Aston Martin Motors Ltd was formed in 1926 by the Charnwood family from the remnants of Bamford & Martin who had originally created the Aston Martin marque. The new company moved to Feltham on the outskirts of London and under the direction of A C Bertelli a new 1.5 litre / 91 cui single overhead cam motor was developed that would be the foundation stone of a great deal of track success.
The new company moved to Feltham on the outskirts of London and under the direction of well known racing driver A C Bertelli a new 1.5 litre / 91 cui single overhead cam motor was developed that would be the foundation stone of a great deal of track success.
From 1928 to 1936 Aston Martin built a series of 21 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui racing cars with light weight aluminium bodies on production based Mk II chassis for use by the works team with the chassis numbers LM1 trough 21, all bar one of of these cars still exist and are known by various different names according to when they were built.
In 1931 AC Bertelli and Maurice Harvey shared a 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui Aston Martin at Le Mans and won their class driving #LM7, when the model was known as an International. Sammy Newsome and Henk Widengren repeated the feat in 1932 with the “Le Mans” model chassis #LM10 equaling the 5th place overall of Bertelli and Harvey, amazingly in 1933 Aston Martin’s Pat Driscroll and Clifton Penn – Hughes also finished a class winning 5th overall, all though this time the finished one spot behind a Riley in the 1.1 litre / 61.6 cui class.
Despite completing the same 188 laps as in 1933 the best Aston Martin, the now privately entered chassis #LM10 driven by Reggie Tounge and Maurice Faulkner could only finish tenth in 1934, behind four Riley’s, two of them from the smaller class, a smaller class winning MG K3 and two 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui Singers.
After the debacle Bertelli, who was born in Italy but only lived their until he was four, ordered the works team cars to be painted red to change their luck.
At the Tourist Trophy run over the Ards closed road course outside Belfast Ulster the three red team cars; LM16 driven by Thomas Fotheringham-Parker, LM15 driven by Pat Driscoll and LM17 driven by Clifton Penn Hughes finised 3rd, 6th and 7th respectively and won the team prize after which the LM series subsequently took their name.
Today’s featured car LM18 was built for the 1935 season an was driven at Le Mans by Jim Elwes and Mortimer Morris-Goodall to a distant 12th place finish overall. Charles Martin and Charles Brackenbury in the sister LM 20 finished 3rd overall to reclaim the 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui class award for Aston Martin.
Four team cars appeared at the 1935 Tourist Trophy three of which finished 4th, 5th and 11th to again claim the team prize, Clifton Penn-Hughes drove LM18 to 5th 1 second behind Charles Brackenbury driving LM20.
Aston Martin switched it’s attention to racing new 2 litre models in 1936, with the works cars continuing to be given LM chassis numbers, Le Mans was cancelled due to nationwide workers strikes, but the new cars were raced elsewhere alongside privately entered 1 1/2 litre Ulsters.
Frenchman Victor Polledry had acquired LM18 by 1937 and continued to race it up until the out break of war in 1939, scoring a known best 3rd place overall, 1st in class, in the Bol d’Or run at Montlhéry outside Paris in June 1938.
Victor raced the car on at least one occasion after the ’39 – ’45 war recording a 15th place finish and class victory, driving solo, in the Paris 12 Hours run at Montlhéry in July 1950.
Some of you may have noticed the white mouse painted on the front of LM18, when I saw it I, incorrectly, assumed it signified some in period connection with Prince Bira and his patron HRH Prince Chula of Siam who ran the White Mouse Stable. It turns out that HRH Prince Chula of Siam did buy a factory built replica 1 1/2 litre Aston Martin Ulster, chassis #G5/588/U, for Prince Bira to race in the 1935 RAC TT where he retired with a broken oil pipe.
Thanks to Tim Murray, Roy C and Alan Cox at The Nostalgia Forum it transpires that the reason that LM 18 carries The White Mouse is most likely because LM 18 now owned by Nick Mason’s family has occasionally been teamed up with the original #G5/588/U owned and raced by Hubert Fabri for relay races at vintage meetings.
My thanks to Tim, Roy and Alan for their help in solving the White Mouse Mystery.
Thanks for joining me on this “White Mouse Mystery” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again for a look at another Aston Martin tomorrow. Don’t forget to look back now !