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Sutherland Aston Martin, 1936-1940

Production cars - Derivitives - The 15/98 (continued)

The ‘15/98’, was never described by the works as a ‘Sports Chassis’. It was accepted by all that it was a tourer and the catalogue quoted ‘whilst the ‘15/98’ is no mean performer it is offered not as a camouflaged racer but a safe all-purpose motor car having all the durability and lasting power of its forerunners’. Indeed the ‘The Autocar’ magazine described it as a ‘very different Aston Martin’, but praised it as being ‘softer, quieter and more flexible’ and that ‘its’ suitability for everyday purposes have increased out of all knowledge’. This was indeed then a very different motor car from the old 1½ litre cars, which with their dry sump engines and race tuned chassis were very much the result of racing, having without doubt, ‘improved the breed’. The new ‘15/98’ now a much more gentle beast, indeed, factory publicity tried hard to distance it from any association with motor racing.

By the beginning of 1938, with the sales of the ‘15/98’ being slightly disappointing, and only little over half the ‘Speed Models’ sold, a decision was made not to extend the production run of one hundred and fifty cars, which was completed by the middle of the year. The works also took on the sole responsibility of selling their own cars with Lance Pridaux-Brune’s Winter Garden Garage no longer as agent. He had never particularly liked the ‘15/98’, though he did order one last ‘signature’ drop head coupe on a long chassis. It was not a great success and no further replicas were made as had been the case with the ‘International’ and ‘Mark II’ versions. However, even though nothing in effect was in production, the works did still exist and continued to employ a highly skilled staff. Apart from expanding the service department, more and more of them were put to working on what was soon to become the war effort, mostly making components for the aircraft industry. Over the next couple of years, the remainder of the short chassis ‘15/98s’ and ‘Speed Models’ were assembled and sold, the last being a Type ‘C’ in July of 1940.

It was during this period, that Gordon Sutherland and Claude Hill (when his design skills were relatively under used) devised their stressed coachwork frame, made from square section tubing, the dimensions of which depended on the stresses. Using the works hack as a basis, (the first long chassis saloon made), they completely re- bodied it producing a slightly odd looking saloon with severely raked back radiator and high roof line. Very much a development exercise, it was however tested by the motoring press where it received high praise, being quiet, much stiffer and vibration free. It was at long last, in effect, the 2 litre saloon that should have been built in 1936, and though it was three years in development, they had in fact finally got there! This car known in the works as ‘Donald Duck’ was the for-runner of a short series of cars (the ‘Atom’, the ‘Spa Replica’ and the ‘2 litre Sports’) that were to pave the way in the immediate post war years leading up to the DB series of cars.

Specification: 1 - Short chassis 2/4 seater.

Length: 11’6". Under slung at the rear. Tapering from the front to the second pressed cross member (at the rear of the engine bay) and then parallel to the rear of the car. Tubular cross members at the front and the rear. Five pressed steel cross members.

Engine. The Claude Hill designed 2 litre overhead camshaft 8 valve engine with wet sump.
Twin SU 1 ¼" HV2 carburettors.
Bore: 78 mm. Stroke: 102 mm, 1949.57 cc.
Compression ratio: 7.75:1
Power : approximately 90 bhp at 5000 rpm.
Torque: approximately 95 lbft at 5000 rpm.
Magneto ignition (by Lucas)
Twin SU fuel pumps.

Transmission. A Moss gearbox was fitted, with double helical gears and synchromesh on 2nd, 3rd and 4th speeds. Mounted in unit with the engine and supported at the rear by a single silentbloc bush on a bracket bolted to the cross member. Ratios: 16.8:1, 9.84:1, 6.4:1, 4.67:1.

Steering. ‘Marles’ worm and peg, with thrust bearing at the top of the column.

Wheels and tyres. Rudge Whitworth 17" wellbase wire wheels, with 52 mm hubs with 3" wide rims. Tyres are 17 x 5.25.

Suspension. Semi elliptic leaf springs front and rear. ‘Hartford’ friction dampers were fitted at the front and ‘Luvax’ hydraulic shock absorbers at the rear.

Brakes. ‘Lockheed’ rod brakes front and rear with 14" steel drums and 1 ¾" wide shoes. The hand brake operates the rear brakes only.

Wheelbase: 8’ 3".
Track: 4’ 6 ½".
Length: 14’.
Height: 4’ 4".
Weight: 21 cwt.
Fuel tank capacity: 14 gallons.
Performance. Approximately 90mph.
Price. £575 (1937), reduced to £495 in 1938. Prices were reduced in 1938 ‘due to re-organization and improved methods of production enabling greatly increased output’. In fact the price reduction was to encourage sales.

Coachwork. The short chassis 2/4 seater has a ‘budget’ version of the E. Bertelli Ltd. 2/4 seater ‘Speed Model’ bodywork, with less shape and detailing in the panels to keep costs under control. It has a neat disappearing hood which folds down into a compartment at the rear. There is only a parcel shelf behind the two front seats and no opening boot. The spare wheel is fitted onto the sloping rear panel. The windscreen folds flat and has twin wind deflectors fitted which double as aero screens. Twin exhaust pipes with chromed outers exit the bonnet and pass through the front wing. The body tubs are timber framed and paneled in aluminium, but the wings of all the 15/98 variations are made of steel.

Specification: 2 - 15/98 Tourer. As 15/98 short chassis but:

Length: 12’ 11". The long chassis has reinforcement from a wider section cross member to the top of the chassis sides in an attempt to stiffen the whole chassis. Saloons and long tourers have a clamp type ‘dumb iron’ at the front and rear tubular cross members. A pressed steel bulkhead supports the firewall.

Wheelbase: 9’ 8".
Length: 15’ 6".
Weight: 24 cwt.
Performance Approximately 80 mph.
Price: £575

The long chassis tourer is a lengthened version of the 2/4 seater but proportioned appropriately to be able to accommodate four adults. The front wings are slightly higher leading to longer running boards. The rear panel is slightly steeper and has an opening boot with luggage shelf. The screen is a more simple design and does not have wind deflectors. The exhaust system exits beneath the car.

Specification: 3 - 15/98 Drop Head Coupe. As 15/98 short chassis but:
Weight: 22 cwt.
Price: £625 (1937), reduced to £525 in 1938.

The Drop Head Coupe, which is on the short chassis, is what would be described in the period as a ’Doctor’s Coupe’. The bodywork was by Abbott of Farnham. Slightly more upright than the 2/4 seater it is characterized by a fixed windscreen, wind up door windows and a hood which folds down onto the rear panel, which has an opening for a fully upholstered ‘dicky seat’. They were beautifully built inside, with polished wood cappings to the dash and doors and good quality fittings throughout.

Specification: 3 - 15/98 Saloon. As 4 Seater Tourer but:

The Saloon was fitted with 18" wheels and 5.25 tyres.
Height: 4’6"
Weight: 26 cwt
Price: £495

The Saloon, which were a genuinely ‘coachbuilt’ motor car with bodywork by E. Bertelli Ltd. were by any standards a high quality motor car. The body frames were beautifully constructed from seasoned ash and paneled in aluminium, though the wings were still steel. The four door bodywork was a roofed (mostly fitted with sliding roof panels) version of the long chassis 4 Seater tourer, which Harry Bertelli also designed and made. The interiors featured art deco fittings and were very luxurious. However the bodywork was heavy and at almost quarter of a ton more than the 2/4 seater this did nothing to improve the performance of the car.

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