I recently became aware of an Indiana-built car that is overlooked in 1950’s sports car history. That car is the Arnolt-Bristol built in Warsaw, Indiana.
In the late 1930s through the early 1950s, Stanley H. Arnolt II had various manufacturing operations around Warsaw. By 1953, he was an importer and distributor of BMC and was also the exclusive Bristol dealer for the entire country, based in Chicago, IL. About the same time, he established a retail sales and service center for sports cars in Warsaw. After marketing the Arnolt-MG for a couple of years, he conceived the idea for the Arnolt-Bristol.
The Arnolt-Bristol sports car was assembled on a Bristol 404 chassis with a 130-horsepower, six cylinder-engine, in Filton, UK, and then sent to Turin, Italy, for its custom Carrozzeria Bertone body. Final assembly, fitting of options, prep work and occasional paint and upholstery changes were done in Warsaw.
Arnolt-Bristol bodies were designed by Bertone’s designer/aerodynamicist, Franco Scaglione. They received a hood scoop to lower the surrounding sheet metal, and then incorporated sharply creased fender lines over the wheels to draw the eye’s attention away from the unusually tall hood.
The cars were available in three body styles: Bolide – a true racing bred sports car with few amenities; Deluxe option with side windows, convertible top, and adjustable seats; and a Coupe. The majority of Arnolt-Bristols were built between 1954 and 1959.
In 1955, an Arnolt-Bristol finished first in stock class and two others finished second and fourth in the Sports 2000 class at the Sebring 12-hour race. Arnolt-Bristol sports cars enjoyed additional success at Sebring in 1956 and 1960.
I saw David and Kathryn Hans’ 1954 Arnolt-Bristol Bolide Roadster at the 2012 Concours of Southwest Michigan in St. Joseph, Michigan. Their British racing green roadster with tan leather interior was an outstanding example of the marque. Their car won the Shore Magazine “Automobile Lifestyle Award.”
An early issue of Sports Illustrated reviewed the Arnold-Bristol on December 20, 1954. I am constantly amazed at what turns up in automotive history. I feel honored to recognize Stanley H. Arnolt II for building the Arnolt-Bristol sports car in Warsaw, Indiana.
For more information on Indiana-built cars and companies follow this link.