1931 Aston Martin 1.5-liter International ‘LM5’

by | May 16, 2019

Scott Pattenden ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

1931 Aston Martin 1.5-liter International ‘LM5’

by | May 16, 2019

Scott Pattenden ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

YEAR

1931

MODEL

1.5-liter International ‘LM5’

MANUFACTURER

Aston Martin

ESTIMATE (US)

$1,123,000 - $1,573,000

CHASSIS NUMBER

10659

AUCTION COMPANY

RM Sotheby's

AUCTION DATE

May 25

This year Aston Martin is celebrating the 60th anniversary of Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori’s victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which they accomplished in an Aston DBR1.

But even 60 years ago, Aston had already been a longtime entrant in the French classic with involvement in the race dating back to the early 1920s. Founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, Aston went through a series of owners in fairly rapid fashion. (Happily, it also avoided the name Bamford Martin. “Aston” comes from Aston Hill, a venue where Martin raced some of his early cars.) In 1925 the company came under the ownership of investors headed by A.C. “Bert” Bertelli, who was a believer in racing as a means of promotion.

His enthusiasm for motorsport led to a series of race cars called LMs, and the car on the block at Villa Erbe is LM5, first of the racers built for 1931. It looks perfect for the era, cycle-fendered with low side cutouts instead of doors. The tall, proud Aston radiator stands at attention ahead of a dry sump 1.5-liter overhead cam 4-cylinder that could propel the car to 90 mph.

Aston raced a trio of LMs in 1931 at famed tracks such as Brooklands and Le Mans. LM5 dropped out of the 24-hour race but scored a class win in the RAC Tourist Trophy event. Combined successes of the three LM’s proved Bertelli’s belief in racing and secured more Depression-era corporate funding.

After racing, Aston reworked some of the competition cars with more accommodating bodies making them easier to sell. LM5 was graced with 2/4-seater coachwork that has proper doors. It passed through several owners until Roland Hirons bought it for £185. He must have been pleased with this purchase for he kept the Aston for more than 50 years.

It has since been through a restoration that respected the LM5’s originality. The car even comes with its Instruction Manual.

To put the 1931 LM5’s proposed value into modern Aston perspective, it’s about the same amount as the automaker’s upcoming mid-engine AM-RB 003 supercar. That would make a pretty pair in the same garage.

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