Richard Gray’s Bristol 411

Acclaimed photographer Frank Schott captures the rare British sporting car on Northern California's historic Highway 1

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If you’ll remember from our 2010 visit with Bristol Cars‘ chairman and owner Toby Silverton at their sole dealership in Kensington, London, the rare hand-built cars are one of the more elusive, and certainly cherished automobiles on the road today. Built by a company that got its start making fighter planes during WWII, the high performance “sporting cars” are purposely made to epitomize understated luxury. While a good majority of the 150 Bristols made each year since the early 1950s remain in the UK, a select few have made it Stateside. And few are as handsome as our friend Richard Gray’s Bristol 411.


This past winter a rare oppertunity arrose, giving Gray the oppertunity to capture his stunning Bristol in an unforgetable setting. Rising early on a crisp February morning, Gray, accompanied by his friend, professional car photographer Frank Schott, took to the road with little to do but head north from San Francisco on the historic Highway 1. “Just myself, Frank, his camera bag and the Bristol. No pre-meditated thinking or locations,” said Gray of the day’s itinerary. “Just drive and shoot.”


The resulting images‘ allure stems not only from the sheer beauty of the composition and technique, but from the geographical context as well. “Bristols don’t get photographed that often,” explained Gray. “Not normally by an acclaimed photographer, and certainly not on the coast of California.” And while Bristols were designed to whisk away adventurous Britons to the South of France, the luxurious 6.3 liter V8 seemed more than at home on the open roads of Northern California.


With a bit of vignetting, contrast cranked a hair and colors perfectly saturated, Schott’s images seem nearly surreal—as if this isn’t really someone’s everyday car, and this wasn’t really just a sunday drive. But the simple answer is; yes, it is and it was. And this makes the images even heavier, which we adore. For a closer look at Frank Schott‘s photography see his site and our slideshow. And for a refresher on Bristol see our CH Video.

Images by Frank Schott