My Car Quest

April 24, 2014

S. H. “Wacky” Arnolt And His Arnolt-Bristol Cars

by Mike –

In the early 1950s Stanley Harold Arnolt, also known as “Wacky” Arnolt, was an American importer of MG, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin and Bristol cars.

He started making his own cars with a Bertone design based on the MG TD chassis. He made about 100 of these cars and he also had Bertone rebody six Aston Martin DB2s which were badged as the Arnolt-Aston Martin.

Arnolt-Bristol Bolide

Arnolt-Bristol Bolide

Arnolt-Bristol

In 1953 Arnolt created a new model based on a shortened Bristol 403 sedan and engine with a beautiful body designed and made by Bertone. The chassis and the engine were based on the BMW 327 which Bristol had acquired the rights to after WW II.

Arnolt-Bristol

Arnolt-Bristol

The design of this new Arnolt-Bristol was modeled after the Bertone Alfa Romeo BAT designs which can be seen from the rear view. The bodies were steel with aluminum hoods and trunk lids.

Arnolt-Bristol engine

There were three versions of the Arnolt-Bristol: the Bolide was the race model, the DeLuxe had a convertible top and side curtains, and there was a luxury coupe.

The Arnolt-Bristol had some success in racing with the highlight being at Sebring in 1955 where an Arnolt-Bristol finished first, second and fourth in class. Arnolt-Bristol quit racing for two years after one of their drivers, Bob Goldich, was killed in a race in 1957.

Arnolt-Bristol

They did well again at Sebring in 1960 where an aluminum bodied Arnolt-Bristol won its class and came in 14th overall, another Arnolt-Bristol came in fourth and the third car came in tenth in class. Arnolt-Bristol won the Team Prize that day. They had success in SCCA racing but soon shut down and the company was closed after the death of Arnolt in 1963.

Arnolt-Bristol

In total Arnolt-Bristol built 130 cars from 1954 to 1963.

The white car shown here is a 1959 DeLuxe model that traveled all the way from Louisiana to be photographed at the 2012 California Mille in San Francisco. The blue car, a 1954 Bolide model, traveled about five miles and was photographed at the Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance in 2011.

Let us know what you think about the Arnolt-Bristol in the Comments.

Arnolt-Bristol logo


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Arnolt-Bristol Bolide advertisement

Arnolt-Bristol logo

Comments

  1. These are beautiful cars that you do not see everyday. I have never seen a coupe though – any pictures of one?

  2. Why was Arnolt called Wacky? This car doesn’t look wacky to me.

    • I am not sure why he had this nick name. Does anyone else know?

      • From the website https://sites.google.com/site/arnoltmarineengine/Home/history-of-arnolt-motor-company

        Arnolt Corporation was founded in 1932 by Stanley H. Arnolt II (1907-1963) in Chicago with three employees, manufacturing automobile lubricating devices. During that time Arnolt developed an inboard marine engine called the Sea-Mite, which was one-third lighter than other engines of equal horsepower. On the thick foggy morning of September 26, 1938, with one of his engines affixed to a 13-foot boat, Arnolt left St. Joseph, Michigan and headed for Chicago.

        Fighting waves and fog, he made the trip in four hours. Boatmen along Navy Pier shook their heads in disbelief, stating that he had more nerve than they did. He was greeted through the still thick morning fog with, “Hallo there, Wacky!”. The headline of an article that day in The Chicago Daily News read, “Wacky Comes Through in Fog; Crosses Lake in 13-Foot Boat”…and the nickname stuck. Thereafter, he was known as “Wacky” Arnolt.

      • Very interesting, thank You.

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