Aston Martin RHAM/1
|Category||Le Mans Racer, Sports car racing|
|Constructor||Robin Hamilton, Aston Martin Lagonda LTD|
|Chassis||Highly modified Aston Martin DBS V8 (DBSV8/10038/RC) Fibre glass panels, lowered roof and front bonnet line|
|Suspension (front)||Unequal wishbones, front anti-roll bar|
|Suspension (rear)||Reduced width De Dion tube, radius arms, trailing links, Koni dampers, custom coil springs, nylon mountings|
|Length||15 ft 4.5 in (4,580 mm)|
|Width||6 ft 4 in (1,930 mm)|
|Height||4 ft 0.25 in (1,230 mm)|
|Wheelbase||8 ft 06 in (2,610 mm)|
|Engine||RH developed Aston Martin 5,340 cc Alloy V8, Twin-OHC per bank, Twin Garrett AiResearch turbos, Bosch fuel injection (1979) FR Layout 1977: 188 mph (303 km/h), 492 bhp (367 kW) @ 6,500 rpm (Max 510 bhp @7000 rpm) 1979: 190 mph (310 km/h), 600 bhp @ 6,000 rpm (Max 800 bhp @ 7,000 rpm)|
|Transmission||Custom built ZF 5-speed Manual Close ratio 5th gear AP 3 plate clutch (77), 4 plate (79) Modified LSD|
|Weight||1977: 1516 kg (54%-46%, F-R) 1979: 1,486 kg|
|Tyres||Custom made Dunlop|
The Aston Martin RHAM/1 was a highly modified Aston Martin DBS V8 racing car, developed by Robin Hamilton, built with the intention of racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After development by Hamilton, RHAM/1 competed in the 1977 and 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing 17th overall and 3rd in the GTP class in the 1977 race. The car has also held the World Land Speed Record, for towing a caravan, at the speed of 124.91 mph.
After completing his apprenticeship with Rolls Royce in Derby, Robin Hamilton set up Robin Hamilton Motors in Tutbry with David Jack. At Robin Hamilton Motors they specialised solely in Aston Martins. Hamilton gained large experience with Aston Martin DBS V8's and AM V8's while at the specialist. Hamilton's DBS V8 (DBSV8/10038/RC) was only the second ever production Aston Martin V8 to take to the track. Competing on 6 April 1974, with the first raced V8 being a DBS V8 in 1970 at the AMOC Curborough Sprint.
With Hamilton's experience DBSV8/10038/RC was developed and developed and after large modifications to the car over the three years of 1974 to 1977, the car became unrecognisable and the original chassis number of DBSV8/10038/RC, was changed to RHAM/1 (Robin Hamilton Aston Martin #1). Which was the car that would finally fulfil Hamilton's intentions of racing at Le Mans.
Whilst this is not a works car, support was provided by the Aston Martin factory, and indeed lessons learned from the MIRA wind tunnel test sessions were applied to the V8 Vantage in the form of front air dam and rear spoiler.
In 1974, Staffordshire based Aston Martin specialist, Robin Hamilton began competing a lightly modified 1969 DBS V8 (DBS/10038/RC) in Aston Martin Owners Club events. The first major alterations that were made to 10038/RC were made to make the car conform to Group 4 regulations and bring the car into line with the then current production AM V8 by fitting the latter's single headlight AM V8 front end.
To make the Le Mans dreams possible the Aston Martin V8 was homologated for racing, which involved registering the car with both the RAC MSA (now MSA) and the FIA.
Due to the large modifications to the aerodynamics of the car, DBSV8/10038/RC was not usable on the roads. At this stage the car was far quicker than any standard DBS V8, however only shared similar power outputs to the production V8 Vantage.
With Le Mans the eventual target, the car was further developed to incorporate modified cylinder heads, revised camshafts, side-draft Weber carburettors and a race exhaust system, while the suspension and brakes were also upgraded, with stiffer and shorter springs, larger brakes, wider wheels and racing slick tyres. In this form DBSV8/10038/RC raced in AMOC events throughout 1975, competing up until September 1975. The car showed promise, proving to be a match for former Le Mans cars at the AMOC Silverstone meeting in July by finishing 3rd. Later that year, the car gained a quartet of dragster-style downdraft Weber carburettors, which were the height of half the windscreen for the 1976 season.
