Rumbling Group C Aston AMR1 could be yours for £500,000

04th January 2017
Bob Murray

For a rare chance to own a significant slice of V8-powered Aston Martin motor racing history, make a date in the diary for Friday February 24th. That’s when one of the AMR1 racers of 1989 is being auctioned – with a guide price of £500,000.

Remember Aston Martin’s short-lived but much-anticipated Group C comeback of the late 1980s – the firm’s first factory race car of the modern era? The car was never a winner in period – it came home 11th overall at Le Mans in ’89 – but has lately been making an impact in historic endurance racing.  

The car for sale, AMR1/05 – the lightest of all the AMR1s – most recently won at Paul Ricard with our own favourite Frenchman behind the wheel, Nic Minassian. It’s worth it if only for the noise: a thundering roar from the Tadek Marek-designed normally-aspirated V8 which in 6.3-litre race form at the time put out about 740bhp. 

AMR1 was born out of the early ‘80s Nimrod race team, a stillborn effort that nevertheless showed the potential of Aston Martin in endurance racing, using the firm’s mighty V8 engine which by 1989 came in new four-valve head form. Once again then-Aston chairman Victor Gauntlett was the front man for Aston’s racing comeback, with Le Mans the goal.


A handsome and uniquely British racer, AMR1 was designed by Canadian Max Boxstrom. Among its claims to fame were a wide ground-effect front aerofoil and very wide underbody venturi with truncated rear end that necessitated the engine and transaxle being canted over at a notably inclined angle. 

It was all quite radical for the time but ultimately AMR1 was up against turbocharged racers – many of which could outpace it on the faster circuits like Le Mans. One of the Aston’s problems was its immense downforce which was said to hold top speed back on the straights by as much as 20mph. 



Only a limited amount of testing was possible in ’89 before two AMR1s headed to La Sarthe; the Mallock/Leslie/Sears car retired with engine failure after 11 hours, the second car of Redman/Roe/Los finished 11th. But then it was only the AMR1’s second-ever race. An improved car for Redman and Leslie came home fourth at Brands Hatch that year, in what was the first race appearance in Britain for a works Aston racer for 25 years. 

AMR1/05, the car in the sale, featured further improvements and a reduction in weight. Appearing in time for Redman and Sears to drive at Donington Park, it finished seventh, a position it replicated at Spa later in ’89, helping the team come sixth in that year’s championship. There was meant to be an AMR2 with improved aero but a by-now Ford-owned Aston Martin wasn’t able to take the car further than early testing.


The car’s latterday successes in historic endurance racing were set up at Monza in 2003, when regular driver David Leslie took the chequered flag – AMR1/05’s first-ever international victory. Since then the car, now running a 6.0-litre version of the V8, has been a regular front-runner in historic Group C events in Europe – including Nic Minassian’s win in October 2016 at Paul Ricard – and in IMSA racing in the US.

The car is being by sold in Silverstone Auctions’ Race Retro International Sale at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, on Friday February 24th at 15.00hrs. Pre-sale estimate for the Aston is £500-550,000. 

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