Marsh Plant: bal­anced

Motor Sport News - - Club Monsters -

De­scrib­ing the two Marsh Plant As­ton Martins as mon­sters could be con­sid­ered rather harsh.

Although pow­er­ful, they were among the most well-bal­anced of the cars that con­tested the As­ton Martin Own­ers’ Club’s In­ter­mar­que (and later Su­per GT) se­ries.

Af­ter driv­ing V8R EVO 4 – the ul­ti­mate evo­lu­tion – in 2009, for­mer Bri­tish Tour­ing Car star An­thony Reid said: “With the en­gine pulled back and low­ered it has good weight dis­tri­bu­tion. It’s like a sin­gle-seater and is the best As­ton I’ve driven.”

Ge­of­frey Marsh’s suc­cess­ful team started work on its first V8 As­ton af­ter buy­ing the Hyde Vale club racer in 1988. Re­built and re­designed, it was raced suc­cess­fully by the likes of Gerry Mar­shall be­fore be­ing re­tired and re­placed by V8R02. That car even took an out­right Bri­tish GT vic­tory in the cham­pi­onship’s in­au­gu­ral sea­son.

The orig­i­nal car reap­peared in much­mod­i­fied form as V8R EVO 4 in the late ’90s, af­ter in­put from Fer­rari’s cur­rent For­mula 1 per­for­mance en­gi­neer Jock Clear.

A mas­ter­piece of engi­neer­ing, the fi­nal car had im­pres­sive aero, in­clud­ing a rear dif­fuser, and other fea­tures such as a se­quen­tial gear­box. By the time Reid was win­ning Su­per GT races and chal­leng­ing GT3 lap times in 2008-’09, the 6.1-litre ma­chine was pro­duc­ing over 560bhp and weighed just un­der 1400kg, with an im­pres­sive 48-52 front-rear weight dis­tri­bu­tion.

With the ris­ing costs of rac­ing, and the bur­geon­ing off-the-shelf op­tions pro­vided by GT3, the scope for such projects has di­min­ished. That’s a shame be­cause cars like the Marsh Plant As­tons show just what a small, ef­fi­cient club mo­tor­sport team can achieve with free reg­u­la­tions. KT

The sus­pen­sion was stiff­ened, brakes im­proved, and power in­creased to around 400-420bhp. El­lis’s strike rate in the car was good, but in 1982 he de­cided to take things to an­other level as a ri­valry de­vel­oped with the Hyde Vale car driven by Ray Taft.

Things got se­ri­ous, push­ing the As­ton Martin Own­ers’ Club In­ter­mar­que reg­u­la­tions to their limit. “Porsche had it all their own way and I wanted to build a car that could beat them,” says El­lis, who did re­ceive oc­ca­sional as­sis­tance from the fac­tory. “I wanted to beat Porsche for the ben­e­fit of As­ton and the club.”

The yel­low As­ton swept all be­fore it al­most when­ever and wher­ever it ap­peared. By 1986 the As­ton had be­come so quick that it was no longer wel­come at In­ter­mar­que events, but El­lis sim­ply took it else­where and de­vel­oped.

By the late ’80s, much of the orig­i­nal chas­sis had been re­moved to get weight down to around 900kg, the car had been low­ered, body­work ex­ten­sively mod­i­fied, and power in­creased to 500bhp or more. Even the sus­pen­sion pick up points were moved to al­low wider rub­ber.

“The ground ef­fect in high-speed cor­ners was phe­nom­e­nal,” re­calls El­lis, who racked up over 200 wins be­fore the V8 en­gine fi­nally let go in 1995, con­sign­ing the car to the work­shop. “It would pull my head off around some­where like Co­ram!”

In the 2000s, El­lis de­vel­oped a new As­ton racer, dubbed the GT700R, but it his orig­i­nal made the big­gest im­pact. KT

Marsh Plant As­ton Martins con­tested AMOC In­ter­mar­que se­ries and Su­per GT

El­lis As­ton swept all be­fore it in 1980s

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