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Aston Martin F1 - what went wrong?


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#1 Barry Boor

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Posted 16 March 2002 - 18:47

Twice in the early part of 1959, the Aston Martin F1 car started a major race (though not a Grand Prix) from the front of the grid. In one of those races, at Silverstone, Roy Salvadori finished second and also set fastest lap.

That fastest lap was 1. 40.0, which was only 0.8 seconds slower than Stirling Moss' pole position time.

So my question is, why did the whole thing fizzle out so badly? Was it simply that the Sports Car Championship was more important, or were there other, deeper reasons?

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#2 Rob29

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Posted 16 March 2002 - 20:39

By the following season front engined cars were clearly obsolete. I noticed that in 59 they only ran at the the faster circuits. Why did they not develop a rear engined car? Maybe their image did not fit those 'funny little cars'

#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 16 March 2002 - 21:06

They also had a fairly long inline six power unit. It would have been harder to package in the back, and they would have no doubt been thinking 'Auto Union'...

#4 bobbo

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Posted 16 March 2002 - 23:36

I would suspect that money, or lack of it, was also a part of the equation. And, as Ray Bell suggested, their 6 cyl. engine was just a wee bit long for the new rear engined machines. Although I vaguely recall seeing a photo of a Cooper variant with a (Bristol??) 6 cyl. in the back, around 1958 - 59.

Bobbo

#5 Roger Clark

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 00:17

THe Aston Martin Grand Prix car was obsolete by the time it appeared. Some say that it was a year late, but it looks more like a 1956/57 design to me. I think those two front row starts say more about Roy Salvadori (the most under-rated driver of 1959?) than they do about the car. THere was apparantly a mistake in the lubrication system of the engine which meant that revs had to be severly curtailed over a race distance. In the International Trophy, Salvadori's bearings wouldn't have lasted much longer.

Having said that, Grand Prix racing was always a poor second to sports Cars as far as David Brown was concerned. John Wyer was't interested at all. By the end of 1959, Aston Martin had achieved their goals in racing (Le Mans) and all the company's effort went into getting the DB4 into productin.

I beleive they did consider a rear engined car in 1960, but by that time the formula was in its last year and they had no engine remotely suitable for the new formula.

The Cooper-Bristol mentioned by bobbo would be the car based on the bob-tail sports car in which Jack Brabham made his Grand Prix debut at aintree in 1955. It was a historic event, because although it wasn'tthe first Cooper to appear in Grand Prix racing, it was the first of the line which lead to the great revolution in racing car design at the end of the 1950s.

#6 David McKinney

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 10:12

Originally posted by Roger Clark
The Cooper-Bristol mentioned by bobbo would be the car based on the bob-tail sports car in which Jack Brabham made his Grand Prix debut at aintree in 1955.

The 1958/59 reference suggests bobbo's car would in fact be the Cooper-BG-Bristol built and raced by Bob Gerard in 1957 and 1958. I think this car had its own model number (T44) but was very close to the T43 design. The car turned up in historic racing in Europe a few years ago.

#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 11:04

Further to my suggestion about engine length, I would say that the Aston engine was longer than the Bristol by a fair margin, three or maybe four inches at a guess...

In addition to this, Cooper were very much used to sticking the engine in the rear, Aston weren't... it would have been a whole new ball game to them.

#8 Roger Clark

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 11:32

Originally posted by David McKinney

The 1958/59 reference suggests bobbo's car would in fact be the Cooper-BG-Bristol built and raced by Bob Gerard in 1957 and 1958. I think this car had its own model number (T44) but was very close to the T43 design. The car turned up in historic racing in Europe a few years ago.


Yes it could, but I assumed that bobbo had got the year slightly wrong as the Brabham car is so much better known. Apologies to all.

#9 bobbo

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 13:33

Thank you Roger!!

That was the car I was thinking of!! Just couldn't remember what model and who the driver was!

Bobbo

THINK IRISH!!

#10 Doug Nye

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 14:18

Just as an aside - Frank Gardner went to work for Aston Martin as a racing mechanic when he first arrived in the UK from Australia. "Now I'm really going to learn something", he said to himself. And after the first week he'd twigged - "But they did everything just the way we'd have done it back home, except their bodges weren't as good...".

Aston's F1 programme had seemed like a good idea when first envisioned - 1955-56 period - and when Reg Parnell first ran the single-seater version of the DB3S (now there's a bodge if ever there was one) in New Zealand. They designed a very good lightweight small-tube chassis, they had a good enough engine of very similar shape, size and weight to Maserati's 250F, and if it had all come together and run in 1957 then the story might have been rather different.

As it was - the prototoype DBR4/250 not emerging until 1959 - they had already missed the boat.

