It was the late Mortimer Morris-Goodall, ‘Mort’ to many friends, who started it all. Having been fired with enthusiasm by an International bought when ‘a brash lad of some 20 summers’ and by his first meeting with ‘Bert’ Bertelli shortly after, his success led to the purchase of the team car LM7 and an invitation to drive “under works control’’ at Le Mans in 1933. His reverence for “Bert and his Astons” prompted the thought that almost everyone else who had the good fortune or sense to own an Aston felt the same and “how nice it would be to meet some of these people.
S.C.H. (‘Sammy’) Davis agreed that an Aston Martin Owners Club would be a good idea and inserted a note in The Autocar (of which he was Sports Editor) of 3rd and 17th May, 1935, calling a meeting. The 20 or 30 people who turned up on 25th May also agreed and elected a committee which included Lance Prideaux-Brune, Dick Anthony, Maurice Falkner, Harold Bevan, Miss Dorothy Bean and Peter Cadbury.
Charles Jarrott was persuaded to become the President and Sammy Davis the Vice-President, with Leslie Keevil as Honorary Treasurer and Mort Goodall as Honorary Secretary. The Club’s activities, mostly social, including an annual dinner-dance at the Park Lane Hotel, were brought to a close by the Second World War
The process started again at a meeting led by Dick Stallebrass at the R.A.C. on 5th March, 1948. However, following his tragic death at Spa only four months later, Dudley Coram started to play a leading role in the re-formed Club, with Eric Cutler as Chairman. At one time or another, Coram served in every capacity in the Club before he died in 1976.
Although the pre-war archives have been lost, the present rules are believed to enshrine the same principles as those drafted in 1935. Our Memorandum of Association provides, inter alia, that the Club is established to “promote the sport and pastime of motoring’’, “develop interest in the ASTON MARTIN CAR’’ and “encourage social intercourse between Members’’. The Club, in the UK, puts on some five race meetings a year, at least one hillclimb and three sprints. Worldwide, the Club is represented on most continents, with thriving sections in Germany, Holland, Switzerland and the USA. Other countries have a smaller representation which are no less enthusiastic. These groups also entertain their fellow Members with various events.
1995 saw the Club celebrate its Diamond Jubilee. The traditional annual events all took on a Jubilee focus and were supplemented by other special attractions, both local and national as well as international, some 30 in all. The year kicked off with the Grand Jubilee Ball at the Dorchester Hotel, London, The party-goers enjoyed the spectacle of a grand display of Aston Martin cars. They were welcomed by a DB7 exhibited outside the Ballroom. Inside, cars with chassis numbers 1914; 1925; D5/569/S; C7/719/U; LML/50/396 and DB5/2261/R were all arranged on specially constructed stands.
A silver Diamond Jubilee Virage Volante made a fitting ‘display case’ for a million dollars worth of Cartier jewellery! The AGM saw our President, Lord Downe, receive the Club’s premier award, the Bertelli Trophy. Another highlight, was the Founders Day Dinner at the Grafton Hotel where, on the 25th May 1935, the Club was formed. With a limitation on space, it is not possible to detail all the other events however, the special displays at the St John Horsfall and the Historic Weekend at Silverstone were remarkable.
‘The Family’ as the late Viscount Downe worded his toast to the Club’s sixtieth year, has continued to meet at the Club’s social and competitive events and stay in touch through its publications, AM Quarterly and the News Sheet which have carried reports of the many Club events around the world as have the publications that originate in other parts of the world.
Every four years, a Register of Members’ Cars is published and has become the ‘standard work’ on the Marque. The Aston Martin Heritage Trust, now has the responsibility for publishing this work.
Enthusiasm coupled with the right people continues to ensure that the Club thrives, just as the same combination has enabled our marque to survive from the early days of the motor car. The fingers of only one hand are enough on which to count Aston Martin’s Brooklands contemporaries in the 1920s that remain in production!
May 23rd 1997, was a ‘red letter’ day for the Club with the unveiling by Lady Paula Brown and John Martin of the Cairn, erected in memory of Lionel Martin, at the top of Aston Hill in Buckinghamshire. The inspiration of the Club’s Chairman, Ian MacGregor, this memorial was designed by Member John Evans and constructed on Forestry Commission land with support from the Club and AML Ltd.
The Club found that it was outgrowing its headquarters at Sutton so a search was set in motion during 1997 to look for new premises. After a number of false starts, a magnificent 600 year old grange barn near Oxford was discovered and purchased in January 1998. The first stage of the work to refurbish the barn started in earnest during 1999 and was completed in 2001 with the Club moving in the same year.
The year 2000 saw the Club put on every sort of entertainment for its members including the postponed 1999 50th St John Horsfall race meeting at Silverstone.
In March 2002, the Club received the sad news that, Viscount Downe, President since 1980, had died, but our spirits were restored in some small degree when Diana, the Viscountess Downe, agreed to be our new President.
April 2002 saw the ‘official opening’ of the new headquarters at Drayton St. Leonard in Oxfordshire. Prince Michael of Kent had graciously agreed to perform the opening but, sadly, the death of the Queen Mother intervened, preventing His Royal Highness from attending. However, our new President, Diana, the Viscountess Downe, performed the opening ceremony on behalf of His Royal Highness.
The Club maintains strong links to Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., each supporting the other in various enterprises.