When Bertelli took over Aston Martin in 1927 he immediately looked towards racing as a way to promote the brand and improve the cars. In 1928 he built two cars to race at the most prestigious sports car race in Europe, the Le Mans 24 hours, and he named these cars LM1 and LM2.
This lineage of cars used Aston’s own 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engines in light sporting bodies and all the parts used to build the cars were carefully chosen and often heavily modified to reduce weight. This weight saving work was extensive; the heavy forged front axles were machined on all faces, rubbed down and the centres were drilled out. Stub axles, kingpins, steering box brackets bulkheads were all also drilled or thinned in this quest for lightness. Parts were also made from very light (and expensive) materials most notably Electron (a magnesium and aluminium alloy) to replace aluminium, very cutting edge stuff during the 1920s.
By 1932, 7 LM cars had been built and Bertelli wanted to improve their design to incorporate the lessons they had learnt during the preceding years. These redesigned cars are now known as the second series and consist of the three cars built during 1932; LM8, LM9 and LM10.
These cars used the new chassis and a competition two-seat body with a pointed tail along with a new low-radiator design as well as all the previous modifications used on the earlier cars such as weight reduction and improvements to brakes, transmission and engine.
The three 1932 Works Cars LM8, LM9 and LM10 were built by the race department in eight weeks, just in time for the Brooklands ‘1000 Mile Race’ that was to be used as the test run before heading to Le Mans.
It was very hot for the 1932 Le Mans and as the collection of usual suspects arrived including Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Bugatti, Mercedes, Stutz, Aston Martin, Salmson and others it was clear that it was going to be a vintage year.
The closing hours of the race became a close affair with Aston Martin, Talbot and Caban all well placed to take the Cup should either of the others falter, and all the cars continued to have trouble with the poor fuel and their plugs. In the end it was Bertelli and Driscoll in Aston Martin LM8 who came through to claim seventh place overall and the Rudge Whitworth Cup, but it had not been an easy victory for them. The following Saturday LM8 was awarded the honour of opening the Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb to the warm applause of the crowd when it was driven by Bertelli and Newsome (driver of LM10).
At the end of 1932 due to financial constraints, the Works Cars were sold off by the factory. LM8 was bought by C.H. ‘Happy’ Wood who was a draughtsman at Aston Martin. He replaced the body with a 2/4 seater to match the low radiator and slab rear fuel tank. Happy kept the car until 1935 when he sold it to A.M Wicksteed who raced the car until 1939.
It is not known what happened to LM8 during the war except to say that it came through unscathed and is known to have been sold by P.A. Smith to Mr Arthur Steel in June 1951 for £395 who had the car recommissioned by Archie Allen in Bristol, which took the car off the road for a year. Arthur later sold the car in early 1955 to Angel Motors / The Waverley, in Camarthen for £210 who shortly after sold the car to Mr Paul Sykes in exchange for a Fiat Topolino and £50.
Paul used the car for many years as his only means of transport before eventually parking it up in a barn in Wales. The car remained there for many years before being brought out and used again and in recent years the car has undergone a major mechanical restoration by renowned Aston Martin specialist Rob Davies.
The mechanicals now boast a new crank, rods, pistons and valves, an Ulster cam and straight cut gears with Le Mans ratio. The car retains the attractive touring 2/4 body that the factory fitted at the end of 1932 and it has been beautifully reupholstered in the original spec dark green leather with a new tonneau and hood.
LM8 is one of the very few pre-war Aston Martins to have won international racing awards, which gives it a special place in the marque’s history. It is now being offered for sale for the first time since 1955, by the Classic Motor Hub.