My understanding has been that David Brown had authorised the funding for a sensible F1 programme through 1959 - while the racing department was planning to concentrate its sports car effort solely upon Le Mans with any serious intent. Then Moss talked Brown into loaning him one of the DBR1/300 sports cars for the ADAC 1,000Kms at Nurburgring - and he and Jack Fairman won it outright, scoring maximum Sports Car World Championship points. Suddenly F1 struck Brown as a diversion from what best sold his production cars. I'm pretty certain John Wyer had always inclined to that view. Hence the significance of Le Mans became magnified, so an even bigger effort was made there. And they won again. By that time they had recognised the writing on the wall for the obsolescent F1 design - and while that programme spluttered on into 1960 with the lightened DBR5/250s, it was never more than half-hearted.

DCN

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 22:19

At least it gave us one thing out here...

Lex Davison imported an Aston with the 3-litre engine to prove the front engined cars weren't dead... ran a very close race with Alec Mildren's Cooper Maserati at Lowood (1960 AGP) to lose by less than a tenth of a second.

I understand that if we want more Frank G stories we have to get in quickly, by the way...

#12 bobbo

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Posted 17 March 2002 - 23:15

Sorry it's not a Frank GArdner story,but here's the Aston MArtin F1 record acording to FORIX:

1959

Netherlands: Roy Salvadori Qual. 13, dnf (engine)
Carroll Shelby Qual. 10 dnf (engine)

Great Britain: Roy Salvadori Qual. 2 (!!!) finish 6
Carroll Shelby Qual. 6 dnf (ignition)

Portugal Carroll Shelby Qual. 13 finish 8
Roy Salvadori Qual. 12 finish 6

Italy Carroll Shelby Qual. 19 dnf (engine)
Roy Salvadori Qual. 17 finish

1960

Netherlands Roy Salvadori Not Started

Great Britain Roy Salvadori Qual. 13 dnf (Steering)
Maurice Trintignant Qual. 21 finish 11

Not a great record for such a LOVELY car . . .

Bobbo

#13 uechtel

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 17:23

Doug,

...and when Reg Parnell first ran the single-seater version of the DB3S (now there's a bodge if ever there was one) in New Zealand.



is this the car?

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#14 Doug Nye

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 18:10

Yes it is.

#15 RTH

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 18:59

Originally posted by Doug Nye
[B
Yes it is. [/B]


Mr Nye, Sir, it's time you did another one of those simply splendid all through the night channel 4 motor racing discussion marathons - a group of well known motor racing wordsmiths sitting in comfy armchairs around a roaring log fire talking racing back to the year dot with old racing footage in between the whole event taking about 7 hours . Fantastic.

The two so far were just wonderful - despite my letter or praise at the time to the controller of ch4 no sign yet of another.

Can we leave it with you to get a new one underway ?

#16 David McKinney

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 19:12

I'll second that

#17 Doug Nye

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 20:23

Errmm yersss well ... I've got a feeling we've been here before in a previous thread. The first of those programmes seemed to work OK and attracted an audience which (I gather) stunned C4 into commisioning another. But this time they wanted a celeb as its centrepiece - Moss - and the relevant execs worked themselvs into a lather - I presume - along the lines that "If a bunch of greasy fingered motor car people can attract an audience of X then with celebrity Mr Motor Racing on board we can now expect an audience of X x 10, whoopee nerdle, let's look forward to the bonuses lads...".

When the audience actually attracted proved to be one of only X again plus Mrs Ada Trellis from Frinton (whose remote control had gone wrong) they promptly dropped the entire notion.

Television people... :rolleyes: ... and even the bloke who put it on in the first place had pinched the idea from someone else...

DCN

#18 Bladrian

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 20:26

Ah, yes - motor racing and it's imponderable X factor. Even Bernie got that one wrong. :rotfl:

#19 RTH

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 10:17

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Doug Nye
[B]Errmm yersss well ...

When the audience actually attracted proved to be one of only X again plus Mrs Ada Trellis from Frinton (whose remote control had gone wrong) they promptly dropped the entire notion.

Television people... :rolleyes: ... and even the bloke who put it on in the first place had pinched the idea from someone else...

DCN

................. Ada Trellis didn't she drive an MG at Brooklands with Barbara Cartland ?

What was so good about that first programme was that it did not have any "performers" in it and the discussion was none scripted and was just like a bunch of chaps sitting chatting motor racing and watching some great old footage something we could all identify with .

I want to see it back it could at least be an annual event . God knows its got nothing to beat in the schedules -- just have a look at todays Radio Times .... all these channels full of rubbish and repeats

Doug, if you have any contacts or influence in these matters please have a go for us I'm sure the readers could list:-

Guests , Subjects, Films ? It made excellent television and especially now when the current motorsport serving is so drab.

