Potted histories and essential data on every roadgoing Aston Martin
Sports/super Sports 1920-1925
SPECIFICATION Engine 1.5-litre in-line 4 Power 55bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph n/a Top speed 90mph Although the first ‘Aston Martin’ had been created in 1915, the Great War meant production didn’t actually start until 1920. And because the early years were all about motorsport, it wasn’t until 1923 that cars went on sale to the general public. The Sports was advanced for its time, with four-wheel brakes and a fully floating rear axle, and in Super Sports form it got a twin-cam, 16-valve four with a lusty 55bhp. Business was tough, though, and after around 60 cars had been sold, the company went into receivership in 1925.
Second Series/new International/le Mans 1932-1934
SPECIFICATION Engine 1495cc, in-line 4 Power 70bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph n/a Top speed 85mph
Price reductions, made possible by out-sourcing more components, and continuing motorsport success at Le Mans and elsewhere helped lift sales of what are now known as the Second Series cars. Particularly well received was the Le Mans model introduced in 1932. Its high-compression engine pushed power up from 60 to 70bhp. Tourers and saloons were still built but were overshadowed by the sports cars – more than 100 examples were sold of the Le Mans alone. There was also a (much rarer) four-seater version.
SPECIFICATION Engine 1495cc, in-line 4 Power 85bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph n/a Top speed 100mph Most revered of all the early Astons, the Ulster was named in celebration of the Works racers’ success in the 1934 Tourist Trophy and was effectively a replica of those factory cars. With power now up to 85bhp from the latest version of the 1.5-litre ohc four, it was enough for Aston to guarantee a 100mph top speed. These cars are distinguished by their sleek body and boat-shaped tail, which houses a horizontally mounted spare wheel. Twenty-one Ulsters were built, all of which are believed to have survived.
First Series/international 1927-1932
SPECIFICATION Engine 1495cc, in-line 4 Power 56bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph n/a Top speed 80mph With new financial backers, a new factory in Feltham and a new ohc 1.5-litre engine, the era of ‘Bertelli’ Astons began in 1927. There were sports and competition models, and also a tourer and a saloon (pictured), while 1929 saw the introduction of the low-slung, dry-sumped International model, based on the company’s widely successful racing cars of the day. The International was fast and refined but the price was high and sales remained slow. In all, 129 ‘First Series’ cars were produced.
Third Series (MKII) 1934-1936
SPECIFICATION Engine 1495cc, in-line 4 Power 73bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph n/a Top speed 85mph The MKII was a development of the Second Series, intended to be a more useable yet faster version. A new balanced crankshaft assembly and a few other minor mods to the 1.5-litre engine saw peak power rise to 73bhp, though the top speed for the two-seater remained at 85mph. Short- and long-chassis versions were available with a number of different bodies, including tourer, two-door saloon and drophead coupe. A short chassis with lightweight body was adopted as the Works car and ultimately became the Ulster.
2-litre Speed/type C 1936-1940
SPECIFICATION Engine 1949cc, in-line 4 Power 110bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph n/a Top speed 95mph To broaden the appeal of its range, in 1936 Aston introduced a 2-litre engine, based on the 1.5 but with increased bore and stroke and domed pistons. The Speed model was created for the 1936 Le Mans, though in the event the race was cancelled. Some 25 were eventually sold. In 1938 it was decided that eight leftover Speed chassis should be used to create a more ‘modern-looking’ Aston. The resulting Type C, with rather bulbous bodywork, didn’t go down well with enthusiasts and the last one sold at Christmas 1940.