Aston Martin's oldest car prepares for its 100th birthday bash

Ronan Glon
·3-min read



Aston Martin will celebrate in style the 100th birthday of its oldest-known remaining car. It will send the 1921 A3 to the annual Concours of Elegance taking place in September 2021 on the near outskirts of London.

Fittingly, the Concours of Elegance is one of the most prestigious car shows in the world. It was first held in 2012 to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's reign over the United Kingdom. It retains royal ties, so showing to the event in a bondo-colored Renault 18 is completely out of the question. Aston Martin's A3 will fit right in, however.

Its name signals that it's the third car built by Aston Martin, and that it's powered by a Type A engine, which denotes a side-valve four-cylinder tuned to develop about 11 horsepower. That's a rounding error in 2021, but it was impressive in the early 1920s, and it allowed the A3 to set several speed records. It notably averaged over 86 mph during a 100-mile event held at the Brooklands track, which 100 years later is commonly associated with Bentley.

After extensive testing, Aston Martin sold the A3 in 1923. It was sold and bought several times until it ended up in the hands of a man named R.W. Mallabar. He shipped it back to Aston Martin's headquarters when a connecting rod failed, and he asked the company to refinish it in gray with red wheels while it was tearing apart the engine. The A3 then disappeared until 2002, when it appeared at an auction and its historical significance was uncovered.

Aston Martin received the A3 as a generous donation in 2003, and it commissioned Ecurie Bertelli to give it a full — and painstakingly long — restoration. Its frame was rebuilt from scratch with ash wood, and it received a reproduction body made with hand-beaten panels. It's now black with black wheels, which is the livery it wore until Mallabar commissioned a respray. Its engine was rebuilt during the refurbishment, so it moves under its own power.

Whether that means the A3 will drive to the event under its own power hasn't been revealed. Regardless, when it gets there, it will bask in the sun (or get drenched by a late-summer storm) next to a star-studded lineup of Gulf- and Martini-liveried race cars and other historically significant machines. It's a little too old to participate in the display put together to celebrate the Queen of England's 95th birthday; there will be one car for each year that she's been alive. All told, over 1,000 vintage vehicles (and at least a many liters of champagne) are expected.

Enthusiasts who want to check out the Aston Martin A3 in person will need to travel to the Hampton Court Palace between September 3 and 5, 2021. Tickets are on sale now on the Concours of Elegance's official website.

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