Aston Martin Nimrod, Group C Endurance racing car

In 1981, Robin Hamilton approached Victor Gauntlett, CEO of AML, with a project to develop a Group C competition car, powered by the Aston Martin V8 engine.

The Nimrod racing car was built by Nimrod Racing Automobiles Ltd., at Fauld near Burton-on-Trent, with a chassis designed by Eric Broadley of Lola, and Aston Martin V8 engines prepared by Aston Martin Tickford Ltd.

A customer car was built for Viscount Downe (the then AMOC President) and managed by Richard Williams and finished to FISA Group C specifications. The cars first competitive outing was at the 1000 km race at Silverstone in May 1982. Driven predominantly by Ray Mallock and Mike Salmon and whilst carrying Pace Petroleum sponsorship, the Nimrod finished 6th overall and 4th in class C.

Before Le Mans in June 1982, Mallock introduced revised suspension to the car, but the overall height was too low to pass scrutineering. So an extension was hastily added above the windscreen, which resembled a ‘TAXI’ sign and the car was cleared to race. Simon Phillips was added to the driving roster alongside Salmon and Mallock. The car performed well for most of the race until it started to lose power at 10.30am on the second day, stopped briefly out on the track and limped home with a 7-minute final lap to finish 7th. At the Spa 1000 km race, the car finished 11th overall and 7th in group C, securing 3rd place in the 1982 World Endurance Championship. Following a change of sponsorship to the construction firm, Bovis, the car ran in the 1982 1000 km race at Brands Hatch, finishing 9th in heavy rain.

Following a weight loss programme and the fitting of a new more aerodynamic body with greater downforce over winter 1982/83 the car achieved a 7th place in the Silverstone 1000km race the following May. Shortly afterwards at Le Mans, during qualifying, the car reached 213mph along the Mulsanne straight. However, on the Sunday morning of the actual race, a conrod broke and the car retired. The car also retired from both the 1000kms races at Spa and Brands Hatch. Yet the team still came 3rd in the World Endurance Championship that year.

During the 1984 Le Mans race, the car suffered a tyre blow out on the Mulsanne straight, bursting into flames. The driver John Sheldon was badly burned and a track marshal was sadly killed. The sister Downe car hit some of the wreckage and also spun, ending Downe’s racing team.

The car was rebuilt from spares and a new tub in 1988 by Viscount Downe.

Chassis No: NRAC2 004

Kindly on loan from Vicountess Downe

Race history

1982 B.R.D.C. Silverstone (Mallock/Salmon), 6th overall, 4th in class. Le Mans (Mallock/Salmon/Phillips), 7th overall, 4th in class. B.R.S.C. Brands Hatch (Mallock/Salmon), 9th overall, 8th in class.
1983 B.R.D.C. Silverstone (Mallock/Salmon), 7th overall. Le Mans (Mallock/Salmon/Earle), retired after 17 hours, engine following alternator failure. Spa 1000 Kms (Mallock/Salmon), retired, 109 laps. Brands Hatch 1000 Kms (Mallock/Salmon), retired, 102 laps. R.A.C. Brands Hatch (Mallock/Salmon), 3rd.
1984 Daytona 24 Hours (Mallock/Olsen/Sheldon), 16th overall. 1000 Kms Silverstone (Salmon/Sheldon/Attwood), retired, 103 laps. Le Mans (Salmon/Sheldon/Attwood), crashed, 93rd lap, when 13th.