Racing has always been a way for marque's to showcase their talents and their products to a wide audience. It was often said that to win on Sunday meant strong sales on Monday. Aston Martin's early history was filled with racing in many different series, gaining success on an international level. By the early 1960s, they had withdrawn their efforts after winning a World Sportscar Championship and a Victory at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1959. After the companies racing efforts ceased, they relied on their winning season, and proven heritage to help stimulate sales. Their return to racing would take many years, though they were always very close to the scene. During the mid-1960s, they supplied Lola with V8 engines for their T70 Coupes. The engines were unreliable and Lola quickly switched to Chevrolet power.
From 1977 through 1979, Robin Hamilton raced Aston Martins at LeMans. The cars were heavily modified production cars that were met with little success at the grueling endurance race. Undeterred, Hamilton continued to find an Aston Martin combination worth of its heritage. With financial backing from Pace Petroleum, he was able to successfully marry a Lola chassis and an Aston Martin V8 engine prepared by Tickford. The combination had proven to be a disaster a few years prior; this time Hamilton was determined to make it work. Instead of using the name 'Aston Martin' to adorn the vehicle, it was dubbed the Nimrod. The Nimrod was ready by late 1981 and made its racing debut the following season. It would continue in competition for four years, often being met with mild success. The vehicle Achilles heals was the Tickford prepared engine, which suffered from reliability issues. In 1983, a second Nimrod team was formed; it was founded by Pink Floyd manager Steve O'Rourke. In 1984, a third team was added, the Cheetah. All of the teams were plagued by the same problem - the engine. They continued racing with the chassis and engine combination until the close of the 1985 season.
Mid-way through the 1986 season, Aston Martin returned to their roots by creating a new racer for Group C competition. The V8 engine had proven unreliable and unworthy on two separate occasions, but Aston Martin felt the 'third time's the charm.' Reeves Callaway and his Connecticut based business was tasked with preparing the newly developed quad-cam engine. Ecurie Ecosse was tasked with the development of the new car. The chief designer was Max Boxstrom of Brabham fame. The chassis was monocoque constructed from composite materials. The tub was formed from carbon fiber and the body shell from kevlar. The final exotic material used was honeycomb for the floors. The suspension was comprised of double wishbones. Mounted mid-ship was the 5.3-liter Callaway prepared engine. A larger six-liter engine followed a short time later. The 5.3-liter unit created around 570 horsepower while the 6.0-liter version produced nearly 700 bhp. Sitting on top of the five-speed gearbox was the radiator. On top of that was the rear wing.
The car was in ready in 1988, but many had wondered if the project would have continued. Ford had acquired a controlling 75% portion of Aston Martin Lagonda's stock in September of 1987, and this expensive project was a promising potential to cross the chopping block. To everyone's surprise, the project continued. In October of 1988, the AMR1 was completed and proudly wore the white, red, and blue livery of its Mobil 1 and Goodyear sponsorship. The car was tested during the close of the 1988 season, and prepared for 1989. Thirty years prior, Aston Martin had ended its racing career on a high note. Its return to the sport had many with high expectations, though an understanding that much had changed since that era.
During one of the cars early outings, it was damaged in a crash. This caused the team to miss the first race of the season. By the second race, a second car had been prepared and was able to manage a dismal 17th place finish.
At the 24 Hours of LeMans, chassis number 02 and 03 were entered with chassis number 02 earning an 11th place finish. The car was piloted by Roe, Los and Redman.
A fourth car was created and utilized the experience and testing from the prior cars. An additional 60 kg was shed, making the car a bit more competitive. It was entered in the Brands Hatch Race where it was driven by Leslie and Redman to an impressive fourth place finish.
The final car created, chassis number AMR1/05, was ready just in time for the final race of the season, at Mexico. It featured an improved, more powerful engine, yet it was able to do no better than eighth place.
Ford re-focused their endurance racing program efforts with Jaguar, meaning the AMR program was brought to an end at the close of the 1989 season. By 1991, changes to regulations meant the engines became obsolete. By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2007
In August 1987 before the Ford buy-in, Aston Martin announced they were joining forces wîth Ecurie Ecosse to produce a new successor to the Nimrod Aston Martin that could run at Le Mans and in the World Sports-prototype Championship. Draft proposals by FISA for the new Group C regulations to come into effect in 1989 encouraged this decision as stock block engines would be allowed, and while fuel consumption would remain limited it was intended that turbochargers would be phased out. AML directors Victor Gauntlett and Peter Livanos persuaded Richard Williams to give up his own Aston Martin business in South London and join them as a partner in Proteus Technology Ltd set up specifically to design, build, test and (if found competitive) race an all-new Aston Martin to comply wîth the new Group C rules. Design of the chassis known as AMR1 was entrusted to Canadian Max Boxstrom whose contract began on 22nd July 1987 and the first quarter scale model was completed by September for wind tunnel testing. The advanced design comprised a carbon/Kevlar tub of coke-bottle shape behind which the engine and transaxle would be tilted up towards the rear leaving the driveshafts to run at a 3-degree angle.Source - Owner
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