A3 – Chassis No 3
It is quite an achievement to become 100 years old. If it is one of our senior citizens, then they can expect a telegram from the Queen and probably a birthday party. Her Majesty doesn’t however recognise the 100th birthday of motor cars, (even ones that are British nationals!) but the AMHT can certainly throw a good party and so a regal commemoration of our own was launched.
Back in 1921 Bamford and Martin Ltd. were working on their third prototype Aston Martin and laid down chassis No.3 with a 1500cc 38hp side-valve engine, a two-seater sports body, artillery wheels and a mechanical specification which didn’t include front brakes. Chassis No.3 enjoyed a very active few years as a factory prototype and achieved 86.2mph at Brooklands in the hands of Bertie Kensington-Moir to take several light car records and a 1922 win at the Kop Hill Climb. Sold off by the factory in 1923 the car was registered XN 2902 and given the chassis number 1918. It continued to be campaigned with enthusiasm before disappearing into obscurity as so many old cars do. According to the DVLA records there were plenty of owners in the next 80-odd years until it was obtained by the AMHT in 2002 and subsequently restored. Now commonly known as A3, the car is the jewel in the AMHT’s collection.
The AMHF preparation
Several venues were considered but a site visit to the beautiful Dallas Burston Polo Club in Warwickshire stood out head and shoulders above the others.
The AMHT is a public educational charity so, in addition to celebrating A3’s 100th anniversary, it was important that the event raised funds and that the AMHT met its charitable goals with an educational element. We wanted the Festival cars to be parked by era, so models with similar technology would be presented together and a physical account of the design and expertise of each era would be displayed. A guided walk-through Aston Martin’s history with information about how to understand the cars in each era carpark would provide the educational element, starting with A3 and ending with the latest products from Aston Martin. This timeline was given further provenance with displays from the Lagonda Club and Tickford Owners Club.
As an additional attraction various Aston Martin specialists were invited to take a trade stand and further strengthen the event showcasing their expertise in all areas from restoration, parts and servicing, accessories, and memorabilia.
The Festival day
It is hard to pick specific highlights but there was something for everyone to see, whatever their interest in Aston Martin. The pre-war era carpark featured a fabulous line up on the front row with side-valve 1926 sitting next to LM1, LM2 and LM3 all together – when did that last happen? Both Red Dragon and the Black Car Speed Models finished the pre-war line-up. The Feltham carpark featured every road car from Two Litre Sports to DB Mark III. The Newport Pagnell 6 Cylinder, V8 and the DB7 parking areas all featured Zagato bodied examples.
We were delighted to see great displays from our friends at both the Lagonda Club and the Tickford Owners Club whose cars form an important part of the wider Aston Martin story.
Across in the “modern field” almost every Gaydon era car could be found in a huge display of cars including two Cygnets. Limited edition cars abounded including Red Bull and Spitfire edition V12 Vantage S and Tag Heuer, 59 and OHMSS DBS Superleggera.
The special displays were fabulous. HWM Aston Martin brought a V12 Vantage V600, the Mr JWW Q Special Edition DBX and their flying technician service van. Prodrive brought their new club racer – the Vantage GT8R and the Le Mans 2020 #97 Vantage GTE Pro class winner, a car which few of us had ever seen as the race was run behind closed doors.
Aston Martin Lagonda Limited pulled out all the stops to display the F1 Safety & Medical Cars, a V12 Speesdster, DB5 Bond Recreation, Victor, and the incredible Valkyrie to accompany the current model range and bring the displays right up to date.
A3 was proudly the centre display in the AMHT marquee accompanied by a very special brand new model. The spirit of A3 has been captured in a limited edition of just 3 cars. Q by Aston Martin, in collaboration with HWM Aston Martin and AMHT created and designed the Vantage Roadster A3 Edition. What better way to commemorate and continue the legacy of A3!
For the first time the AMHT created a pop-up museum with three cabinets showing A3 related items, a general Museum display and a tiny selection of our huge model collection. We also had a large shop showcasing our merchandise which was well received by all and gratefully the AMHT made record sales.
Later, when the display cars had all been counted and added to the trade stand cars and number of tickets scanned at the gate, we were delighted to announce that there were a fantastic 681 Astons in attendance. Over £10,000 was raised for the AMHT funds and a very enjoyable day was had by one and all.