Aston Martin 15/98 Short Chassis Touring
1938 Abbey Coachworks
1938 Aston Martin 2.0-Litre 15/98 Sports Tourer
Coachwork by Abbey Coachworks Ltd
Chassis no. D8/872/SO
Manufactured by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin, the first Aston-Martins (the hyphen is correct for the period) rapidly established a reputation for high performance and sporting prowess in the immediate post-WWI years. Unfortunately, the management's concentration on motor sport, while accruing invaluable publicity, distracted it from the business of manufacturing cars for sale, the result being just 50-or-so sold by 1925 when the company underwent the first of what would be many changes of ownership.
The foundations were laid for the commencement of proper series production with the formation of Aston Martin Motors Ltd in 1926 under the stewardship of Augustus 'Bert' Bertelli and William Renwick. Built at the firm's new Feltham works, the first 'new generation' Aston Martins were displayed at the 1927 London Motor Show at Olympia. Like his predecessors, 'Bert' Bertelli understood the effect of competition success on Aston Martin sales and the 1928 season sanctioned the construction of two works racers.
Based on the 1½-Litre, overhead-camshaft road car, the duo featured dry-sump lubrication and this feature was carried over to the International sports model, newly introduced for 1929.
The new Aston was soon making its mark on the racetrack, 'Bert' Bertelli and Pat Driscoll winning the Biennial Cup at Le Mans in 1932, one of many competition successes achieved before the International was superseded by the Le Mans and Ulster models.
Racing was still at the forefront of company policy under the stewardship of new owner R G Sutherland, and the 1936 Le Mans race was chosen for the new 2-Litre model's public debut. Basically the same as the existing 1½-Litre model, two works cars were produced only for the '36 Le Mans to be cancelled as a result of strikes in France. However, Speed Models did subsequently compete at Le Mans, the Ulster TT, Spa Francorchamps, the Mille Miglia, Brooklands and Donington Park, as well as speed events and hill climbs all over Europe, proving to be fast, reliable and competitive. Known as the 'Type C', the last examples were bodied immediately prior to WW2 by Enrico Bertelli and given aerodynamic coachwork.
Although sold in strictly limited numbers, the Speed Model did provide the basis for the more successful '15/98', some 125 of which were sold between 1937 and 1939.
The 15/98 maintained the policy of developing a more refined and luxurious product that had begun with the preceding 1½-Litre Mark II. A new 2.0-litre version of Aston's overhead-camshaft, four-cylinder engine - first seen in the 1936 Speed Model - powered the 15/98. The model took its name from the long-stroke engine's RAC-rated horsepower (15) and the actual output at the crankshaft (98), and could touch 85mph flat-out. Short and long-chassis models were built, both featuring a Moss synchromesh gearbox, Girling rod-operated brakes, and Luvax hydraulic rear dampers. Early examples were bodied by E Bertelli, subsequent chassis by Abbey or Abbott.
Aston Martin's well-documented trials and tribulations of this period kept production disappointingly low - a mere 176 2.0-litre cars of all types were completed between 1936 and 1939 - and today the 15/98 is both rare and highly sought after.
Built on the short chassis, 'D8/827/SO' carries a 2/4-seater sports tourer body made by Abbey Coachworks Ltd of Acton, West London. It is believed that only some 20 cars were completed with this type of body. Registered 'EAL 519', the Aston was first owned by one A Darling of Epplestone, Nottinghamshire (from 8th April 1938), while further owners known to the AMOC are (in order): Lieutenant P H Scarf of the Royal Marines Barracks, Southsea (17.2.1951), D W Palmer of Edgware, Middlesex (31.3.1952), and P Courtney of Cheam, Surrey (1965).
The AMOC archive has the original car and engine test report sheets, and an extensive works service record going through to 1955 when 'EAL 519' would have been serviced at Friary Motors. Some time later, the car passed to the Stratford Motor Museum where it was displayed for many years. The Aston was purchased from the Museum by a Swedish collector, Mr Göran Möllberg, in 1996. The current vendor bought the car from Mr Möllberg.
The Aston was registered in Sweden with the number 'BRS957', but still carries its UK registration plates. There is a copy of the old UK registration document in the file.
Purchased by the current owner in 2016 and was beautifully totally re-trimed by Gary Wright, new wheels and hubs have been fitted and the car fully re-commissioned to successfully compete in a number UK and European rallies.
Un-restored and original, 'D8/827/SO' represents an exceptional opportunity to acquire a very rare example of this prestigious and highly desirable marque, which would make an important addition to any serious Aston Martin collection.