Chicago industrialist Stanley Harold ‘Wacky’ Arnolt II fulfilled his automotive passion by becoming a regional BMC and US Bristol cars distributor by 1952. A stake in Carrozzeria Bertone in 1952 led to the creation of Bertone-bodied Arnolt MGs, with elegant coupés and cabriolets on the MG TD chassis. Initially envisioned for a US market seeking a luxurious MG, only 65 coupés and 37 cabriolets were produced out of 200 ordered.
Arnolt’s next venture, using Bristol’s 404 chassis in 1953, featured Bertone styling by Franco Scaglione. Despite the Bristol’s pre-war BMW foundation, its outstanding chassis and efficient 2.0-litre six-cylinder engine set it apart. Bristol’s engine, based on the pre-war BMW 328, featured innovative design and downdraft inlet ports, mimicking a twin-overhead-cam appearance. Metallurgical changes enhanced engine life.
Scaglione overcame the engine’s height challenge, creating a sleek sports car. Three open models, from the basic competition version to the fully equipped Bolide Deluxe, and an enclosed coupé were offered, priced between $3,995 and $5,995.
The Bristol engine’s tunability exceeded 150bhp, marking success in US production sports car races. After victories in 1955, the works team disbanded post a fatal accident but returned triumphantly in 1960 at Sebring. Production ceased in 1963 after selling 130 cars out of 142 due to a factory fire.