1938 Aston Martin 15/98hp Short Chassis 2-litre Drophead Coupé with Dickey Coachwork by E D Abbott Ltd of Farnham Registration no. HMX 474 Chassis no. D8/840/SC
Aston Martin entered two 2-litre sports cars for Le Mans in 1936, developed very much from the hugely successful 1 ½ litre models but with a new 1,949cc engine with revised porting. It was from this car that R G Sutherland and Claude Hill developed the new 15/98hp, a quick sporting tourer on a de-tuned Speed Model chassis and adopting a wet sump engine. The single overhead camshaft engine unit, with a 15.09 RAC hp rating developed 98bhp at 5,000rpm. Up-to-the-minute design included a Moss gearbox with synchromesh on 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears and hydraulic braking. The 15/98 was offered in three chassis lengths, 8ft 6ins wheelbase for the Speed Model, 8ft 3ins for the Short Chassis, while the Long Chassis tourers had a 9ft 8ins wheelbase. Top speed was rated at around 90mph, depending on specification and coachwork.
E Bertelli Ltd. were the favoured coachbuilders for the saloons and tourers while E. D. Abbott Ltd. of Farnham built the attractive Drophead Coupés. In all some 150 15/98 models left the factory of which just 25 were Drophead Coupés. The 15/98 model was deemed a success. A contemporary road test by Autocar magazine reported that the new 15/98 was "softer, quieter and more flexible, whilst acceleration and general suitability for everyday purposes have increased out of all knowledge." E. D. Abbott Ltd exhibited their two-seater Drophead Coupé with Dickey model on a 15/98 chassis at Earls Court in October 1937, cellulosed in polychromatic blue, with a listed price of £625.
Factory Records indicate that the chassis for this car was laid down in July/August 1937, the engine being on test in July 1937 and the Chassis First Test Report being in August 1937. On 1st April 1938 the car is recorded with its new two-seater coupé coachwork complete, at which point it was passed to the Sales Department. The recorded first owner was F Byers of Oxford and later London, second recorded owner was Hemsley & Co. of Ashby de la Zouch and the next owner in 1948 was N T Woombes of Leicester. Later owners are not fully recorded however it is known that the car spent some time in the Channel Islands and is offered with its old Channel Islands number plate. Copy Factory Records offered with the car show that it was regularly maintained by the factory up to July 1939 by which time it had covered some 24,000 or so miles. It appears the car was probably laid up during hostilities and was subsequently recommissioned and overhauled by the factory in May 1945. Maintenance records cease in November 1948.
The car returned to the U.K. some years ago and respected Aston Martin restorers Jim and Bruce Young undertook extensive restoration, much of which is recorded photographically and included a major strip-down to bare chassis, mechanical rebuild and re-timbering of the frame where necessary. Originality was carefully retained where possible.
D8/840/SC is now very smartly presented in Navy Blue over silver livery with Air Force Blue leather upholstery and carpeting, enjoys the benefit of wind-up side windows and is equipped with black hood and hood envelope. The Abbott coachwork provides snug motoring for two, the dickey seat offering fair weather 2+2 motoring. D8/840/SC comes from the motor house of a long-term Aston Martin enthusiast whose stable has previously included 1932 Le Mans Team Car LM 9 and DB3S/1. During this ownership the car has been used sparingly, the vendor noting with some satisfaction that it showed a clean pair of heels to some three-litre Bentleys at BDC meetings on the Isle of Wight and Torquay.
D8/840/SC, a rare, quick and stylish pre-war thoroughbred, is currently licenced and MoT tested and comes with a Swansea V5C registration document, some maintenance invoices, copies of Factory Records, a tailored in-garage dust cover and restoration photographs.