GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our Le Mans Aston Martins Film Shoot
If a modern car finishes the 24 Hours of Le Mans it is thought of as being a competent and well-built endurance machine, but surviving the day-long test of speed and reliability in the early decades of motorsport was an achievement of an entirely different degree. Still recuperating after World War 1 in the mid 1920s, Aston Martin hired A.C. “Bert” Bertelli to lead the marque’s technical development, and being a racing driver himself, Bertelli knew the importance of endurance racing as both a tool for marketing and mechanical evolution.
He led Aston Martin back to Le Mans with a new series of appropriately named LM cars, and though they didn’t topple the mighty Alfa Romeos in France, they were strong contenders and important pieces of racing history. For today’s film, we’ve assembled three of these special Astons—LM8, LM9, and LM10—to revisit the story.
A believer in the credo “racing improves the breed,” Bertelli was mindful that the components of the brand’s production street cars bear more than passing resemblances to the parts that were found in the works team’s LM cars—after all, their technologies were meant to both market and trickle down into the road cars. Bertelli still went to extreme lengths to remove weight and extract power from the factory team cars that he worked on as both head of development and driver, for this wasn’t a story of a former racer finding a desk job on the other side of the pit wall, but rather a man in charge of a motorsport program that he was also an active participant in.
Between his remarkable 1.5L overhead cam four-cylinder engine and his unique ability to translate observations from behind the wheel into tangible engineering that addressed them, Bertelli defined an era of Aston Martin racing history. The LM series of cars built during that time are unlikely to yield a very liquid or low-priced market, and the works racing cars even less so. But it’s often the case that today’s treasured objects were once just last-year’s regular objects, and like many car companies used to do, Aston Martin wasn’t too bothered with letting those go.
For instance, LM8 was retired after the finish of the 1932 event, wherein it was purchased by a draftsmen working at Aston Martin named Happy Wood, who rather than preserve the car that was still a very young piece of a very short history at that point, did what draftsmen do and drew a new body for it, which it wears to this day.
LM9 and LM10 were yet to discharged from official service though, and they returned to Le Mans in 1933. Between the three of these nearly 90 year old cars, we are looking at six Le Mans participations. Endurance is relative to the timeline you choose, but these Aston Martins have bragging rights on at least two of them.