1938 Aston Martin 15/98 Short Chassis Open Sports

One of only fifty produced

Coachwork by. Abbey Coachworks Ltd.

Chassis No. B8/830/S0

Engine No. K7/835/S0

Registration No. ADP 758

+44 (0)1869 244 255

info@robertglover.com

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With external funding, Bill Renwick and Augustus “Bert” Bertelli, took over Aston-Martin in 1926, renaming the company Aston Martin Motors and moving motorcar production to Feltham in the process. Whilst financial problems were never far away and funding for and ownership of the company changed during his leadership, under the guidance of Bertelli as chief engineer and technical director, Aston Martin built a strong reputation for the production of reliable, robust, agile and sporting motorcars. The firm enjoyed plenty of competition success at the top level of international sports car racing during the inter war years, including the team prize at the 1934 Ulster TT and 3rdoverall at the 1935 Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

Prior to taking control of the Aston-Martin concern, Renwick and Bertelli had designed a 1½-Litre single overhead camshaft engine to sell as a proprietary unit. This first engine was fitted to an Enfield-Alldays chassis belonging to Bertelli, and that car, known as “Buzzbox,” was used as a test bed and survives to this day. The design proved to be hugely successful and was progressively developed for all Aston Martin models up until 1936. In dry sump “Ulster” form Aston Martin Motors had produced a superb 100mph sports car, but a motorcar only really obtainable by the incredibly wealthy. Aston Martin introduced the 2-Litre or “15/98” model in 1936 – the latter referring to the UK RAC versus actual bhp – with the idea of producing a more versatile and slightly more affordable car for the wider market.  Two works “Speed Model” cars were produced to contend the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in 1936, but the race was abandoned due to strikes in France. The Speed Model was produced and an option but the long-chassis 15/98 model was the most successful. To retain the interest of the sporting clientele and to utilise a surplus of stock parts, Aston Martin produced around 50 short-chassis 8’3” wheelbase chassis model. These 15/98s were mostly clothed in 2/4 Seater coachwork by Abbey Coachworks Limited and the Aston Martin offered for sale here is one of the few original surviving examples of the 50 “short-chassis” 2/4 seater examples produced.

Copy factory records, on file, indicate that this 15/98, chassis number, B8/830/S0 was supplied new to a Mr. R Burton Esq, of Paisley in Scotland on 2ndFebruary 1938 and registered ADP 758. The early ownership record is a little confusing as it appears that a Mr. N. Ruck Esq acquired the Aston Martin in 1938, but no date is attributed to the purchase and then ‘ADP 758’ returns to the ownership of R. Burton Esq, on 17thSeptember 1938. Regardless of what actually happened, ADP 758 appears to have remained with Mr. Burton until passing to Mr. Gillies of Edinburgh in 1939. The next change of ownership is noted in 1949 with the Aston Martin selling to D. Grafton and remaining in Edinburgh.

The ownership history of ADP 758 is then taken up by the continuation buff-logbook (also on file) which also shows that by the 1950s the car had crossed the border into England. As well as a number of ownership changes the logbook denotes a number of colour changes and a change of engine, from the original number, B8/830/S0, to K7/835/S0. An invoice shows that, on 16thMay 1960, ‘ADP 758’ was purchased by one William “Bill” Sewell, who’s family was to retain ownership of the Aston Martin until 2014. Having paid the princely sum of £120.10 pence, Bill Sewell restored the engine of the Aston Martin and during his ownership the car was raced at club level with photographs in the history file showing the ‘ADP 758’ (at this stage white/cream) on track with a Bentley as well as a very early side-valve Aston Martin. It appears that the car was restored in the late 1980s and then in the early 1990s passed to Richard Sewell.

The current owner purchased the Aston Martin in recent years in dismantled form. Since his acquisition of ‘ADP 758’ the current custodian has entrusted a number of specialists with the total restoration of ‘ADP 758’ from the ground up. The engine and gearbox were fully rebuilt and assembled with new internals by James Ricketts, well-known for his abilities with ERAs and other pre-war racing machinery. With the engine and gearbox completed, these units were returned for fitting while the body, now restored and repainted black with green upholstery, was also re-fitted to the chassis. Having been totally overhauled ‘ADP 758’ will undoubtedly require some of the usual “de-snagging” prevalent after the major restoration of any car. The engine will, of course, require some period of running in before being used to its full potential.

The “Bertelli” era Aston Martins from the interwar period are considered to be some of the best sports cars of the time and continue to prove themselves worthy contenders in retrospective events to this day. With a documented history from new and boasting a recent restoration ‘ADP 758’ will make the ideal steed for long distance, rally and touring events, could well be returned to the track and hillclimbs, and would be equally comfortable at Aston Martin Owners Club events. ‘ADP 758’ is a highly versatile sports-touring motorcar just as Aston Martin Motors had intended.