Aftermath

As the results became known, the world resiled from motor racing. The 12-hour Rheims event was cancelled. Switzerland, among others, banned the sport outright. The Bristol Aeroplane Company donated its prize money to the disaster fund. Perhaps this was not the right image to be associated with Bristol cars.

Another disaster had recently affected the British aviation industry: the failure of a number of de Havilland Comet jet airliners. An inquiry revealed in February 1955 that the cause was metal fatigue. Suddenly, the UK government was demanding far more exhaustive testing of the new Bristol Britannia aircraft, and this was proving punitively expensive. There was simply no more money for motor racing at Bristol.

And if that wasn't enough, later that year, Mike Keen and Jim Mayers, both regular team drivers, were killed at separate events. Soon afterwards, the Racing Department was disbanded.

There had been plans to create a road version of the 450. To reduce the vehicle's height, it was intended to mount the engine at 45° in a space frame chassis. A de-tuned engine was tested, producing 170 bhp at 6000 rpm, and could be revved up to 7000 in safety. But it was realised that such a car would appeal to only a very few wealthy enthusiasts; so this project was abandoned also.

With the disappearance of Bristol from motor racing, questions soon began to be asked as to the fate of the three team cars. Before long, a rumour had arisen that they had all been broken up, to prevent their "getting into the wrong hands". More fanciful tales involved one single car being preserved for a wealthy American enthusiast, who would fly to Britain once a year, retrieve it from its secret garage and take it for a surreptitious drive at dead of night.

That such rumours should have arisen is understandable, given that no 450 was to be seen again for over 35 years. Only lately has the truth emerged.