1939 Aston Martin 15/98 'Speed Model' Sports Roadster Registration no. DTC 2 Chassis no. F8/769/LS
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 immediate post-WWI years. 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 just 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. Built at the firm's new Feltham works, the first 'new generation' Aston Martins were displayed at the 1927 London Motor Show at Olympia. Like his predecessors, 'Bert' Bertelli understood the effect of competition success on Aston Martin sales and the 1928 season sanctioned the construction of two works racers. Based on the 1½-Litre, overhead-camshaft road car, the duo featured dry-sump lubrication and this feature was carried over to the International sports model, newly introduced for 1929. The new Aston was soon making its mark on the racetrack, 'Bert' Bertelli and Pat Driscoll winning the Biennial Cup at Le Mans in 1932, one of many competition successes achieved before the International was superseded by the Le Mans and Ulster models. Racing was still at the forefront of company policy under the stewardship of new owner R G Sutherland, and the 1936 Le Mans race was chosen for the new 2-Litre model's public debut. Basically the same as the existing 1½-Litre model, two works cars were produced only for the '36 Le Mans to be cancelled as a result of strikes in France. However, Speed Models did subsequently compete at Le Mans, the Ulster TT, Spa Francorchamps, the Mille Miglia, Brooklands and Donington Park, as well as speed events and hill climbs all over Europe, proving to be fast, reliable and competitive. Known as the 'Type C', the last examples were bodied immediately prior to WW2 by Enrico Bertelli and given aerodynamic coachwork. Although sold in strictly limited numbers, the Speed Model did provide the basis for the commercially successful '15/98', some 125 of which were sold in both short and long chassis forms between 1937 and 1939. The model took its name from the long-stroke engine's RAC-rated horsepower (15) and the actual output at the crankshaft (98). Originally a 15/98 long chassis saloon, this particular car has been shortened and is currently fitted with 'Ulster' type two-seat bodywork. The chassis and mechanical components were discovered in a barn in Wales where a number of Astons had been stored for more than 20 years. All the components were painstakingly restored and the engine sent to marque specialists Ecurie Bertelli for a complete rebuild to 'Speed Model' specification complete with Phoenix crankshaft and steel con-rods (all on shell bearings), high performance camshaft, correct SU 'H' Type carburettors and dry sump lubrication as per the works cars. The extractor exhaust manifold and system were made to factory drawings. The finished car has been built around a shortened chassis as per the factory originals, having been subject to a complete 'last nut and bolt' restoration over a five-year period. The Ulster-style body features a custom radiator and grille to reduce frontal area and drag. It was constructed by Simon Isles, the well known and highly skilled specialist in pre-war Aston Martins with extensive experience of reconstructing the various pre-war Aston body types, including a number of team cars. Fitted with powerful hydraulic brakes and correct original Moss gearbox, this 'racer on the road' Aston Martin is said to be a joy to drive. 'DTC 2' retains its original identity and registration number as approved by the Aston Martin Owners Club. Following a thorough shakedown period of nine months, the car is reliable and is sold complete with current road fund licence/MoT and Swansea V5 document.