Only 57 ‘Bamford and Martin’ Aston Martins were made in total. At full capacity, just one car per week rolled off the production line.
‘Cloverleaf’ is one of the oldest road-going production Aston Martin models in existence and it’s estimated that fewer than 16 examples still exist around the world, in one form or another.
Fitted with its original 1500cc side-valve engine, XR 1981 on display here is almost identical to Lionel Martin’s own Cloverleaf. The first owner of this 1923 long-chassis ‘Cloverleaf’-bodied tourer was quickly in action at sprint events of the day, and took 2nd place at the Herts Automobile and Aero Club Hillclimb at Aston Hill in 1924, one of a team of three Aston Martins which were ahead of two Bugattis. Lionel Martin’s own Cloverleaf secured the trophy— but his car was subsequently scrapped in the 1930s.
XR1981 was competitively driven until the end of the 1960s, in the course of which it won the prestigious St John Horsfall Trophy race at Silverstone in 1969. It then languished in the family garage, unused for nearly 40 years, before undergoing a five-year restoration that brought the car to its current condition.
It returned to Aston Hill in 2014, for the first time in 90 years, when Matt Baker drove the Cloverleaf up ‘The Hill’ for the BBC programme Countryfile. That climb was repeated the following year with celebrity chef Paul Hollywood at the wheel for a BBC documentary about the history of Aston Martin.
At the 2016 Concours of Elegance at Windsor Castle, XR 1981 was awarded the ‘Royal Automobile Club Concours’ trophy by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, the Club’s President, for the best car entered by the major car clubs in the UK.
The car is in the Club rotunda this week to celebrate a particular Aston Martin centenary. On the 6th/7th June 1919, Aston Martin entered its first ever motor sport event: the Motor Cycling Club’s London to Edinburgh Trial with Jack Addis (the company works’ foreman) at the wheel. [The MCC is the oldest sporting motor club for cars and motorcycles in the UK, founded 1901.] His navigator is believed to have been Charles Willson Shakel; he had worked with Addis at the aircraft factory of Sir Thomas Sopwith during the First World War. Addis was awarded a gold medal for arriving within the very tightly-timed schedules.
Displayed courtesy of Mark Donoghue and Tom Westley from Monday 3rd June to Sunday 9th June 2019.