Quite rightly, as with other leading makes, there have been quite a number of books about Aston Martins. This latest title, however, is very clearly the definitive work covering Bamford & Martin, Bertelli and subsequent models.
A first impression of the book which Alan Archer, the painstaking AMOC archivist, has fully revised, might be that it’s just an extension of the fine marque history which Dudley Coram wrote back in 1957 (MRP), with the help of the late Inman Hunter and Fred Ellis.
While Archer has used Hunter’s data as a basis, he has revised the material so completely that this is virtually completely new coverage, very detailed, very valuable to avid AM followers – wholly fascinating.
Because Lionel Martin was apt to swap number plates about with happy abandon, the individual histories of the cars he made have tended to be very confusing. But Archer has now done the unravelling, so that a proper explanation of which car was which, what it achieved, in whose hands, and with what engine, has emerged. This will be meat-and-drink to true AM folk, but there is so much more that the general interest is held admirably.
The vast collection of photographs, many of them new to this reader, are another delight, admirably captioned, with personalities named, and much new material about them contained therein. Aston’s Le Mans exploits are an example, but all the other competition cars get due coverage, as do the production cars. The Le Mans results have a separate table, finance and production figures likewise.
This is a book that somehow contrives to breathe the very spirit of Aston Martin in its heyday, as one studies pictures of those cars in the factory trials, at Brooklands, on other circuits, at motor shows etc, and the text unfolds the story of Lionel Martin’s struggle to remain solvent, of how the Bertelli Astons followed, and how the Feltham works survived, always with interesting asides about the personalities involved.
This splendid book closed with the ‘rescue’ by Sir David Brown, the St John Horsfall race triumphs and the Atom of Claude Hill. I thoroughly enjoyed it all.
I understand that quite a lot of errors crept in, which Alan says he didn’t make. I have not looked for them, apart from noticing a caption spelling Ibberton hill as ‘Ipperton’, which was surely part of an MCC Exeter trial, not an Edinburgh trial? But don’t let that put you off – other experts may even derive pleasure from finding these slips! W B