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.’
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.
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.
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’.
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 !