‘One of those cars which make the heart of the enthusiast rejoice, not only because the lines of the little machine suggest the joys of the open road, but because the whole chassis has that indefinable air of breeding.’ Lyrically waxed The Autocar about the Aston Martin Le Mans. The classic looking sports car presented here, chassis LM9, was built specifically for that year’s Le Mans and is a uniquely engineered and low styled example of the 11.9hp model designed by A.C. ‘Bert’ Bertelli in the previous decade. When he took over the company in 1927 he knew that racing was the best way to promote the marque. The power came from his overhead-cam 1.5 litre engine. In addition, the cars were built to be extremely light. To This end, many components were modified and made in Elektron, a magnesium/aluminium alloy. The 11.9hp engine had dry-sump lubrication as standard from 1930.
These cars were built for the 1932 race: LM8, LM9, LM10, and they were all drivable within eight weeks. They were tested in the Brooklands 1000 Miles Race where handling problems led to retirement and a rapid reworking of the front suspension. They wer3e then shipped to France. LM9 driven by Jack Bezzant and Kenneth Peacock, had to stop when a rocker arm broke. This was replaced but on the next lap the rocker bracket shattered, and the car was retired; the other team cars came 5th and 7th overall, and Bertelli won the Biennial Cup. In 1953, driven by Driscoll and Penn Hughes, LM9 came 5th overall, 1st in class and 2nd in the Rudge Witworth Biennial Cup. This was the year that Aston Martin decided to rebuild replicas of the team cars for customers becoming the first -car maker to ever use the race name for a model. The International Le Mans Model two-seater was then launched at that year’s London Motor Show. However, economic times were difficult, and these replica team cars were very expensive. A second-series and cheaper model soon appeared.
Overall, the 11.9hp was in production from 1926 to 1935 and The Autocar’s review praised its fine handling, performance, careful finish and ‘a design suggestion inevitable durability such as few small cars possess’.
Aston Martin raced with distinction in every Le Mans from 1931 to 1964 and this lovely example of purposeful engineering certainly exudes that air of breeding that combines speed and elegance.
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