1934 Aston Martin 1.5 Litre Mark II Sports Saloon

1934 Aston Martin 1.5 Litre Mark II Sports Saloon

Only a few years after it was established, Aston Martin entered receivership. The fledgling company was eventually saved from bankruptcy by A.C. Bertelli in 1926. At the time Bertelli was also working on a car of their own design and more importantly also established a coach-building shop next door to the Aston Martin factory. At the Olympia Motor Show a year later, Aston Martin launched the S-Type. Powered by a 1.5 litre, four cylinder engine it was available with a choice of Bertelli bodies.

Initial sales were slow but Aston Martin's fortunes finally turned around in 1929 with the addition of the 'International' model to the line-up. It used the same 1.5 litre engine but mounted in a much lower chassis. This was based on the 'Team Cars' that had competed at Le Mans a year earlier. During the following years the cars were continuously developed and also raced with considerable success. The 1.5 litre 'four' was in service until 1937 when it was finally replaced by the 2 litre model. One of the final models to feature the 1.5 litre engine was the Mark II introduced in 1934.

The sophisticated single overhead camshaft engine originally produced a very reasonable 56 bhp. This steadily grew to 73 bhp over the years. It was also smoother and quieter thanks to a counter-balanced crank and wider timing gears. The ladder frame chassis was also a development of the original S-Type design. Compared to the previous models, the Mark II was considerably stiffer due to deeper chassis rails. To cut production costs, Aston Martin relied on third-party suppliers for various parts. The gearbox, for example, was sourced at Laycock and the rear axle was provided by ENV.

Almost all Mark II chassis were clothed at the neighbouring E. Bertelli coach-building facility. Three standard bodies were available; an open 2/4 seater, a full four seater and a fixed-head 'Sports Saloon'. Several examples of an even more luxurious drophead coupe were also built to special order. Priced at a hefty 700 Pounds, the beautiful Sports Saloon was the most expensive version and as a result only two dozen were built. The Mark II could be easily distinguished from its predecessor due to the use of vertical thermostatically controlled radiator shutters.

Between 1934 and 1936 just 166 examples of the Mark II were produced. Soon after the 2-litre model was introduced and not much later A.C. Bertelli left the company. Today these early Aston Martins are not nearly as coveted as the models built in the David Brown era. In period, however, they were very highly regarded both as road and racing cars.

Only 24 examples of the Sports Saloon clothed Mark II were built and sadly quite a few were converted to the more desirable 'Ulster' specification. Chassis K4/513/L is a rare exception and one of just a handful of Sports Saloons to have survived with the original coach-work. It was owned for a long time by British Aston Martin enthusiast Donald Proffitt. He successfully entered the car in various concours d'elegance throughout the early 1980s.

Descriptions & pictures by ultimatecarpage & bonhams

Production Start 1934
Country of origin Great Britain