Classifieds Hero: 1930 Aston Martin International

If you seek a sportscar that showcases how pre-war motorsport has developed a renowned marque, you’d be wise to consider this Aston Martin International from 1930 …

Like many other pre-war Aston Martins, including the T-type, the Le Mans and the Speed Model, the International is an example of what has collectively become recognised as the ‘Bertelli cars’.

Manufactured in 1930, this light-blue International was sold during a time where Anglo-Italian Augustus Cesare Bertelli, known more commonly in the motoring industry simply as ‘Bert’, acted as both technical director and designer for Aston Martin.

Bertelli was a skilful driver, his interest in motor engineering having been greatly intensified by his experience as riding mechanic for Felice Nazzaro in the 1908 Targa Bologna, where the pair were to win the race in a Fiat that averaged 120km/h around the challenging course. Amongst the spectators was an entranced 10-year old Enzo Ferrari, and rumour has it that this very event led to Ferrari’s own pursuits within motorsport.

Many years later, the knowledge that Bertelli was gleaning from behind the wheel in motor races was directly contributing to the evolution of Aston Martins - including such spectacular vehicles as the International.

The car was named as such to take advantage of the works’ team racing efforts as appearances at various rallies, sprints, hill-climbs and the illustrious Brooklands circuit successfully glamourised the spirited International. With the help of Pat Driscoll, Bertelli enjoyed no end of success with the model, winning the 1932 Biennial Cup at Le Mans to name only one victory.

Automotive journalists of the era were particularly smitten with the International too, numerous positive reviews being printed in the motoring press to garnish an already sterling reputation.

From the classifieds

This particular International is powered by a 1,495 cc Renwick & Bertelli 4-cylinder engine that is capable of delivering 60 bhp and 55 lb-ft of torque via a 4-speed crash gearbox.

The engine utilises dry sump lubrication whereby tank oil is constantly pumped through the engine and returned for cooling at a rate of 2 gallons per minute. This is an effective system that keeps the engine’s running temperature at under 75 degrees, even during racing conditions.

Impressive 14” brakes, operated by Perrot shafts at the front, bring the International to a clean halt while the semi-elliptic leaf springs on the front and rear, combined with Hartford friction dampers, provide a particularly comfortable ride.

In the August 1932 edition of Motorsport magazine, a review of the International model stated: 'Even when the shock absorbers were tightened up to their full extent, the car was not unduly bumpy at low speeds, and the suspension is altogether one of the best we have come across on a sports car.'

Build quality on the International is renowned thanks to thorough testing within the Aston Martin workshops. At the time the compromise was a somewhat expensive purchase price, but the International was an efficient sports car that possessed remarkable stamina and offered superb handling.

This particular International was delivered to its first owner based in London in July 1930, where in its first year alone it drove some 18,000 miles before being treated to an engine rebuild. The Aston then passed through various hands before it arrived in Bromley during 1952, where it was to remain with the same owner for the next four decades.

For much of this time, the International was laid up within a garage interspersed with a brief appearance in the February 1992 edition of The Automobile magazine. The subsequent owner then carried out comprehensive work that totalled to some £60,000 - including full bodywork restoration, an engine and gearbox rebuild as well as overhauling the rear axle.

Briefly owned next by motoring historian David Venables, this International became a class winner at the Brighton & Hove Motor Club Concours.

In 2007, this International competed in the 2007 Brighton Speed Trials where it recorded the same time over the standing-start quarter mile as achieved by The Autocar when road testing an identical vehicle in 1930. This was followed by a win of the Doris Smith Trophy at the 2009 B&HMC Concours and further coverage in the February 2011 edition of The Automobile.

This splendid Aston Martin with a smart dark blue hide interior, has just recently benefitted from re-commissioning courtesy of Ecurie Bertelli, world specialists for pre-war Aston Martins, and now awaits its next motoring challenge.

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