The battle to save Bristol
Liquidation sales of archive material are planned -yet this might not be the end of the road
The fate of irreplaceable archive material — once located in ‘the dungeon beneath Bristol Cars’ famous Kensington showroom — is causing concern for enthusiasts. Yet there are also hopes that Bristol could yet be revived.
'WE CONSIDER THIS PAPERWORK TO BE VALUELESS BUT HISTORICALLY PRICELESS'
Bristol collapsed in January for the second time in a decade, and several liquidation sales have since been arranged. The first is of three private treaty lots: a complete 2016 ‘Project Pinnacle’ Bullet prototype with eight Morgan V8 rolling chassis; 5000sq ft of spare parts; and the Bristol Cars Ltd archives. The second will be an online auction of ephemera, with lots ranging from the Chrysler V8-powered 1964 Bullet recommissioned in the Toby Silverton era, via a Type-400, a unique Type-603 convertible project (created by the Patchway factory’s last workshop manager, Jeff Marsh, at defunct specialist Brabazon Motors), and right down to wooden body bucks, workshop manuals and even keyrings.
However, the material from ‘the dungeon’ is the most sensitive. Stefan Cembrowicz, chair of the Bristol Owners’ Heritage Trust (BOHT), told Octane: ‘There are stacks of filing cabinets and plan chests with factory correspondence, blueprints, plans and drawings. The liquidators estimate £50,000 value for all the historic paperwork — but how do you put a price on this? The BOHT is determined to rescue all these documents from the sad detritus of this failed enterprise. We consider this paperwork to be valueless but historically priceless.’
The BOHT saved a large amount of archive material when Bristol Cars Ltd went bust in 2011. That material is professionally stored at the City of Bristol Archive, and is accessible to the public. The collection includes the Ted Ashman archive, which has assisted in the publication of four books on the marque.
Cembrowicz added: ‘We are determined to salvage all the heritage documents, and financial support is pouring in from members of the Bristol Owners’ Club, the Bristol Owners’ & Drivers’ Association [BODA], and the Bristol Owners’ Club of Australia.’
Any enthusiasts who would like to help the BOHT save the Bristol archive can do so by visiting its website: bristolownersht.com. Click on ‘About Us’ and then ‘Support Us’.
As Octane went to press, the catalogue listed 932 lots and the auction was scheduled to start on 19 August and to close on 2 September. It’s being hosted online by bidspotter.co.uk.
Frost Group Ltd has been appointed joint liquidators by the official receiver for both Bristol Cars Ltd and Bristol Cars Services Ltd.
Assets realisations are being managed by Frost Groups appointees, Wyles Hardy & Co, which undertook a similar role in 2011. MD Jeremy Frost said: ‘There has been a swell of interest regarding these assets from various parts of the world, whether private collectors or businesses looking to secure parts for onward sale.’
Funds raised will go to investigating BCLs affairs, so that creditors, including HMRC, should receive a return. However, Wyles Hardy also announced: ‘In all likelihood Wyles Hardy & Co will be instructed to realise the intellectual property right assets. This would be in addition to the assets we are currently marketing on behalf of the liquidators of BCL and BCSL. As a result the dates for final offers for the inventory of stock parts new and used, the drawings library and archive will be moved back pending confirmation of instruction.’
This development has arisen due to the liquidation of Kamkorp Ltd — which indirectly owned BCL and BCSL’s intellectual property rights (IPR) — and the reported personal bankruptcy of Kamkorp Ltd’s director, Kamal Siddiqi. Previously the timescale prohibited the co-operation of the liquidators to sell both Bristol Cars’ assets and its IPR.
It is early days, but if the sale of BCLs IPR does go ahead, it could form a fourth private treaty lot. And that means parties interested in resurrecting the esoteric Bristol marque may be able to do so. Watch this space...
Above and below left Sale includes whole cars, chassis and spares, and enthusiasts are banding together with a plan to salvage the archive material.