1933 1½-Litre Aston Martin 12/50hp '2nd Series' Tourer Coachwork by Enrico Bertelli Registration no. CMF 645 Chassis no. D3/249/L Engine no. D-3-249
Manufactured by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin, the first Aston-Martins (the hyphen is correct for the period) rapidly established a reputation for high performance and sporting prowess in the years immediately following The Great War. Unfortunately, the management's concentration on motor sport, while accruing invaluable publicity, distracted it from the business of manufacturing cars for sale, the result being a mere 50-or-so sold by 1925 when the company underwent the first of what would be many changes of ownership. The foundations were laid for the commencement of proper series production with the formation of Aston Martin Motors Ltd in 1926 under the stewardship of Augustus 'Bert' Bertelli and William Renwick. Bertelli was an experienced automobile engineer, having designed cars for Enfield & Allday, and an engine of his design - an overhead-camshaft four-cylinder of 1,492cc - powered the new 11.9hp Aston, known also as the '12/50' or '1½-Litre'. Built at the firm's new Feltham works, the first 'new generation' Aston Martins were displayed at the 1927 London Motor Show at Olympia. These new Astons were available on long and short chassis, the former being reserved for saloons and tourers and the latter for the sports models. Like his predecessors, 'Bert' Bertelli understood the effect of competition success on Aston Martin sales and sanctioned the construction of two works racers for the 1928 season. Based on the 1½-litre road car, the duo featured dry-sump lubrication a feature that would stand them in good stead in long distance sports car events and this was carried over to the International sports model, newly introduced for 1929. Built in two wheelbase lengths, the International was manufactured between 1929 and 1932, mostly with bodies by Augustus's brother Enrico 'Harry' Bertelli. The 'Le Mans' label was first applied to the competition version of the (1st Series) International following Aston's class win and 5th place overall in the 1931 Le Mans race. This conceit was fully justified when the model placed 5th and 7th in the 1932 race and collected the Rudge-Whitworth Biennial Cup. It may, in fact, be the first car named after the Le Mans Race, although many others have since followed Aston Martin's example. The early 1930s was a period of economic recession and with sales of expensive quality cars falling off, some serious rethinking had to be done at Feltham. The prudent decision was taken to redesign the chassis using proprietary components to reduce cost. A Laycock gearbox was adopted, mounted in unit with the engine, and the worm drive rear axle, which had never been completely satisfactory, was replaced by an ENV spiral bevel. There was a redesigned chassis frame and many other modifications resulting in what was virtually a new car, although it carried the same coachwork. The original line-up of what would become known as the '2nd Series' did not last long, disappearing from the range towards the end of 1933, by which time the chassis numbers were being suffixed 'L' or 'S' depending on length. One of only 20 produced, 'CMF 645' is believed to be the only original 12/50 tourer still in existence. This matching-numbers car has the longer (10') wheelbase and has been fitted from new with the Le Mans-type spiral bevel axle, centre throttle and gearchange. The Aston had enjoyed four owners before its acquisition in 1950 by a motor engineer, who installed an ENV pre-selector gearbox, painted the car green and fitted a hood. When he sold the car in 1980 it was bought as a 21st birthday present and later used as the new owner's wedding car. Work carried out during this period included an engine overhaul and an interior re-trim. In 2000 'CMF 645' was bought by current vendor. Since then the hood and side screens have been renewed and the car serviced by Andy Bell, who refitted the original close-ratio gearbox and installed a new clutch, etc. The engine has been rebuilt with all new internals by a local engineer, and the original aluminium body restored and repainted. Additional works included repairing and re-plating the radiator, rebuilding the wheels, and polishing the brake drums. The restoration has been carried out sympathetically while maintaining the originality of the car, which possesses a wonderful patina. 'CMF 645' is finished in black with green leather interior and comes with old-style logbook, current MoT/tax and Swansea V5. Described as 'on the button' and ready to drive away, this charismatic 1930s tourer will surely reward its fortunate new owner with a delightful driving experience as well as the opportunity to continue the preservation an historically significant Aston Martin.