- Written by webmin
Not just anybody can decide one day they’re going to go racing and show up at the 24 Hours of Le Mans ready to go. No, they need to have a number of things taken care of first, including a competition license and some racing experience. Yet in 1949, Brit Bob Lawrie, a complete amateur, entered the famed competition with hardly any of the prerequisites. Still, he had determination, as well as this 1949 Aston Martin DB1, built specifically for him by Aston Martin, and he not only entered the race, but finished just out of the prize money. From the seller’s description:
1949 Aston Martin DB1 Le Mans 24 hour racer, Two Litre Sports/DB1, Chassis number AMC/49/5, Engine number VB6B/50/51, Registration number UMD 123.
Having followed racing at Le Mans in the 1930s, Robert visited the circuit several times after the war and got to know the race organisers well enough to be invited to drive in the first post-war 24 Hour race due to be run in 1949. He then visited the London Motor show and persuaded Aston Martin to build him a car. His next step was to get a competition licence from the RAC, which wasn’t going to be easy as he had never raced a car before (something the Le Mans organisers were not aware of, but more of that later!) He started by showing the RAC his invitation to take part in the event, which didn’t go down well as they were not aware that any race invitations had been issued and felt it was traditionally their role to do so! However, faced with his formal invitation and his sheer determination, they relented and he walked out of the RAC with his licence in his pocket. It was only when he got to Le Mans that the organisers discovered that he had never raced a car before and, not surprisingly, were not too pleased. Anyway, he had their invitation, he had his RAC Competition Licence, he had a car and he was there so they arranged that he would do several officially observed laps of the circuit at racing speed. He apparently drove faultlessly, so they let him take part, with his friend and co-driver Dr. Richard (Dick) Parker.
In Robert Lawrie’s own words, he was not expecting to win, but he definitely wanted to finish. Aston Martin expert Neil Murray told me that his strategy was to conserve the car rather than thrash it which obviously worked well as towards the end of the race they were running in a very creditable 10th place when Dick Parker (apparently known as “Chum”) pulled in to the pits and offered the car back to Lawrie on the basis that he should take the flag. Despite it being a very gentlemanly offer Lawrie was more than a bit annoyed as they lost a place so missed out on some prize money! Still, they finished in 11th place out of the 19 cars which completed the race and the 49 which started which is really quite an achievement and a great credit to them and their car.
It can best be described as maybe not in 100 percent concours show order but as a road going car in really presentable, very smart and sound condition throughout. The high quality paintwork has a glossy finish with no obvious defects apart from the odd small scratch, the brightwork is also very good and the body is sound with no nasty rattles even when driven on uneven roads. The upholstery, interior trim and carpets are smart and the hood is fine though it does have a couple of small tears. The engine compartment and underside of the car are clean and workmanlike though have clearly not been prepared with concours events in mind as the car is in regular use. The engine starts readily, runs smoothly and pulls very well throughout its range without making any unpleasant or expensive sounding noises and it maintains good water temperature and engine oil pressure. The synchromesh gearbox is also really nice and very easy to use. There are no untoward rattles from the suspension or nasty noises from the transmission and back axle. In summary the car is great to look at, really good fun to drive and will definitely reward a press-on approach to motoring!
See more Aston Martins for sale on Hemmings.com.
And, by the way, this is no piece of furniture, as we can see from the following video of the current owner putting the DB1 through its paces: