The bulk of production from late 1932 and continuing through to the third series cars in 1934 was taken up by the short chassis ‘Le Mans’. A 2/4 seater with a simple parcel shelf in the rear, it was one of the most attractive cars made by Aston Martin. The three ‘lever over’ type filler caps (oil, water and fuel) were a unique Aston Martin design, functional and attractive, they were a detail typical of the greater emphasis on the sporting nature of the cars. With the iconic chromed radiator and headlamps both with chromed mesh stone guards (an optional extra taken up by most new owners), the chromed exhaust outers leading into the ‘Brooklands’ type exhaust box, the external ‘slab’ fuel tank and not least the ‘humped’ scuttle it was indeed every inch a sports car. The fuel tanks were quite large for a medium sized car, and proved to be troublesome. A good part of the problem stemmed from the mounting of the spare wheel on a fabricated bracket bolted to the reinforced rear face of the tank. Located between the two riveted baffles, the weight of the spare wheel opened up the rivets and caused leaks. A stopgap solution was to attach wires around the swages of the tank secured through the cross member at the bottom and through the timber body frame at the top. Unfortunately this then put severe stresses into the body frame around the rear of the car and was the cause of cracks in the aluminium body skin around the rear corners of the tub. A more practical solution was found for the later ‘MKII’ but only after further experimentation. Bigger and more stable than contemporary MGs, Rileys and Wolsleys but smaller and more nimble than Alvis, Lagondas and Bentleys, it perfectly filled the medium sized sports car niche. With good performance for a relatively heavy car with only a 1½ litre engine, (but considerably aided by the new second series cylinder head), the handling was excellent and it lent itself perfectly to both racing and rallying.
1. The ‘Competition 2 Seater’.
The ‘Competition 2 seater’ was the first complete second series design and very different from all the earlier first series cars. With much lower and more sharply ‘V’ shaped wet case radiator, supported on ‘Silentbloc’ bushes in brackets mounted on the chassis; the coachwork back from the radiator was sleek and purposeful. Behind the radiator were two rows of indented cooling louvers, stamped into the top of bonnet, each one longer than the one in front reflecting the increasing width of the car. An expensive expanding louvre press tool would have been required to make these, and this was typical of the understated but stylish coachwork of E. Bertelli Ltd. Ending in a neat pointed tail with two narrow doors it was not a car for the ‘larger Gentleman’, but did provide a much smaller frontal area and with its fold flat windscreen was much more aerodynamic. With the sporty coachwork came considerable attention to the weight of the car, with much of what was aluminium in the ‘New International’ and short chassis ‘Le Mans’, being made in an expensive magnesium/aluminium alloy known as ‘Electron’. Furthermore, the engine had higher compression ratios and larger carburettors giving a useful increase in power. Though still relatively heavy for a 1.5 litre car, the ‘Competition 2 seater’ was an extremely attractive and pure sports car, more than capable of holding its own against most of the competition in its class.
Chassis. Second series chassis. 11’ 6" in length. Two aluminium side plate castings were fitted, slightly shorter and stiffer than the ‘New International’, with pressed steel plate between them, otherwise very similar.
Bore 69.3 mm, stroke 99 mm, 1495 cc.
Compression ratio: 7.5:1, using second series cylinder head with improved porting and new inlet manifold.
Power: approximately 70 bhp at 4750 rpm.
Torque: approximately 65 lb ft.
Twin 1 ¼" SU side draught. E4 needle in .090" jet.
Two ‘Autopulse’ pumps mounted on the rear of the chassis.
Transmission. Aston Martin designed four speed crash gearbox with constant mesh mainshaft and layshaft and dog clutch 4th speed, with straight cut gears. Electron casing, mounted in unit with the engine on an ‘Electron’ bellhousing. Clutch is Borg and Beck dry plate with six spring cover plate. The final drive was by shaft to an ENV differential. Ratios: 12.968:1, 8.105:1, 5.93:1, 4.66:1.
Steering. ‘Marles’ worm and floating peg with hemispherical bearings.
Wheels and Tyres. ‘Rudge Whitworth’ 52 mm 18" well base wire wheels with sixty spokes and 2⅜" rims fitted with 4.75/500 tyres.
Suspension. Semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear with ‘Hartford’ friction dampers.
Brakes. 14" diameter electron drums with shrunk in steel liners and cam operated 1½" electron shoes, mounted on two pivots. Brakes actuated by fully enclosed Bowden cables via two brake cross shafts in spherical bearings linked by short pushrod. Handbrake works on all four brakes.
Wheelbase: 8’ 6".
Track: 4’ 4".
Length: 12’ 8".
Width: 5’ 5".
Height: 4’ 9".
Weight: 19 cwt.
Fuel tank capacity: 11 gallons.
Coachwork. A new low, more sharply ‘V’ed radiator with wet tank and integral stone guard. Two seat pointed tail sports bodywork with humped scuttle. Fold flat windscreen . Spare wheel mounted on the near side. Exhaust now exits the bonnet side as two downpipes from two cast iron manifolds merging into one pipe just before the ‘Brooklands’ type box mounted on two spring steel multi-leaf brackets from the chassis. ‘Helmet type’ wings were fitted.
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