nash, flagship technology company for Siddiqui’s Kamkorp Group, built the 190mph Namir electric supercar seen at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, and designed and produced an extended-range electric powertrain used to power a Proton in the recent Brighton-London Future Car Challenge.

Siddiqui says he won’t announce any details of the revived Bristol model line-up until at least mid-year, preferring to wait until his new products can “start to do the talking”.

However, he is keen to re-establish the 65-year-old link between the Bristol and Frazer-Nash marques, which was forged just after the war, when for a time the marques had owners in common and used the same BMW 328-derived 2.0-litre straight six engine.

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William Chia, Kamkorp’s operations director, says that over the next few months his company will reveal plans to combine Bristol’s heritage with Frazer-Nash’s “cutting-edge electric and range-extended powertrains”.

It is believed the company will build conventionally powered as well as pure electric and hybrid models. “Mindful of Bristol Cars’ rich heritage and our responsibility as custodians of the brand, we are certain our technology will blend seamlessly and successfully with its traditions,” Chia says.

Bristol was acquired by aircraft spares entrepreneur Toby Silverton from long-time owner Tony Crook in 2001, and was taken into administration last month with debts believed to total around £5 million.

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The company has made few new cars for at least five years, concentrating on sales and restoration of existing models at its Patchway factory, close to Bristol’s Filton airport.

The Patchway works was recently closed by the administrators and its 22 employees were made redundant. The exclusive Kensington showroom in London — frequented in its 1960s-1980s heyday by buyers who wanted a ‘different’ and ‘low-key’ English luxury car — will remain open for the time being, evidently to sell secondhand cars and unsold new models. A recently opened service centre in nearby Brentford will also stay open.

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Frazer-Nash’s Bristol deal includes possession of and rights to a huge collection of Bristol drawings and model information. Siddiqui is believed to be keen to keep faith with existing owners, by providing parts back-up.

Chia says: “Owners and enthusiasts of the cars should be assured that, even though these are early days in our tenure of the brand, we are committed to providing them and their cars with the highest levels of quality, technology and service.”

Steve Cropley

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