"Aston Martin 1914-1940—A Pictorial Review"

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“Aston Martin 1914-1940—A Pictorial Review” by Imnan Hunter. 192 pp. 8 1/2 in. x 6 in. (Transport Bookman Publications, Syon Park, Brentford, London, TW8 85F. £4.95).

Here is another book to add to the growing number related to the Aston Martin, so British of sports cars. The definite work must remain that published in 1957 by Motor Racing Publications Ltd. and in which Inman Hunter contributed a detailed study of the Bamford & Martin production and racing cars, front his expert knowledge of the subject. Now we have this excellent pictorial coverage, 169 black and white pictures, to enhance our memories of these great little motor cars. Some are new„ many of the pictures have been used before, but it is splendid to have Inman Hunter’s captions and covering text, and to see them all between two covers.

I remember so well letting two side-valve Bamford Astons, one used as a mechanical saw, escape during the war years, because they were priced too high, in the region of £30, and before that I remember being intrigued by the appearances of a young man who drove one of these s.v. cars all the way from Scotland to compete in JCC Meetings at Brooklands. So it is delightful to have Inman’s present picture-book to jog the memory, many of the Aston Martins depicted having appeared in Motor Sport down the years, and to hear that a biography of the late Lionel Martin is promised. (The author’s first AM essay appeared in this journal 35 years ago.) The Bertelli section of this new book recalls my visit’s to the Feltham factory to see the new Bertelli 1 1/2-litre and later going out in the TT Ulsters soon after their triumphant return from the Irish race. I have but one quibble; a caption says that the “works” 2-litre single-seater was destined to attempt the Brooklands lap-record but that was intervened. The author makes it clear that it was what he calls the 2-litre record they hoped for, i.e., the Class E record, standing to the credit of Gwenda Stewart’s Derby-Miller at 135.95 m.p.h. Otherwise, this little book is full of good pictures on art paper—full of nostalgia and sound history for those interested in all the pre-war Astons.

In the economical but lucid text, a great deal that is new appears, such as the true reason for Humphrey Cook’s crash in the 1925 200-Mile Race, a discussion as to what rear suspension of the first Aston Martin was really like, which the author admits honestly to be something of an unsolved mystery, and soon, and I note that the twin-cam AM racing engines are ascribed to Marcel Gremillon, not to Ernest Henry. Side-valve cars in Australia are covered. A small regret is that engine drawings are absent and that the only picture of the twin-cam 8-valve Benson engine is as supercharged by a later owner. I very much recommend this latest piece of profound AM history to devotees of the make, the more particularly because Inman Hunter, having been apprenticed to the Bertelli Aston Martin firm, and having owned and rebuilt these cars, knows exactly what he is talking about. He uses non-action pictures of almost all the competition and production (including special-bodied) cars he discusses, and is most interesting and informative about original owners, race happenings, and the whereabouts of some of these Astons today. A few spelling errors have crept in—Cowper for Couper and Lindfield for Linfield—but no matter. It’s excellent stuff. Indeed, production figures, little-known anecdotes, opinions on styling of the various Harry Bertelli bodies, etc., make this the best AM book yet. Dalton Watson will need to look to their laurels!—W.B.

The Oakwood Press, Old School House, Church Hill, Tarrant Hinton, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DTI 1 8JB has published its Locomotion Papers No. 104 with the title of “Buses on the Continent-1898-1976”, which as an illustrated discourse on some little-known history should appeal to public-service vehicle enthusiasts. Largely a pictorial survey, it sells for £1.50.