1956 Arnolt-Bristol Coupe

The greatest attraction of the car is that it is ideal for vintage tours and
rallies, offering protection from the elements and reasonable luggage space

In 1955, Road & Track described the Arnolt-Bristol as “American designed, British powered and Italian styled.” Offered as a coupe or roadster, it combined the talents of designer Arnolt from Chicago, the car division of Bristol Aircraft in England, and the body-building talents of Bertone in Italy.

The coupe, like the roadster, was powered by a 130-hp, overhead-valve, inline 6-cylinder engine, fitted with three Solex carburetors. The Arnolt- Bristol was capable of a 0-60 time in the nine second-range, a standing start quarter mile of 17.2 seconds at 82 mph, and an estimated top speed of 125 mph.

The Arnolt-Bristol coupe was not the result of simply grafting a hard top onto the roadster. Although they shared similar, distinctive front-end styling, the front fenders of the coupe were creased, almost fully exposing the front wheels. The dramatically sloping hard top featured a wide C-pillar and large rear window, while a trunk lid allowed full access to the rear storage area. Most people find the unique styling of the coupe more striking, which was a good thing, considering it sold for $5,995 in 1955, compared to $3,995 for the roadster.

The Arnolt-Bristol coupe was the rarest model, and this example is known worldwide as the best of them all. Automotive writer L.J.K. Setright insisted only two were built, but others are adamant there were three and maybe even five. With a completely known provenance and history, this scalloped fender coupe is also known and accepted as the only original-bodied example to feature this unique fender treatment. It was purchased new by Academy Award-winning actor Lee Marvin from the Arnolt stand at the Paris Salon.

Records indicate the car was originally finished in green and red, but today it is resplendent in red with saddle leather interior. All the Smiths instruments remain in working order and the Arnolt aftermarket wood wheel has been refinished. The Arnolt-Bristol Coupe features chrome plated Borrani knockoff wheels, including a spare, and these are believed to be one of only three to five sets still in existence.

With minimal wear since its restoration, this Arnolt-Bristol coupe is a prime candidate for show or vintage racing. With unquestioned provenance, outstanding and distinct features, and worldwide acceptance of its importance, there is no better example than the ex-Lee Marvin coupe.