Tag Archives: Carol

‘It should be a convertible !’ – Bristol 407 Viotti Convertible

Among the many tales in Bristol Cars folklore several are connected with the actor Peter Sellers who one day after filming at Shepperton Studio’s approached Tony Crook, Bristol Cars sole retailer, with a Buick asking if some improvements could be made to the handling, when Tony replied that he couldn’t do much with the Buick Peter said ‘Well I’m going to leave it here.’

Bristol 407 Viotti, Greenwhich

Eventually Peter Sellers bought a Bristol 407 coupé but he soon returned to Tony with it saying ‘It should be a convertible !’. Tony went to some lengths to explain that Bristol Cars did not make any convertibles, though in fact he was preparing one with coach work by Viotti for his daughter Carol.

Bristol 407 Viotti, Greenwich

Legend has it that Carol Crook was part of the London ‘in’ crowd and counted among her friends Britt Ekland, who posed with the Viotti 407 at Earls Court. Peter some how found out about this car and persuaded Tony to let him become the Viotti 407’s first owner.

Tony Crook says that Peter, notorious for regularly acquiring new cars and leaving them with Tony who had two mechanics and a service bay dedicated to maintaining Sellers cars, ‘drove it a bit – not an awful lot – and then we sold him other cars and we took the Viotti back’. All of this appears to have occurred before Peter Sellers had met the model who posed with the Viotti 407 at Earls Court his future wife Britt Ekland.

Bristol 407 Viotti, Greenwich

The unique Viotti 407 was very much a prototype, the suspension had not been modified to cope with the extra weight of the all steel body, the 88 other 407’s had lighter aluminium bodies, when Peter Sellers had the car, however when Tony Crook got it back the suspension and brakes were upgraded to later Bristol 410 specification, and his daughter Carol owned it for many years when it was seen with the registration number ‘AC 1’.

Bristol 407 Viotti, Greenwich

From what I can work out Tony Vaughan, seen in the Viotti 407 here at last weeks Bristol Owners Club Concours held at Greenwich, is the fourth owner of this car.

The one off styling exercise Viotti 407 appears to have strongly influenced future Bristol designs from the 408, 409, 410 and the early series 411.

Thanks for joining me on this Viotti edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Nailhead Power – Kurtis Buick 500X #3

Today’s photograph by Carlyle Blackwell was purchased by Ed Arnaudin back in the 1950’s.

Kurtis Buick 500X, San Diego, Carlyle Blackwell

Photo Carlyle Blackwell, Publised Courtesy Blackwell Archive, for sales enquiry’s please e-mail infoATpsychoontyres.co.uk and your contact details will be forwarded to the Blackwell Archive.

Bill Murphy’s #96 Kurtis Buick 500X seen in this photo, probably at San Diego in July 1956 where Bill won two races, is thought to be the 3rd of 12 500X chassis designed by Kurtis – Kraft who were well known for building successful open wheelers for the Indianapolis 500.

With a 96″ wheelbase the 4120 chrome moly tube chassis of this model featured 4 bar torsion suspension and was a variation of the KK500C Indianapolis car covered in a hand formed aluminium body secured with Dzus fasteners.

The Kurtis was powered by a 5276 cc / 322 cui nailhead Buick V8 which is said to have produced between 300 (Bill Murphy) and 400 hp (Carol Shelby), this engine featured Hilbron fuel injection and was connected to a Jaguar 4 speed gearbox with the aid of Zidar adaptors.

The car was raced successfully by Bill Murphy from August 1955 to September 1957 during which time he scored 9 overall wins and 18 class wins. Murphy’s employee from his Buick Dealership the Indy Car driver Sam Hanks was asked to shake the car down before races and then acted as engineer and crew chief for Bill during the races.

This car is said to have sat on Bill Murphy’s lot until 1979 and resumed it’s winning ways in 1980, since then this vehicle has appeared at Pebble Beach, Murphy never took risks on the track and the car is thought to have survived to the present day in original condition with no more than a fresh lick of paint.

Bill Murphy born in Alaska, was a successful UCLA dropout who built a huge car dealership empire which included Desoto-Plymouth and what from 1962 – 1965 was known as the worlds largest Buick dealership in Culver City.

Bill who was over 40 years old when he raced the Kurtis, which thought was capable of over reaching speeds 180 mph, business partner Shelby reckoned that Bills Kurtis was more powerful than any contemporary Ferrari or Maserati.

My thanks to Ed and Steve Arnaudin for forwarding Carlyle Blackwells photograph and to R Shelby and Coneptcarz for details about Bill and the 500X.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s ‘nailhead’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

28 07 12 PS My thanks to Pamela Blackwell who has kindly retrospectively given me permission to post the photo’s her father took.