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Aston Martin First Series

The ‘International’, Derivatives (continued).

5. The "Le Mans" Two-Seater Sports Model

Towards the end of the first series, a small number of replicas of the two seater team cars were built, known as the "International" Le Mans (not to be confused with the later 1933 "Le Mans" model). Five were built with two seater coachwork similar to the works’ team cars, with fold flat windscreens, but with doors. The "Le Mans" Two-Seater Sports Model had the 4½" lower radiators of the team cars which gave them a particularly sporting appearance, and a close ratio gearbox which gave them a performance to match their looks. The exhaust exited the bonnet in two downpipes and entered a ‘Brooklands’ exhaust box and was finished in a fishtail. It had only a single filler cap to the fuel tank. One of these cars had outside gearlever and handbrake (an option, but one very rarely taken up) outboard of a ‘dummy’ door, by special order. Two out of the seven produced by Bertelli were fitted with 2/4 seater coachwork similar to the short chassis "International" but with pronounced humped scuttle and external slab fuel tank at the rear. This body shape was effectively the prototype for the 1933 "Le Mans". A third body was fitted to the works team car, (chassis no LM5), in 1932. Freestone and Webb also built a very similar body on one of the five original two seater cars, so that in total, four cars had very similar 2/4 seater humped scuttle coachwork. It was equipped as standard with six inch Jaeger instruments, and radiator and headlamp stone guards. The headlamps were fitted with double filament bulbs.

Specification. As Four-Seater "International" Sports Model, but with lower radiator, outside exhaust and a gas flowed cylinder head. They were fitted with a pair of 1¼" carburetors. Gear box ratios were closer and slightly more sporting: 14.02:1 8.74:1 5.93:1 4.66:1. Electron was substituted in place of aluminium wherever possible. Price £650

6. The ‘Coupe’.

Lance Prideaux-Brune, owner of the Automobile Service Company at the Winter Garden Garages, admired the new Aston Martin. He was later to give financial assistance to the company and become a director. He was also a keen rally competitor and ordered a one off coupe from Aston Martin to participate in the 1932 RAC rally. Harry Bertelli designed a handsome drop head coupe body on the short "International" chassis. It was very expensive at £715 and no more than two examples were produced, however at least two very similar cars were bodied by outside coachbuilders.

Specification. As Four-Seater "International" Sports Model.

7. The Sportsman’s Coupe.

The’ Sportsman coupe’, was a slightly ungainly fixed head design, based on the long "International" chassis. It had louvred valances to cover the chassis, and at least one had shutters over the radiator. One of them had its interior upholstered in pigskin, and another painted bright yellow with black wings. They were even more expensive at £750 and only three were made.

Specification. As Two Door Saloon.

8. The Fixed Head Coupe.

A one off fixed head coupe car was ordered by wealthy ship owner W. S. Headlam. Though rather cramped inside due to it being built on a short chassis, the car was nevertheless one of Harry Bertelli’s finest creations and a perfect example of English coach building at its very best.

Specification. As Four Seater "International" Sports Model.

9. The two seater ‘International’ Sports.

Using the same chassis and mechanical specification of the Four Seater ‘International’ Sports, E. Bertelli Ltd. built six, two-seater bodied cars. Almost identical to the four-seater up to the scuttle, they had stubby tails, very similar to the earlier two seater ‘Standard Sports Model’, but with the spare wheel mounted at the extreme rear. The hood, in a bag, simply sat on the rear of the bodywork. It must have been quite claustrophobic with the hood erected.

Specification. As Four-Seater "International" Sports Model.

From 1930, an ‘Ulster’ version of the ‘International’ engine was offered for an extra £50. The top of the combustion chamber was lowered by ⅛" and the ports tidied up, thereby improving the gas flow and increasing the compression ratio. This gave 56 bhp at 4500 rpm and would have made the lower and lighter "Le Mans" Two-Seater Sports model respectably fast for its day (particularly for a 1½ litre car) with up to 90 mph possible. This ’Ulster’ engine was an early example of Bertelli taking advantage of his racing programme to promote his production cars, and ‘Ulster’ was of course later to be used to name the racing version of the ‘Mark II’

In 1931 the Supercharged ‘International’ Sports Chassis was catalogued, but none were ever produced. At £720 pounds for the rolling chassis only, it was very expensive. A Power Plus supercharger was to be fitted between the dumb irons and driven from the front end of the crankshaft. Still dry sump, no mention was made of where the oil tank would be re-located. It was also advertised as having ‘Central Control’ to ‘provide greater rigidity as well as to save weight, and enables a narrower body to be used without either cramping the driver or putting the levers outside’. It is not clear whether this meant a central single seat body, but a footnote in the catalogue noted ‘We shall be pleased to discuss details of any type of body required and submit drawings or photographs, together with quotation for body to customers’ ideas.’

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