If competing at one iconic venue earns a racecar substantial pedigree, racing competitively at four gives it legendary status.
Such legendary accolades surround this rare British auto, a 1935 Aston Martin racecar, which competed at that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, RAC Tourist Trophy, as well as the 1936 Mille Miglia and French Grand Prix. Known as the Ulster LM19, it crossed the Bonhams auction block at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, selling for an eye-watering $4,581,921.
Though its story and performance are remarkable, its racing results unfortunately fell short.
Built as one of four ultimate specification Aston Martin racecars to challenge the 1935 Le Mans event, the LM19 Ulster made its debut at Circuit de la Sartre and ran competitively until a rainy accident sidelined the Aston. It was rebuilt with a new chassis and front axle and made its racing return to the RAC Tourist Trophy, only to endure oil pipe issues and limp its way home well behind the winning car.
LM19 returned for Italy’s Mille Miglia in 1936 and ran strong in the hands of privateer racers but engine trouble kept the Ulster back once again. Perhaps the Aston Martin’s most impressive show of force came later that year at the French Grand Prix. Talented Dick Seaman drove the car so hard around the Montlhery road course in the running for the class lead that the brakes cooked and the car became uncontrollable.
The Aston Martin was then retired from racing and remained in the ownership of one private collector until 1969, living a life of mild use followed by a long period of unmolested storage. It sold that year for a scarcely believable £1,575 (about $3,000) and would remain with that family for 45 years.
During that tenure it was repaired and given a specially built exhaust, period correct cylinder block, and 18-inch wheels, as well as given a repaint from green to the jet black shade evocative of Dick Seaman’s impressive run in France. The 1.5-liter Aston Martin draws 85 horsepower through dual SU carburetors. When fully unleashed it produces top speeds of 110 mph… quite considerable for a sportscar from 1935.
Aston Martin priced the four Ulsters at £750 brand new, ready to race. Today, LM19 stands tall at a whopping $4.5 million.
Photo Credit: Bonhams
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