My Car Quest

July 21, 2024

“Wacky” Arnolt Built A Great Car – The Arnolt-Bristol

by Mike –

The red 1956 Arnolt-Bristol DeLuxe Roadster by Bertone below is being auctioned by RM Auctions in August 2014 in Monterey.


You may be thinking – but what is an Arnolt-Bristol?

Arnolt-Bristol Background

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


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.



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.


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.


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

Arnolt-Bristol Bolide advertisement

Arnolt-Bristol logo

“Wacky” Arnolt Built A Great Car - The Arnolt-Bristol
Article Name
“Wacky” Arnolt Built A Great Car - The Arnolt-Bristol
“Wacky” Arnolt made fast race cars that were also beautiful street cars - the Arnolt-Bristol.


  1. Dan Rinker says

    I saw an Arnolt MG “disappear” from an eBay listing a little over a year ago. It was disassembled, and apparently its restoration was interrupted and the car brought back home. I feel the way it was “unlisted” before its time was up that a savvy restorer might be involved! I believe that it was a hardtop coupe, and I can’t wait for it to reappear!

  2. That Bristol engine made it way into a lot of cool cars

    • Including some AC Ace sports cars, since several engines were available. The choices, along with said Bristol/BMW engine also included the AC engine–standard, I assume–and a Ford 2.6 liter straight six.

  3. Some history on where he got his nickname…

    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.

    These are fabulous cars that, despite their tall and skinny appearance, handle very well, and the Bristol engine hums a lovely tune when it’s working hard…

    • Robert K Bryant says

      In the 60’s I had an Arnolt boat trailer. It was made in north central Indiana for small boats…maybe in Warsaw. The suspension was two rubber cylinders faced on each end with round metal plates. The rubber would flex or twist absorbing the bumps in the road. One failed and my father-in-law had business with the company. They said the two he picked up were the last in the inventory!

      A friend of mine was an extremely talented mechanic and he said he had worked for Whacky in Chicago. Duane said he was working on an isolated upper floor and had country music playing on a radio. Whacky turned off the radio when he heard it. Later Duane had the country music playing and Whacky turned off the radio. Duane said he started picking up his tools and putting them in his tool box. Whacky asked what he was doing and Duane told him he was quitting. Whacky decided the music was OK!

      I remember a student that had an Arnolt passenger car.

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