The Aston Martins For Le Mans

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While we were at Feltham on May 19th we called to see how the team of “Le Mans” Aston-Martins was progressing. The engines were nearing final assembly and the first car was due to be completed that night, the other two being nearly as far advanced. They are D.B. II aerodynamic coupés, differing very little from standard. Naturally, upholstery and sound-proofing are deleted but the bodies are otherwise the same as those of the production model; they are one inch narrower and lower than last year’s cars, incidentally. The only details that differ concern the fillers. The quick-action radiator filler can be reached through a flap to save lifting the forward-hinged bonnet. The fuel filler-necks, which last year protruded through the roof, now end flush with it and are closed by sealing flaps which the driver can open from a facia-control via Bowden cables. Another bonnet-flap discloses the quick-action filler for a tank on the bulkhead holding a gallon of reserve oil, which can be fed to the sump when required. Normal Lucas headlamps, dual Lucas spotlamps and Lucas screenwipers will be used. Identification lamps are carried on the body sides.

The twin o.h.c. 2 1/2-litre six-cylinder engines are likewise virtually standard. A new sump, increasing the oil capacity from 1 7/8 to just over 3 gallons and having cooling fins along its near side, will be used. 1 3/4-in. in place of 1 1/2-in. S.U. carburetters are titled, the inlet manifolds being enlarged internally to suit. These, and a few detail “mods,” are all that have been deemed necessary to prepare the W. O. Bentley-designed engine for this arduous 24-hour race. The compression-ratio will be determined after tests at Le Mans. Already Silverstone tests with a 1950 engine in the 1949 Spa car have shown a fuel consumption of 14.7 m.p.g. on petrol/benzole, lapping at around 85 m.p.h. The axle-ratio is 3.5 to 1, in conjunction with the close-ratio, centrally-controlled gearbox—which has ratios of 1.1, 1.215, 1.67 and 2.46 to 1. Tests at Le Mans will determine whether to use the 5.50-18 or 6.00-16 tyres. They will be on knock-off wire wheels, of course.

The coil-spring chassis is, again, practically standard. At the back D.A.S.12 Armstrong shock-absorbers replace the standard D.A.S.10s, but the latter are retained at the front. A 72-amp.-hour Lucas battery replaces the usual 60-amp.-hour battery, while the capacity of the fuel reservoir which occupies the space behind the seats has been increased from 30 to 32 gallons. Alfin brake drums are used, in conjunction with Mintex M.14 linings.

The three cars will be painted dark green, brightly polished in contrast to last year’s matt finish. 5,000 r.p.m. in top gear would equal 128.7 m.p.h. on the large, 121.7 m.p.h. on the smaller tyres. The drivers will be Charles Brackenbury with Lance Macklin, J. Gordon with Eric Thompson, and Jack Fairman with someone yet to be nominated. John Wyer will manage the team; may every good fortune attend these green cars from, Feltham!—W. B.

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