We've been expecting you... Area 10

On Saturday 3 June 2023, Area 10 of the Aston Martin Owners Club (AMOC) visited the Museum and graced the car park with James Bond’s iconic car of choice. Their visit inspired us to look into our links with Aston Martin.

Two images: Left is a row of Aston Martin cars lined up against a wire fence at the back of a car park. Right is a close up of the side of a silver grey car with a building visible in the background.

Cars belonging to Area 10 members, including a DB5. Photo credits: Area 10 (left), Zoe Tolman (right).

A group of people stand posing for a photo outside of a building with large blue sign reading " REME Museum " in white text.

A group photograph taken during the Area 10 visit to the Museum. Photo credit: Area 10.

Some years back, when REME sent its young officers to learn from industry, I managed to wangle three months at the Aston Martin Works at Newport Pagnell. The Aston Martin V8 was hand built there at a rate of 6 cars a week. It was 1980 and, hidden in a backroom, the Bulldog was a development prototype hoped to achieve over 200 mph. Only one car was ever built. This week, 43 years later and after some further development work, it was reported on the news that the car has finally achieved 205 mph on a former NATO airbase in Campbeltown, Scotland!

A boxy shaped, futuristic looking green car with doors opened upwards. Parked in front of a white picket fence with many cars in the background.

Aston Martin Bulldog at Kensington Palace for the Aston Martin centennial celebrations. © Ian Leech, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

A REME officer in uniform sat inside a racing car (side view) looking at the camera, with orange white and blue livery, small doors opened outwards and upwards.

Inside the Lola-Aston Martin B09/60 at a Military Vehicle & Equipment Display, 2009. Photo credit: Steve Colling.

REME and Aston Martin

REME have a few links with Aston Martin. Several REME officers have also worked with the company, though some much earlier in the Second World War. In more recent years, Aston Martin’s production facility has hosted REME units to demonstrate high end performance engineering, including 146 Division Support Company of 102 Battalion REME in 2018. Not to mention the company’s inclusion on the long list of employers of Army service leavers.

Major Sydney Charles Houghton “Sammy” Davis

Having served in the First World War with the armoured car section of the Royal Naval Air Service, at the start of the Second World War “Sammy” Davis joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) and later commissioned into REME, by which time he was in his late 50s. He landed on the beaches of Normandy after D-Day on an American ship, as he recounted in his book A Racing Motorist.

A close up black and white portrait of a young man, smiling.Image: “Sammy” Davis, winner of the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans with Bentley. Photo credit: Le Sport Universel Illustré, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

Earlier on, in 1925, ‘Sammy’ Davis had made his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and went on to take victory in the 1927 Le Mans. Some 40 years later, fellow REME and Normandy veteran, Ken Miles, would make his debut in the same race. Davis’s last start in Le Mans was in 1933, when he finished seventh in a 1.5-litre Aston Martin. In a fitting end, Davis was supposedly the first British Officer to enter Le Mans after its liberation during the war, and a street there was named after him. 

His interest in racing remained strong and he became the first Vice-President of AMOC in 1935.

Having written for the REME Magazine, we have in our collection some of his sketches and photographs presented by relatives.

Aston Powered?

During my time with Aston Martin I was told that there was talk of putting an Aston engine in the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked (CVRT) but I’m yet to find any supporting evidence.  Eventually, the 4.32 litre Jaguar XK engine was chosen.

Does anyone have any further information on this? If you can help, please contact us!

Steve Colling, Corps Historian