The Bristol 409 made its debut at the Earls Court motor show in 1963, getting off to an excellent start, winning the silver medal awarded annually by the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) for its coachwork in cars costing less than £4,000 before sales tax.

In such a competitive market, the award was a coup for the company, not just because development had been carried out at the time of limited finances, but also because it flew in the face of critics from the motoring media of the time, who had lambasted the 409 for being blandly designed.

Admittedly following the dramatic restyle for the 408's front end, the changes for the 409 were markedly more reserved.

On the technical side, the 409's 52I I cc V8 was now mated to a much lighter transmission, while a higher ratio rear axle had been fitted that once again helped to improve fuel consumption.

 Another plus was ten mph (I6km/h) increase in top speed over the 408.

The Torqueflite gearbox was not only smaller and more compact, but because the torque converter housing was constructed in aluminium, it was also lighter.

The Bristol 409 now featured a trans lock for parking, which was operated by a selector buttons on the dashboard.

Additionally, each mediate gear could be held If needed for maximum performance, but also lifted the top speed to 132mph (211km/h). Fuel consumption benefited to breaking through the 20mpg barrier.

Bristol's engineering team also had tweaked the 409's suspension settings to offer a  slightly softer ride.

Power steering was also on offer for the first time in a Bristol, the system developed in conjunction with ZF of Germany.

With the significant changes to the 409 being mainly mechanical, much of the styling of the model was carried over from the 408.  Up front, a slightly smaller trapezoidal grille now featured radiused corners and was raised away from the bumper.

Combined side lamp/ indicator units were positioned just below the headlamps, with some production models fitted with useful side repeater flashers on the front wings.

As with the 408, parallel chrome strips graced the car's flanks, intersected by the trademark Pegasus emblem on the rear of the front wing.

 On a practical note, helping to give a more unobstructed view of lesser vehicles left in the 409's wake, a heated rear window was now standard specification.

The 409 came fitted with a radio 'with balanced front and rear speakers' remaining an option as were electrically operated front windows.

Potential buyers were given the choice of having their 409 painted from an increased selection of fifteen colours. There was also an option to choose from any combination of the hues for a duo-tone paint scheme.

As far as the interior finish, there was a choice of eight dyes for the hide, three greys, two blues, stone, black or red.

In 1967 Bristol introduced a Series 2 version of the 409 with power-assisted steering as standard, increasing the price considerably.

Reaction to the 409 was favourable, with the 'host of detail improvements to the mechanical side', coupled with 'some styling changes and suspension improvements', indicating that Bristol was 'not content to leave well alone' according to the motoring press of the time.  

Among the quotes applied by the Sixties motoring press ware that the Bristol 409 was 'one of the few real practical motor cars left.' that when been driven 'everything happens with such a complete absence of drama.'

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