The Aston Martin Nimrod

Aston Martin had considerable success on the sportscar scene during the 1950s, including victory at Le Mans with the Shelby and the DBRI in 1959. When Victor Gauntlett joined Aston Martin as Chairman in 1981, he was keen to see the company’s name back in racing circles. At the same time, Robin Hamilton, Aston Martin enthusiast and racing driver, was looking for financial support to develop his new sportscar project.

Hamilton had previously developed a heavily modified 1969 DBS (Later named the RHAM/1) for use at Le Mans. Despite some funding from Aston Martin the car struggled to compete at Le Mans.

1979 Would be the last time the RHAM/1 would appear at Le Mans as focus, and funding, shifted to the Nimrod project.

Group C Aston Martin Nimrod
Group C Aston Martin Nimrod – Note the pinched edges of the front grill (designed to be in keeping with the road cars)

With Gauntlett’s backing and sponsorship from Pace Petroleum (one of Gauntlett’s other companies), Nimrod Racing Automobiles was born. Nimrod’s chassis was conceived by Lola’s Eric Broadley, designer of the famous Lola T70 and was powered by a Tickford tuned version of Tadek Marek’s venerable Aston Martin V8.

Group C Aston Martin Nimrod
Group C Aston Martin Nimrod – Showing Driver names

Aston Martin Nimrod at Le Mans

For the 1982 Le Mans race, two Nimrods were entered; one Hamilton’s official works’ car and the other by Le Mans enthusiast and sometime racer Lord Downe’s stable, managed by Richard Williams. One of the Viscount Downe drivers was Ray Mallock, who soon brought his development skills to bear on the project. For the Le Mans 24 hour race, Mallock was joined by Mike Salmon and Simon Phillips, finishing a very creditable 7th overall, sometimes racing as high as third place and harrying the class leading Porsche 956s.

With more good finishes, the Nimrod also took third place in the 1982 World Sports Car Championship. With additional sponsorship from housebuilder Bovis and redesigned bodywork to improve aerodynamics, a single Nimrod was entered for Le Mans in 1983, again by Viscount Downe, as Hamilton had moved his attention and car to the US. Lord Downe returned in 1984 with two cars, the final year of the Nimrod project.

Group C Aston Martin Nimrod
Group C Aston Martin Nimrod – Side profile
Group C Aston Martin Nimrod
Group C Aston Martin Nimrod – Rear

The Nimrod Group C racer was a superb way for Aston Martin to get back into racing. Group C cars might not share that much in common with road cars, but they are always sleek looking in order to reach high speed on the Mulsanne straight. More picture of this stunning car are available here.

The Nimrod is no different with super sleek bodywork. The designers had obviously thought about the car beyond performance however. The Bovis livery follows the sleek lines of the car and looks better than most sponsored cars. The front grille even has the gently tapered corners reminiscent of the Aston Martin road cars – someone with a keen eye designed this stunning racing car.

Unfortunately the Nimrod was up against the Porsche 956 which dominated the sports racing championship of that era. While some modifications to bodywork helped stability of the Nimrod, the more powerful Porsche was too good. The next Porsche, the 962C won in 1986 and 1987, and it took the might of the Jaguar XJR9 to take victory from Porsche in 1988.

Aston Martin Nimrod
Engine:5340cc V8
Top Speed:220mph
Price when new:N/A

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