Sunday, 19 April 2015

Aston Martin LM19 Ulster car to be auctioned

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Aston Martin LM19 Ulster car to be auctioned

Back in June 2014 - although it doesn't seem that long ago! - I wrote a blog post about two of our favourite [fictional] chaps and the cars that link them together (on film at least): Bertie Wooster's Aston Martin and Captain Hastings' Lagonda.

I thoroughly enjoyed penning that post, as pre-war Astons and Lagondas rank among my top motors and its always a pleasure to see them appear on screen in the hands of two top chaps.  I'm delighted therefore to get another chance to shine a light on a 1930s Aston Martin, with a very special example due to go under the hammer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June.

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The Aston Martin LM Ulster was based on the 1928 1½-litre International model (as used by Bertie Wooster in the 1990s Granada TV series) and designed by Aston Martin's co-owner at the time, Italian-born engineer A.C. "Bert" Bertelli, with the sole aim of racing in the famous Le Mans endurance (hence the LM moniker) race.  LM1 and LM2 were promptly entered in to the 1928 event but in the end neither car made it to the finish.  In the following years Aston Martin continued to refine the LM-series - producing a total of 21 such models - with success finally coming in the 1933 race when one car finished top of its class and the other in fifth place, the company's best result at the time.

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As well as Le Mans, the LM Astons also competed at myriad other endurance races around Europe and this included the Ards TT (Tourist Trophy), a 400-mile race around the streets of Dundonald, Newtownards and Comber in County Down, Northern Ireland.  It was first run in 1928, proving ideal for Aston Martin to do some more on-the-job testing of its new LM cars, and in 1934 they had their greatest success at the Ards circuit - whereupon the "Ulster" suffix was added to the model name.

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Now one of the few remaining Aston Martin LM Ulsters is due to come up for sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June.  This particular example - LM19 - was one of the three at the 1935 Le Mans (where it held the class lead for a time before crashing out after 9 hours; sister car LM20 would go on to finish in third place) and would go on to race in the Ards TT and Mille Miglia in the same year - making it a rare entrant in all three "blue riband" race events of the era.  A year later it was driven in the 1936 French Grand Prix by famous British racing driver Dick Seaman and, quite amazingly, has been raced in one event or another every year since (excluding 1939-45) with its last appearance on track at a Vintage Sports Car Club race meeting in April 2014.  With such a sporting pedigree as that it is perhaps not surprising that this car, widely regarded as one of the best examples of pre-war British sports car production (and by Bertelli himself as "the best car[s] I ever built"), is expected to beat the record for the highest price ever paid for a pre-war Aston Martin (which was set at last year's Goodwood Fos auction when another LM went for over £1.4million - in turn beating the £1.3million paid for another Ulster in 2013) with an estimate of between £1,600,000 and £2,000,000.  I doubt even Bertie Wooster could afford that!

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Although the B.B.C. article suggests that the new owner (whoever s/he may be) won't race this rare and valuable car I'd like to think that they would enter it in a few events at the VSCC, Goodwood and the like, where those of us with petrol in our veins and a love of vintage motor cars can see this beautiful and historic machine doing what it was designed to do while providing a thrilling and emotive link to the heyday of pre-war motor-racing.  Let's come back in June and see what it went for, eh?

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Easter hellos

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Happy Easter everyone, I haven't forgotten you all!  (Don't worry, I've got a couple of posts lined up for the next few weeks so hopefully things will soon be back to the "new" normal here at Eclectic Ephemera.)  In more exciting news I had another article published in In Retrospect magazine, with a fourth hopefully for Issue 03 in a couple of months' time!

Did you see that B.B.C. Two actually put on Easter Parade at Easter(!), on Good Friday morning?  That was a pleasant start to the Easter weekend, I thought (even though I'd recorded it from their last showing of it in... November)!  I can never get enough of the incomparable Fred Astaire...



Here's hoping you've all had a wonderful Easter holiday - not too much chocolate I hope!  (I actually got my first egg in years - from work!  What a nice bunch of coves, eh?)  Well, roll on Spring!

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