The Bristol Type 603 is a car which was launched in 1976, by British manufacturer Bristol Cars to replace the 411.
With the 603 – introduced along with the Zagato-built 412 – the Bristol car underwent its first major facelift since the introduction of the 406 in the late 1950s. The classic three-box two-door saloon was replaced by a considerably more streamlined design with a much larger and more curved rear window. The manufacturer pointed out that the new car had more head, leg and shoulder room than any previous Bristol. The outdated style of door handle was updated.
The original 603 was offered in two versions, largely owing to the energy crisis which increased fuel prices so that affordability of fuel was no longer a certainty for those who could afford such expensive cars. The 603E has a 5,211 cc V8 petrol engine, whereas the 603S had a larger 5.9 litre unit, from Chrysler. The 603 saw improvements over previous models in its fuel consumption, being able to achieve as much as 22 miles per imperial gallon (13 L/100 km; 18 mpg-US) at around 100 km/h (62 mph) compared with the 411's 17 miles per imperial gallon (17 L/100 km; 14 mpg-US) — for comparison, as good as the Jaguar XJ-S. Both retained the same transmission and suspension as the 411, but the cabin had become more luxurious with the provision of electrically adjustable seats and air conditioning.
With the 603S2, as the energy crisis eased, all Bristols had a standard 5.9 litre Chrysler unit that was to be used for all subsequent editions of the car. The headlamp clusters were also set in a new grille.
603S3 (Britannia and Brigand)
The third series of 603, introduced in 1982 and continuing until 1994, saw Bristol adopt for the first time the names of the famous Bristol Aeroplane Company models for its cars. With this series of 603, there was a smaller radiator grille and more modern rear vision mirrors. The tail-lights were also mounted directly vertically, whereas on previous versions of the 603 the reversing lights were separate from the rear turn indicators and brake lights.
The Bristol Britannia was the standard version, whilst the Bristol Brigand had a Rotomeister turbocharger added to the Chrysler V8 engine and a torque converter originally used on the 440 V8 to cope with the extra performance, which saw the Brigand capable of 150 mph (241 km/h). The Brigand could be distinguished from the Britannia by the bulge in the bonnet needed to accommodate the turbocharger, and also had alloy wheels as standard equipment.
There were a number of minor changes to the appearance of both models during their 12-year production run, especially at the front.
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