Who should we write to ?

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#20 Alan Lewis

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 13:14

Originally posted by Doug Nye
... Mrs Ada Trellis from Frinton ...


Is she related to Mrs. Trellis of North Wales?

(This isn't going to mean a thing unless you know what "ISIHAC" is)

APL

#21 Vitesse2

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 13:21

Originally posted by Alan Lewis


Is she related to Mrs. Trellis of North Wales?

(This isn't going to mean a thing unless you know what "ISIHAC" is)

APL


More an ISIRTA man myself .... :p

#22 RTH

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 13:23

Perhaps we could have a outside broadcast direct from Mornington Crescent !

#23 Doug Nye

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 19:30

Originally posted by Alan Lewis
Is she related to Mrs. Trellis of North Wales? (This isn't going to mean a thing unless you know what "ISIHAC" is) APL


Elder sister. Well spotted. A fellow fan...

DCN

#24 David Beard

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 20:02

Originally posted by RTH
Perhaps we could have a outside broadcast direct from Mornington Crescent !


For those who are baffled...try this link. :up:

http://www.g0akh.got...ostbag_Page.htm

She didn't seem to mention aforesaid show, mind.

#25 Alan Lewis

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 20:38

Originally posted by Vitesse2


More an ISIRTA man myself .... :p


Well I must admit I'm a firm disciple of The Goon Show camp (for all that it ended four years before I was born), but ISIHAC is one of the finest expressions of British culture these last three decades.

Hmmm, I wonder if we could start a thread to play Mornington Crescent's close relative, Brooklands?

APL

#26 RTH

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 09:44

So many unanswered questions about the enigmatic Ada Trellis - Why is she now in Frinton? -What happened to the family seat in north Wales ? Has she fallen on hard times ? What became of the family garden fence business? Surely the Butler would have operated the remote control ? What exactly was her relationship with Stirling ?

I think we should be told.

#27 petefenelon

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 12:18

Originally posted by Alan Lewis


Well I must admit I'm a firm disciple of The Goon Show camp (for all that it ended four years before I was born), but ISIHAC is one of the finest expressions of British culture these last three decades.

Hmmm, I wonder if we could start a thread to play Mornington Crescent's close relative, Brooklands?

APL


Mornington Crescent was closed all last weekend - and of course you can't get *on* at Camden Town on Sunday afternoons. Oh and there was no Central Line. And the usual bunch of stations in the City were in knip. And Green Goddesses were wild at Tower Hill on at least one occasion. Made for a difficult tournament-level game I'll tell you!

pete

#28 David Beard

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 18:05

Originally posted by Barry Boor
Twice in the early part of 1959, the Aston Martin F1 car started a major race (though not a Grand Prix) from the front of the grid. In one of those races, at Silverstone, Roy Salvadori finished second and also set fastest lap.


I've just stumbled upon this Daily Express report of the event. Mr Cardew is very excited about the car's future!

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I don't know whether this will work but try clicking on this text for a larger image

#29 Roger Clark

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 22:37

It's amazing that the press still couldn't see the writing on the Surbiton garage wall.

The truncated article on the right is interesting. It appears to be about the Grand Prix of Spa, one of the few races won by Godin de Beaufort. The race didn't get a mention in Autosport, Motor Sport had a brief report, yet the Daily Express reported it. Possibly something to do with the fact that a lady driver Isabelle de Tomaso, finished second?

#30 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 22:51

Basil Cardew was a nice, rather twee and precious old boy who was soppy as a box of frogs and knew absolutely NOTHING about motor cars and even less about motor racing.

He'd drive - or more probably ride - in a new model press launch car for maybe as much as half an hour, then retire to the hotel bar waiting to be entertained to lunch by the manufacturer's press and PR officers. He'd then enthuse in 'The Express' about the new Austin 1100 (say) which he had just experienced on behalf of the British consumer "...over many miles of arduous testing in the Alpes Maritimes...". It was all complete eyewash.

He also memorably described a new 3-litre Formula 1 car as being fitted with "...revolutionary transistorised transmission...".

Fleet Street journalism - they're still out there, too...

DCN

#31 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 23:06

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Fleet Street journalism - they're still out there, too...

DCN


Oh yes indeedy- check out the article on Bernie in the Sunday Express Richest in Britain list tomorrow. Among the prize quotes is Bernie buying "Jochen Rindt's Brabham F1 team" in 1970 :rolleyes:

Our favourite trawlerman's son still checks in at number one though, despite the fall in value of Slec's holdings. He's apparently made some astute property deals recently .... :