During the course of the coming month “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” will be celebrating the centenary of Aston Martin with posts featuring the marque on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays and on Thursdays I’ll be celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Corvette, Friday’s will be devoted to Ferrari’s and Tuesdays to Automobilia.
Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded Bamford & Martin in 1913 to sell Singer cars. The first car built by Bamford and Martin was given the marque name Aston Martin in 1915, but because of the Great War of 1914 – 1918 it did not go into production. The Aston name was adopted from the Aston Hill near Aston Compton where Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin were regular successful competitors.
During a period of post war financial turmoil and several bankruptcies up until 1926 Bamford & Martin built 55 cars for sale along with ‘Razor Blade’ which was built for in an attempt to become the first car to record an average speed of 100mph over one hour in a light car at Brooklands, however AC Cars pipped Martin & Bamford to the post recording 101.39 mph (163.17 km/h).
The chassis was specially made, but many of the remaining parts were standard Aston Martin items. The 55 hp 1.5 litre / 91 cui four cylinder motor, based on half a 1921 Ballot 3 litre / 183 cui 8 cylinder motor, was a spare Aston Martin had built for their 1922 French Grand Prix car.
The body work, built by the De Havilland Aircraft Company, is just 18 1/2″ wide at it’s widest point making it one of the, if not the, narrowest racing cars ever built. Originally an aerodynamic bubble was fitted on top of the cockpit and the car was temporarily known as “The Oyster”, but Lionel Martin could not find drivers diminutive enough to fit inside. SCH Davis managed to lap Brooklands consistently between 103 mph and 104 mph, faster than the one hour record set by AC Cars, but had to give up their record attempt because the front offside tyres repeatedly came off.
Major F.B. Halford was the first driver to race Razor Blade, crossing the line first in a handicap race, 5th on handicap, during the B.A.R.C. August Meeting at Brooklands and the following month the following poem appeared in the The Light Car and Cyclecar magazine :-
Major F. B. Halford
(The intrepid driver of the “razor blade” Aston-Martin racer)
With razor blades we’re all acquainted;
Some are good, others painted.
Halford Smiles; he’s found a winner;
Diet follows – make him thinner.
Later in 1923 the Major set a standing kilometer class record of 66.54 mph, while Herbert Kensington-Moir drove Razor Blade to a standing mile class record of 74.12 mph.
Razor Blade is seen in these photographs at Prescott Hill Climb with Colin Shaw at the wheel, above Razor Blade is seen next to the Halford Special built by Major F. B. Halford on an Aston Martin chassis which I’ll be looking at in greater detail tomorrow.
Thanks for joining me on this “Poetry and Motion” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”. I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now.