Stanley “Wacky” Arnolt, a remarkable figure in American Automotive History, earned his nickname by solo-crossing Lake Michigan in a 14-foot boat through heavy fog, covering around ninety miles of open water. He built his fortune during WWII by selling boat motors, which allowed him to pursue his passion for automobiles. By 1952, he became a regional BMC distributor and the US distributor for Bristol cars.
In 1952, Arnolt’s visit to Bertone resulted in him investing in the company and initiating the production of Bertone-bodied Arnolt MGs. His next venture, involving the Bristol connection, led to the Bertone-designed body for the UK manufacturer’s 404 in 1953. Despite being based on a pre-war BMW design, the Bristol featured an exceptional chassis and a highly efficient 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine.
The Bristol’s engine, in D2 tune, produced over 150 bhp, and the Arnolt cars quickly made their mark in production sports car races in the USA. They achieved class wins at Sebring and Le Mans in 1955 and 1956. Although the works team disbanded in 1957, they returned to Sebring in 1960, securing class and team awards once more. Production ended in 1963, with a total of 130 cars sold. Unfortunately, a Chicago warehouse fire destroyed twelve of them, leaving approximately 90 survivors.
The Arnolt-Bristols came in three models: the Deluxe, the Bolide, and the Coupe. The Deluxe was a road-friendly version with bumpers and a folding top, while the Bolide was a more race-focused trim.