1932 Aston Martin 1½-Litre New International Sports  Chassis no. B2/200 Engine no. B2/200

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Lot 331
1932 Aston Martin 1½-Litre New International Sports
Registration no. MV 2543 Chassis no. B2/200 Engine no. B2/200

Sold for £ 124,700 (US$ 166,086) inc. premium
1932 Aston Martin 1½-Litre New International Sports
Registration no. MV 2543
Chassis no. B2/200
Engine no. B2/200

*Unique factory prototype
*1932 Le Mans works team support vehicle
*First registered to Lance Prideaux-Brune
*Recently re-commissioned after many years off the road

Footnotes

  • Listed on the factory build sheets as an 'experimental car', 'B2/200' is the prototype of the New International and what was to become the Le Mans. It was taken to the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 1932 as the works support vehicle, carrying the tools and spares as documented in Motor Sport and Aston Martin 1913-1947 by Inman Hunter, and was retained by the works until December 1932. The car featured in the August 1932 edition of Motor Sport, being road tested at Brooklands, and is thought to be the one featured in contemporary advertisements. It was first registered to Lance Prideaux-Brune, the company's financial backer and one of the driving forces behind Aston Martin in the early 1930s.

    Founded in 1913 by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin, Aston Martin has always had motor racing at its heart. Although Aston Martin competed at the French Grand Prix of 1922, it has always been Le Mans where the company enjoyed its greatest success. From its first visit to the legendary track in 1928, Aston Martin has been synonymous with the world's greatest endurance race. In 1932 they won both the 1.5-Litre class and the Rudge Cup, and this car is very much part of that story.

    Aston Martin production in the early 1930s was limited (only 27 were built in 1932). Their cars had a reputation for outstanding quality but were expensive. For 1932 they offered two types on the same chassis: a sports tourer, the New International, and the Le Mans sports racer, a copy of the victorious Le Mans cars. The Le Mans proved more popular and over 100 were built over the next few years compared with around a dozen of the New International. The latter was powered by a 1,495cc four-cylinder, single-overhead-cam, dry sump engine breathing through two SU carburettors. In an attempt to reduce costs, Aston Martin purchased the gearbox from Laystall and the spiral-bevel rear axle from ENV. In so doing they managed to shave £120 from the price, bringing it down to a still hefty £475. The gearbox was mounted directly to the back of the engine for the first time in an Aston Martin.

    This prototype car's rear axle is an experimental ENV unit and the body is different from that of the subsequent production cars, with deeper side valances over the chassis members and the headlights mounted in the same way as the works racers. In 1932 this car was used as the team tender for Le Mans where, according to Motor Sport, 'it arrived carrying more luggage, tools and spares than one would have believed possible for a car of its dimensions'.

    Tested by Motor Sport at Brooklands and featured in all of the contemporary road tests, 'MV 2543' covered 20,000 miles in its first ten months in the hands of Lance Prideaux-Brune, the London motor dealer who effectively owned Aston Martin at that time. When the car came to be sold at the end of 1932, the factory build sheets state 'speedo put back (9,000m)'. The odometer read 37,801 miles by 1936 when the build sheets record that the car needed some body repairs after an accident.

    In the 1950s, 'MV 2543' was owned briefly by two sets of brothers in succession, latterly by Tony and Colin MacEke. Tony owned it first, purchasing the Aston for £175 in 1957 to replace the Austin Seven special he had built the year before. He enjoyed the car, taking it on holiday to Cornwall but soon afterwards his head was turned by a Le Mans model and he sold it to his brother Colin. Colin kept 'MV 2543' for a couple of years but eventually had to sell due to the requirements of a young family. He sold it to Lt Roger Wilmot Bennet of Shrivenham, Wiltshire. The last tax stamp in the old-style logbook is dated 1966, and the three-folder history file contains bills and invoices dating from Roger Bennet's ownership up to 2004 some 44 years later.

    The next owner was Bob Anderson, who set about getting 'MV 2543' back on the road. The gearbox was rebuilt in 2000 and the engine in 2009, while the final stage of re-commissioning was orchestrated by Nick Benwell of Phoenix Green Garage. Sadly, the work was not completed in time for Mr Anderson to see it run before he passed away, but in 2013 'MV 2543' returned to the road for the first time in decades.

    It is almost unheard of to find a car of this pedigree that is still so wonderfully original and unmolested. Painted red with the black wings in 1963 when it was owned by the MacEke brothers, the New International was dark green before that, while the build sheets show it leaving the factory in black. The factory prototype and works tender to the triumphant assault on Le Mans in 1932, this car is unique and surely no Aston Martin collection can be complete without it. As Aston Martin successfully moves into its second century, 'MV 2543' represents an opportunity to own a significant piece of its early history. It is a delight to drive, as all these early Astons are.
Contacts
1932 Aston Martin 1½-Litre New International Sports  Chassis no. B2/200 Engine no. B2/200
1932 Aston Martin 1½-Litre New International Sports  Chassis no. B2/200 Engine no. B2/200
1932 Aston Martin 1½-Litre New International Sports  Chassis no. B2/200 Engine no. B2/200
1932 Aston Martin 1½-Litre New International Sports  Chassis no. B2/200 Engine no. B2/200
1932 Aston Martin 1½-Litre New International Sports  Chassis no. B2/200 Engine no. B2/200
1932 Aston Martin 1½-Litre New International Sports  Chassis no. B2/200 Engine no. B2/200
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