Jean Simmons’ 1949 Bristol 402 drophead coupe heads to auction

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

It was in 1949 when the hit romance flick Adam and Evelyne staring two of Britain’s hottest actors, Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons, hit the big screen.

Granger and Simmons in ‘Adam and Evelyne’ | IMBD photo

The film, despite its strange plot telling the story of a veteran gambler who becomes the father figure of a deceased friend’s daughter, only to fall in love with her some time later, was successful at the box office and even won best comedy of the year at the International Film Festival in Switzerland. 

To promote the film, Granger, playing the male lead, bought both himself and his co-star/future wife matching 1949 Bristol 402 right-hand-drive drophead coupes. And now, Simmon’s coupe, registration number NPF 2, will be sold at Bonham’s upcoming Beaulieu Sale.

So how did Granger and Simmons get their hands on these rare Bristol 402 drophead coupes? Bonhams tells us the story:

“The Bristol 402 drophead coupe was even more exclusive than the saloon, a mere 24 being delivered between 1949 and 1950, of which it is estimated fewer than 12 survive,” the British auction company says in the car’s listing.

“Successful racing driver Tony Crook had been involved with Bristol’s car division from the outset. Crook won the UK’s first post-war motor racing driving a Frazer Nash-BMW, a victory witnessed by one of his biggest fans: Stewart Granger.”

When news got out that Bristol had decided to produce a small collection of convertibles based on the 401, Granger reached out to Crook to claim two of them.

Crook recalled: “He and his future wife Jean Simmons were about to star together in the film Adam and Evelyn and Granger was keen to his ‘his and hers’ identical Bristol cars.”

Jean Simmons' 1949 Bristol 402 drophead coupe

Granger’s hopes and dreams were answered when Crook sold the couple the first two models made: NPF 1 and NPF 2.

It’s rumored that Simmons was often seen driving her Bristol around Surrey before she moved to Hollywood to star in films such as Guys and Dolls, Spartacus and Elmer Gantry.

Before moving to California, Simmons sold her Bristol back to Crook, who swapped out the original 85-horsepower 120.4cid engine with a more powerful Frazer Nash-BMW engine.

Jean Simmons' 1949 Bristol 402 drophead coupe engine

Bonhams notes that in 2001, Simmons’ NPF 2 underwent restoration and an engine/gearbox overhaul that ran up a bill close to $134,400.

The car was the winner of the Bristol Owners’ Club concours in 2003 and was featured in Octane magazine in March 2011 and Classic & Sports Car magazine in 2014.

Bonhams estimates Simmons’ 1949 Bristol 402 will sell for no less than $210,000 at its auction on September 5 at the National Motor Museum in New Forest, Hampshire.