Bristol 406S

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The Bristol 406 was a luxury car produced between 1958 and 1961 by British manufacturer Bristol Aeroplane Co. (whose car division later became Bristol Cars). It was the last Bristol to use the BMW-derived pushrod straight six engine that had powered all cars built by the company up to that point but was clearly inadequate to give the car performance comparable to that of newer engines emerging at the time.

Compared to the 405, the 406 saw several significant changes. The most important was that the six-cylinder engine itself was enlarged slightly in both bore and stroke to dimensions of 69 mm by 100 mm (2.71 inches by 3.94 inches). This gave an engine displacement of 2,216 cc (135 cubic inches) but the actual power of the engine was no greater than that of the 405. However, the torque was higher than the smaller engine, especially at low engine speeds. The 406 also featured Dunlop-built disc brakes on all four wheels (making it one of the first cars with four-wheel disc brakes)[3] and a two-door saloon body Bristol were to stick with for a long period after adopting Chrysler V8 engines with the 407. The styling made the 406 more of a luxury car than a true sports saloon. It was, nevertheless, "a delight to drive".

The rear suspension of the 406 also did away with the outdated A-bracket of all previous Bristols for a more modern Watt's linkage. The 406 was the world's first production car to be thus equipped. However, the outdated front suspension of previous Bristols was retained and not updated until the following model with its more powerful drivetrain.

Bristol had commissioned Carrozzeria Zagato to build a limited series of lightweight four-seater cars on the 406S chassis in October 1959, six of which, plus two short-wheelbase a solitary two-seater 406Ss, had been completed by the time production ceased. Weighing 2,436lbs, the Zagato was a whopping 574lbs lighter than the stock 406 as well as 11" shorter and 5" lower, with commensurate gains in both acceleration and top speed. Rather than the 105 hp (78 kW) of the standard cars, these received a fettled engine with 115 hp (86 kW) and a stainless Abarth exhaust, which combined with the considerable lighter weight to make a spirited performer out of the 406.

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