When amateur racer Bill Aston decided to decided to create his own Formula Two car for 1952 his intention was to use the 200bhp Küchen four-cam V8 engine. But only three examples were ever built, so Aston decided to look elsewhere.
The early AJB flat-four, without its swing valves, produced just 140bhp but had the advantage of a low centre of gravity, though the potential benefit of reduced frontal area was squandered by the Aston-Butterworth’s upright seating position.
Two cars were built — one for Aston, the other for customer Robin Montgomerie-Charrington — and raced in various grands prix in 1952 and ’53. Charrington appeared first in the 1952 French GP at Montlhéry and ran well before clutch slip forced his retirement. Both cars raced the following weekend at Chimay where, after promising performances in practice, Aston suffered a fuel pump failure and Charrington ran out of petrol on the final lap while lying third. Further retirements followed for both cars at Monza and then Spa, where Charrington was running seventh until the car was replenished from the wrong churn and began misfiring. After after another failure to finish at Reims, Charrington quit and returned to the US.
Aston came back to Europe for the German GP at the Nürburgring only to retire after two laps with suspected big-end failure. At Monza for the second time it was even bleaker: the AJB’s lack of power was exposed and he failed to qualify.
Asbn raced in 1953 but the lack of development frustrated its progress, and with the arrival of a new formula for 1954 the Aston-Butterworth project came to a quiet conclusion.