Aston Martin and LM10 book review

A history to set your pulse racing: if you consider yourself an Aston Martin buff, then prepare to be amazed. Gordon Cruickshank ups his pre-war knowledge

Aston Martin LM10 at Le Mans in 1932

Despite having had its mudguards hastily braced, LM10 finished the 1932 Le Mans race in fifth place

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Two movements have been clear recently in the car book publishing world – the rise of self-published works, thanks to the availability of digital publishing programs, and the increasing market share of costlier, lavishly produced volumes. These two streams appear to have come together with this book, which is privately published by the current owners of the car in the title – Aston Martin LM10, effectively the works development car for the company’s pre-war Le Mans racers. Not that this book has been created on a home PC: on the contrary it is professionally produced and smartly designed with quality reproduction and paper stock. Not bad value at £75 either.

They have also chosen soundly for their author: Jonathan Wood has garnered plenty of awards for his car books, not least the RAC Specialist Book of the Year, which we judges awarded him in 2016. This is as thoroughly researched as any of his previous work (even though he said after his last two books that he wasn’t going to write any more…). There’s a connection in that Hugh Palmer previously owned one of the super-rare Squires, subject of a previous meisterwerk of Jonathan’s.

That word ‘and’ in the title is significant: this is not merely a history of the Palmers’ car, important though it is in the marque’s story. It is very much about the people who created Aston Martin, and Wood devotes the first three chapters to the firm’s genesis as Bamford & Martin and its progress through many a financial crisis to a stable period when the Sutherland family took over. Much of the information on the company’s early days, garnered from AM archivists, is apparently published here for the first time. I’m not Aston-literate enough to pick out all that’s new from Jonathan’s wide research, but now I know that Lionel Martin’s wife was known as ‘Calamity Kate’ and that there were ‘Aston- Martin Boys’ before there were Bentley Boys.