I have read with interest Mr. InmanHunter’s article in your January issue entitled “‘rue Bertelli Aston-Martins.” Not only are there a number of inaccuracies in this record of the firm’s activities from 1927 to 1937, but also I take exception to the inference contained in his last paragraphs, that since then a period of technical senile decay has set
in, due to attempts at high profits, in preference to increased performance.
Actually, of course, on sheer performance alone, all the 1938/39 cars outstrip any previous model.
Apart from all this, the article does a grave injustice to one of our present directors, and it is this which forces me to write this letter. As anyone with any knowledge of engineering must. realise, a complicated
piece of mechanism such as a motor car can only be designed and produced seriously by a team of experts, not the least important of whom is he designer draughtsman and slide-rule expert. I am sure Mr. Bertelli will be the first to agree that we at Aston Martins have been particularly fortunate in having rather an exceptional example of one of these “back room ” boys, right from the very onset, a d that due credit should be
given him for a substantial share in the design of these ears. I refer to Mr. C. Hill, who came from Birmingham with Renwick & Bertelli, Ltd., in 1926, as draughtsman, and became a director of
the present company in April, 1943.
Many of the early drawings done by him are still available here, and since Mr.
Renwick left in 1931, he has carded out all our drawing, stressing and design, first under the direction of Mr. Bertelli and since 1937 under my own.
Apparently, the latter regime has been an unfortunate one for the real enthusiasts —judging by Mr. Inman-Hunter’s remarks.
I can well understand the feelings which prompt such an outburst as I, too, am a sports-car enthusiast. However, it has always seemed to me that the thing worth fighting for above all else was to ensure the continuity of Aston-Martins, primarily for the sake of a number of employees who, like Mr. Hill, have grown up with the firm. and also for the sake of making a British car in which enthusiasts could take a pride. The question of high profits has never entered into This has been my endeavour, and still
is. In 1936 the board decided that due to the high figure at which our class of work must always be priced, it was essential that a sports saloon become our main model, even to the exclusion of open sports ,models if this Was unavoidable. Otherwise the market was too limited to enable the firm to carry on.
This poliey still holds good to-day, and I mention it in the hope that it may clarify some of our future activities. The point I wish to make quite clear is that we are not stagnating, as might be thought from the latter part of Mr. Inman-Hunter’s article—our ” backroom boy ” is still very much with us, and, unless I am mistaken, his latsst effort will pr4)5.c the hest yet. Incidentally, it will be the first completely new engine we have made since 1920, having been designed regardless of any existing jigs and patterns, h.p., or capacity tax. Perhaps Mr. Inman-Hunter should be forewarned that it will have push-rodoperated valves instead of o.h.c.—to offset this disappointment., however, the light-alloy sump (wet, please note) has some rather original corrugations for cooling purposes, and the general arrange
ment undoubtedly \III interest the connoisseur of engine design. In conclusion, I should like to add that
our technical achievements during the war, which cannot be revealed at present, have been considerable, and have received favourable comment in official quarters. I am, ,Yours, etc., for ASTON MARTIN, LIMITED, R. G. SUTHERLAND,
Feltham. Managing Director. Middlesex. [We are very pleased to be able to publish this honest and very justifiable letter from Mr. Sutherland. Sometimes the enthusiast lets his enthusiasm run away with him, but Mr. Inman-Hunter, while mourning the older-model AstonMartins, did agree that Directors Know Best. His article did not reflect Editorial opinion, and we can assure Mr. Sutherland that we greatly look forward to examining and testing the post-war Aston-Martin when the time is opportune.—En.1