Bristol Plots Comeback with Electric Buccaneer

Just months after the 75-year-old British luxury and sports car maker Bristol was brought back from the dead after entering liquidation in 2020, the automaker is already looking far into the current decade with plans for a new EV, as well as plans to upgrade existing models.

Back in January Autocar reported that the intellectual property rights to the marque were purchased by an Essex, UK-based property developer and investor Jason Wharton, with plans to first upgrade some classic models including the 411 and the relatively recent Fighter with 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engines from FCA coupled with eight-speed automatics. Intended to be the last internal-combustion models from the company, the “remastered” models will be built in small batches—just like everything from the company—with prototypes expected on the roads in 2022. The cars are expected to receive other upgrades besides the engines, including suspension modifications and modest facelifts, while keeping most of the original bits intact, but the main event will arrive in 2025 with the debut of the Buccaneer EV, which was previously expected to rely on heady Mopar underpinnings.

Now the Buccaneer is expected to arrive as an electric model, according to Autocar, following the ambitious plans of other British luxury car makers. One of the differences, however, is that those other British luxury automakers are backed by German auto giants. Bristol will remain independent, but promises modern materials and technology in the Buccaneer for its launch in 2025.

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The name Buccaneer may be sound familiar to those who’ve been around Bristol models, and it’s now expected to arrive as a four-seater in a nod to a number of other Bristols in the company’s past, if not the most recent Fighter.

Autocar reports that in 2022 the company plans to raise more capital and hire a CEO, with Wharton remaining in the leading role behind the scenes. The company is staying mum on where it plans to source the EV drivetrain for the Buccaneer model.

On one hand there is no shortage of off-the-shelf EV tech from suppliers like Magna Steyr, but those suppliers are geared toward manufacturers with relatively large annual outputs. On the other hand a Bristol EV does not need to be particularly affordable or have a large annual production run, since the new models will be expected to be just as exclusive—so exclusive they won’t come close to the volumes of future Bentley EVs at all.

Just how Wharton and the company plan to acquire EV drivetrains should fuel plenty of speculation over the coming months, as Bristol doesn’t have that much time before 2025 to produce a production version of the Buccaneer. The three-and-a-half-year gestation period isn’t lavish even by the standards of large automakers with billion-dollar R&D budgets, so Bristol will have to hurry in order to hit that target.

Perhaps an even more ambitious plan than fielding an EV by 2025 will be finding customers new to the brand. Bristol may find itself in the same boat as many other EV startups that have struggled to advance to production, especially given the fact that its traditional customer base hails from a very gasoline-flavored era.

Will it be able to cater to both the traditional Bristol owners and those seeking to spend a lot of money on an entirely new luxury EV?

We’ll have to wait a few years to get the answer, but for now we’re curious to see how Bristol can upgrade its classic cars with new Hemi V8s.

In what body style would you like to see Bristol develop an electric model? Let us know in the comments below.

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