1924 Aston-Martin Side Valve
£300,000 | Location: United Kingdom
This is an extremely rare opportunity to acquire one of the first Aston-Martin cars. Only around 60 of these were made and far fewer than that survive today. The design for this car set the standard and direction for all other Aston Martins, they were made to the highest standards, came with several options allowing the buyer to specify the car in detail and they performed exceptionally well (guaranteed to lap Brooklands at a minimum average speed of 65 mph). The vast majority of parts used in manufacture were bespoke to Bamford & Martin and as a consequence there are almost as many drawings for the Bamford & Martin cars as all the other pre-war cars put together. They are a real jewel of a car!
This 1924 Aston Martin Side Valve Tourer was acquired from Eric Benfield as a project by renowned restorer Keith Taylor in 2002. Benfield was a well known and highly-respected member of the VSCC who was known to have an eye for interesting early racing cars. Indeed, he was best known for resurrecting the important 200 mile Brooklands racing Alvis and competing with it at numerous events. Over his lifetime he amassed a large collection of early Aston Martin parts, but sadly ill health prevented him from assembling them into a complete car and thus these were purchased by Taylor, including:
- an original chassis frame (Frame no. 1955)
- an original engine (Engine no. 1931)
- an original front axle
- back axle internals
- steering box
- steering wheel
- numerous sundry parts and ancillaries
Keith Taylor was a highly qualified engineer and immensely skilled restorer. He then embarked on the restoration with meticulous detail. The original chassis frame sourced by Eric Benfield in Australia had been shortened and was entrusted to specialist Nick Jarvis to be taken back to its original long chassis specification using original chassis pieces from another shortened chassis. The mechanical components were restored by Taylor himself.
To ensure mechanical reliability, a new crankshaft and connecting rods were fitted. For enhanced performance a camshaft of new design was manufactured and supplied by Ecurie Bertelli. The car benefits from a new axle casing as the original parts are noted for their fragility. A decision was made to recreate the splendid 4‐seat touring coachwork that had been produced by Albany Coachworks Ltd and which had been fitted to the long chassis car when it was delivered to Rev Capt Ward in 1924. The construction of the coachwork was entrusted to noted specialist John Selway. The car was then finished in black with nickel‐plated brightwork, and upholstered in the correct deep buttoned brown leather by Keith Taylor’s son Julian, himself one of the best specialists in vintage motoring upholstery. The full weather equipment was also completed by Taylor Jnr to his usual high standards. The original radiator was re‐cored and the original bulkhead repaired. New wire wheels were built and fitted with 710 x 90 beaded edge tyres. The vehicle benefits from a power socket discreetly hidden under the dashboard for mobile phone/Satnav and in addition to the original lighting equipment has discreet indicators and large rear lights for ease of use in modern traffic.
The project took roughly ten years to complete and is finished to the very highest possible standards. The end result is not only a very rare motor car, but an extremely attractive and usable early vintage sports car. Such is the rarity of these early Aston Martins that, since the completion of the restoration, this car has spent much of its time on display in the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire. It has, nonetheless, seen regular use and thus any of the ‘niggles’ that are invariably discovered following a major restoration have been ironed out.
Recently serviced by Ecurie Bertelli which included repairs and setting up of the Hele Shaw multi plate clutch, this car works very well indeed. It is a wonderful to drive, spritely and perfectly capable of keeping up with modern traffic. It has delightfully good handling and brakes and is a delight on the road. Admired by anyone who sees it, this would be a stunning addition to any garage.