The DBS V8 appeared at the Jaguar Drivers Club meeting in April 1976 as after it had undergone wind tunnel testing at MIRA (through backing from Aston Martin). The car's power output had not tested on a dynamometer, nor a rolling road, with the only testing being held on straight stretch of 3 miles (4.8 km) of local public road.
The car only completed half of the events in 1976 due to the preparation for the scheduled Le Mans appearance. Robin Hamilton hoped to race at the 1976 Le Mans race, even preparing a sponsorship brochure, seeking financial support. With the brochure saying: "The Aston Martin will run in Group 4, and although it is unlikely to finish 1st overall, stands an excellent chance of winning this Group, which would carry almost as much prestige as winning the race overall." In the personnel list, famous Aston Martin team manager John Wyer was listed as project consultant and Willie Green as second driver, with the third driver to be announced.
1977 Le Mans 24 Hour
Robin Hamilton again released a sponsorship brochure for 1977, but again failed to get any large sponsorship backing. But Hamilton did gain a small sponsorship deal from SAS in London, a company who specialised in riot and security equipment. Hamilton received £25,000, which covered most of his costs for Le Mans.
The V8 engine of the car, had now been fitted with Nimonic steel valves, special forged Cosworth pistons and a redesigned sump. The engine would now produce 520 bhp (390 kW) at 6,750 rpm and 381 bhp at the wheels. Plus over 400 ft·lbf of torque at 5,250 rpm with Weber 50 IDA downdraught carburettors. The car by this stage was now a Group 5 car rather than a Group 4, which would mean it would have to race against the turbocharged Porsches. Another wind tunnel test showed that the car would have dangerous amounts of lift on the Mulsanne straight, so another change had to be made, and a rear tail spoiler needed to be fitted. The wind tunnel test also showed that the radiator, (now moved to the back to change the weight bias), would gain then 10 mph more in top speed, but it would cause the engine to run too hot, so it had to be moved back to its original location. Four oil coolers also ensured that the engine temperature never exceeded 110°C.
For 1978, RHAM/1 was modified even more, now with and output of 800 bhp (600 kW) assisted by twin Garrett AiResearch turbos. But, fuel consumption dropped to 2.5 mpg (for the 1977 race, the average was 5.75 mpg) so the entry to Le Mans was withdrawn two weeks prior the race.
1979 Le Mans 24 Hour
RHAM/1 next appeared at the Silverstone Six Hours in May 1979, considerably lightened and re-modeled with a lower roof line, steeply raked windscreen, huge front air dam and dropped bonnet line. While beneath the bonnet was a twin-turbocharged version of the Aston V8 engine with fuel injection in place of the Weber carburettors, reducing boost pressure to give maximum power output of 650 bhp (480 kW) in race specification. But this reduced fuel consumption to around 4 mpg. The brakes were enlarged again, to 13" all round and water cooling was developed to help cool them (to be used at Le Mans). 350 lb in weight was also removed, in non Le Mans trim (no extra lights or equipment).
The car's next race, was at Silverstone Six Hours in 1980, where RHAM/1 now had a huge rear wing to counterbalance the downforce at the front of the car. Driven by Hamilton and Bell, the car retired early, as after just 61.5 miles (99.0 km), when the rear hub failed.
On 14 October 1980 RHAM/1 set a new World Land Speed Record for towing a caravan on the runway at Elvington Airfield, Yorkshire. Robin Hamilton towed an Alpha 14 caravan in the wet to an average speed of 124.91 mph, having seen 152 mph on the speedometer exiting the timed quarter mile. The speed beat the previous record of 108 mph.
With his first hand experience at Le Mans, Robin Hamilton went on to develop the Aston Martin Nimrod Group C racing car in the early 1980s.
RHAM/1 was put up for sale by Robin Hamilton in 1984 when he closed his business and was bought by Chris Crawford.
In 2005 RHAM/1 was for sale with Nicholas Mee's Aston Martin Car Company.
RHAM/1 was on sale at Bonhams' Aston Martin auction held on 13 May 2006 at Works Service, Newport Pagnell