It handles very well, in fact, only suffering in comparison with later V8 Bristols, which understeered less and, from the 409 onwards, had really good power steering to mask the sensation of ploughing on.
It is also worth mentioning that the 407 was quite a lot more expensive when new than either the Jensen or the Keeble, topping £5000.
That figure included more than £1600 of Purchase Tax, which made these cars a hard sell at the time.
Even secondhand, the 407s were never the most favoured of the V8s. In fact, they were so cheap even I owned one once!
But that was 15 years ago. Today the 407, perhaps the best looking of the V8 models, has been dragged up on the coat-tails of general classic car prices and the increased awareness of Bristol.
Even so, there can few that have enjoyed the attention lavished upon this concours example (owned by Ian Warrener, brother of Barrie), which is the best 407 I have ever seen.
The Bristol 407 can be deceptively quick on a cross-country run
The Gordon-Keeble was the car I was most looking forward to driving.
I fell in love with the first one I ever drove 30 years ago, and while subsequent exposure to them has left me not quite so overwhelmed by their steering (why is there almost zero castor return?) and other details, I still think they’re fabulous things: beautiful to look at in the manner of a Lancia Flaminia GT, but with real urge from a V8 that, on balance, feels the sweetest here.
This 1965 GK1 is the 77th built, converted to automatic in 1988 by the late Ernie Knott.
I can see why someone might want to make a self-shifting Keeble, and the maker would doubtless have offered one had the car lived on.
But to forgo the feeling of absolute control over such formidable power and torque that the original hefty, short-throw Corvette manual gave you seems a shame.
Think about 72mph in second or, if you like, slot straight from first to top at 30 or 40mph and let the torque pull you to 130mph and beyond.
“At £2798 on launch, many speculated that the Gordon-Keeble was too timidly priced to make money”
By normal ’60s standards that must have felt like a jet eating up a runway rather than a motoring experience.
Thus it is appropriate that, as in the Bristol, there are aircraft overtones to the GK1’s airy cabin, not just in the appearance of its padded, quilted, seven-dial fascia, but even in terms of actual components, such as the airliner-type eyeball heating vents in the sills.
Curiously, it is the only one of these cars with electric windows (quick, powerful ones) and it doesn’t seem to matter that its seats are PVC-trimmed rather than leather.
After all, for £2798 at launch you still got a radio, seatbelts and even a fire extinguisher as standard, leading many to speculate, perhaps uniquely in motoring history, that the Gordon-Keeble was too timidly priced to make money.
The many dials and toggles inside the GK1 give it a distinctly aeronautical feeling