It started innocently enough, these things often do.
Rather than go home the direct route, a friend suggested I go via a side street. “Look up the second driveway on the right, under the tree. Let me know what you think the car under the tarp is”.
The peaked front fenders gave the immediate impression of an Arnolt Bristol. The owner was away running errands but his wife allowed me to sit and wait. He arrived home and, after a brief introduction, confirmed that he infact had two Arnolt Bristols. Both had been sitting under covers, under a tree, for a few years. “No” he was not interested in selling them or showing them to me. Not today, perhaps another time.
It took several weeks to convince him that we should unearth the pair, just to see how they are percolating. It was not a happy day, the results were ugly. It is amazing what kind of a greenhouse you can create when you wrap a car in plastic and leave it for a couple of decades.
Many years ago the owner had purchased the Arnolt Bristols as a husband and wife matched pair. Much fun had been had in the SCCA racing and rallying. Minor mechanical troubles had laid up both cars,. The garage was filled with “stuff” so the cars would have to sit outside for a week or two. Over 20 years had now passed.
Personally? My attic, basement and garage are scattered with these sort of projects. “I’ll finish it tomorrow, or next week”, and it never gets done.
What do they say? A body in motion tends to stay in motion – a body at rest stays at rest.
The challenge of important projects going unfinished is common and a determined friend of mine solved this in a unique way: His Alfa engine had remained un-built for years so he put it on the kitchen table where it couldn’t be ignored or forgotten any longer. Before long he was elbow deep into it (he was a single guy).
Back to our Arnolt Bristols. They were chassis numbers 404X3067 and 404X3033. A quick look in the books determined that 3067 might have a story. It said “Norwood, Sebring”
The hunt for the full history was on. After a few calls and emails to experts, the truth came out. The car was sold new to John Norwood of Rye, NY. He raced it with Don Vitali in the 1955 12 hours of Sebring finishing 33rd over all, 6th in class. This was the year that Rene Dreyfus raced for Arnolt.
1955 Sebring was a true battle of Titans. New D-type Jags with Hawthorn and Walters won, but ran out of gas in the cool down lap. The Ferrari of Phil Hill and Carol Shelby finished just 25 seconds behind (can you imagine!). Next were a matched pair of 300S Maseratis. With Sterling Moss and Lance Macklin finishing 6th overall in a 100/S Austin Healey, a stunning result. The entrants list reads like a who’s who of 50’s racing.
The current owner of these two Arnolts had been a race mechanic of John Norwood’s and after Sebring purchased 3067 directly from him. Norwood went on to race Lister and Bandini, manage Roosevelt’s Abarths and later race Shelby Mustangs.
Back to the current day and our tree. Once the Arnolts were out in the daylight the owner decided to part with them. They had just deterioated too far to consider holding them any longer. A new custodian was needed.
A well known restoration shop in Europe stepped forward. Both cars were trailered to port, containerized and shipped to Europe. A full frame up restoration ensued. Every part was rebuilt, restored or, if too badly broken, replaced. It was an immense amount of work. The results speak for themselves.
Arnolt Bristol 3067 has come a long way quickly.
It was rusting quietly under a tree, 18 months later its pristine!
For many of these great cars that have fallen into disrepair, it is NOT what they are that’s important (no matter how rough or rusty), its what they used to be and what they could become in the future. 3067 was a great car once and it is again. Well done!
1955 Sebring, as it was. Photos by Ozzie Lyons / www.petelyons.com
# 57 Norwood Arnolt Bristol. Can anyone ID the people?
#68 Porsche 550 Von Hanstein/Linge Porsche/Cunninham entrant. 8th OA/ 2nd in class.
#28 Ferrari Monza. Tarufi/Schell. 5th OA / 4th in class.
#61 Hidden in the background. Porsche 550. Davis/Candy Poole. 11th OA/ 4th in class.
1955 Sebring. No race number on the Arnolt, so – practise I assume? Photos by Ozzie Lyons / www.petelyons.com
The Arnolt looks so tall in comparison to # 42 100/S Healey of Jackie Cooper and Roy Jackson Moore.