Earlier this month the Club rotunda hosted a beautiful 1923 side-valve engined Aston-Martin ‘Cloverleaf’ – note the hyphen, finally dropped in the 1950s – one of a little more than a dozen examples still with us today. It was here to celebrate an event commemorating Aston Martin’s first foray into motor sport: the 1919 London to Edinburgh Trial – after the company was inaugurated some years earlier by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford; the two partners chose the name ‘Aston’ both as a nod to Aston Hill near Tring and for the indisputable advantage of prominent alphabetisation!
So the Club Library has over a century’s worth of company existence to celebrate with what has become an iconic British marque. No better place to start than with Alan Archer & co.’s handsome compilation: Palawan’s books maintain the highest production values but appear sometimes, as is the case here, a little light on the sheer number of words penned – every word here though is clearly weighted, the result of meticulous research; the photography is stunning; and the tables of specifications are beautifully laid out. Another fine and valuable read for the company’s early history is Inman Hunter’s monograph, again deeply researched – the comprehensive index is often a revealing pointer there. It’s a systematically detailed narrative with academic undertones certainly – but very palatable when read in small chapter chunks; there are many fine, period (mainly stationary) images too. A specialist area is amply covered in Andrew Noakes’ recent, welcome book on Aston’s most famous model: similarly styled to Palawan’s, it makes for a fine, short read with good period photographs.
For a bite-sized treatment – but no less attractive for that – of Aston Martin’s racing history, Anthony Pritchard’s volume is a good read with some important appendices on ‘Aston’s prominent drivers’ and ‘Aston Martin/Lagonda V12 competition car histories’. And for a niche project, Michael Bollée’s bilingual summary of Aston’s 1960s’ follow-up to the DBR1’s 1959 Le Mans victory is the type of project one hopes that an experienced motoring author might picks up on as being worthy of study and publication. Lastly, for now, John Wyer and Chris Nixon’s two volumes are dated in look and feel but remain essential bookshelf references.
Production or racing, the blood is stirred.
Alan Archer, Neil Murray, Ted Cutting, Richard Williams, and Richard Newton (photography)
, 1994. Aston Martin: the compleat [sic] car. London: Palawan Press.
(Marcus C.) Inman Hunter with Alan Archer, 1992. Aston Martin, 1913-1947. London: Osprey Automotive.
Andrew Noakes, 2017. Aston Martin DB: 70 years. London: Aurum Press in association with Aston Martin Heritage Trust.
Anthony Pritchard, 2006. Aston Martin: a racing history. Sparkford: Haynes.
Michel Bollée, 2017. Aston Martin <
John Wyer with Chris Dixon (vol. 1); Chris Dixon (compiler and editor) (vol. 2), 1980. Racing with the David Brown Aston Martins (2 vols). Isleworth: Transport Bookman.