Dave Ellis first ventured into the racing world in 1977. Though at this early stage his car was not heavily modified, the rest of the field were left behind as he powered his Aston Martin V8 up Wiscombe Park hill..
It was a meeting with fellow AMOC and former racer Bill Burton that led Dave into trying his luck in competition.
" I used to take the children to school in an Aston Martin V8 and Bill used to take his grand children", explains Dave. " He persuaded me to have a bit of a go.I took out the spare wheel and tool kit, and come back with five trophies!"
Dave then decided he wanted a current shape, manual V8
He then went out and bought V8/10610/RCA with just one week spare to prepare the car for the AMOC's 1977 St John Horsefall meeting at Silverstone, modifications being limited to Vantage shock absorbers, cleaned and polished inlet manifolds, and a good service.It finished a third of the way down the field, minus 3rd gear and fading brakes.
" What I could nt believe was Gordon Proctor in an early Vantage", says Ellis. " I was absolutely killing my car and he went past like I was standing still! "
Well and truly bitten by the racing bug, Dave began a gradual process of modification, to create an Aston racer to beat Porsches, Jaguars and Ferraris.
I was always interested as a child in Aston Martin and Stirling Moss", says Dave, whose first Aston was a DB5 in 1971. It is to his credit that all the work on his V8 racer had been carried out in-house at Wigan based David Ellis Plant & Equipment, bar any neccessary machine work which was handled by a specialist who worked for Zakspeed, March and Arrows.
For the 1978 season, modifications were obviously going in the right direction, tha Aston lapping Silverstone in 1 minute 7.6 seconds compared to Proctor's Vantage time of 1 minute 10.8 seconds - 3 seconds faster first time out.
" We'd stiffened the suspension, modified the engine only slightly, and concentrated on the brakes", remebers Dave.
"On the engine, we concentrated on gas-flowing, and I had some camshafts worked by Piper.It was probably producing about 400-420 bhp. I then started winning races, not after learning to drive, but learning how to race."
The V8 stayed in this basic specificatin until 1982, by which time Dave had won most of the races entered in the Aston. Nonetheless, the decision was taken to completely modify the car starting with a comprehensive exercise to lose weight."There was a bit of a needle match between the Hyde Vale car and mine," remembers Dave, " They sent theirs to the factory to be lightened, whilst I did mine myself.Mine was a little lower, with less frontal area, but still nine times out of ten I beat Ray Taft in the Silver Hyde Vale Aston. "
Lightening the Aston began with totally stripping the car, and removing the body shell from the chassis." It took a hell of a lot of thought, and we tried to remove weight wherever possible," says Dave, " We built it to the fully modified specification of the AMOC regs which said the chassis could be lightened. Using steel box sections we removed about 50% of the chassis, the main centre piece, the ladder part and then lowered the chassis about 4 inches. We then lowered the car about 4 inches, making it roughly 8 inches lower than standard. "Wr re-panel beat the body panels for the flared arches, and kept them in aluminium, and fitted a different aluminium bonnet, with slight re-styling of the nose. We also fitted perspex windows." says Dave.
The V8 itself, which retained its 5.3 litre capacity as it always had done, received different Cosworth pistons, camshaft further modified by Piper, and a dry sump system.
The standard Bosch fuel injection remained, and was complimented by a home made competition exhaust exiting under the car.
"I reckon in 1982 the car was up to about 500 BHP," says Dave, " but a lot of people told me they thought it was more."
The standard 5 speed box was retained, with standard ratios, though the axle ratio was lowered, and a cooler fitted to counteract the heat generated by the in board rear disc brakes.
All the suspension pick up points were moved to fit in the wider wheels, but the suspension was still the basic set up, with competition shock absorbers and shortened coil springs. With this more modified V8, Dave went on to win most of the races entered in the 1982 season.
"Porsche had it all their own way," explains Dave, " and I wanted to build a car that could beat them - they used to fit Le Mans parts to the car and I wanted to beat Porsche for the benefit of Aston Martin and the club. Everything I did was because Aston Martin is British and the best of. "
With each season, Dave managed to lighten the car from its 1982 weight of 22cwt, a further 60lb, the Aston becoming faster still, and in 1984 he took the ASCAR Championship, and numerous other race titles.
By the end of the 1985 season however, other competitors had taken umbridge at being constantly trounced by the low, wide yellow Aston, and Dave was suddenly informed that he could no longer race in Intermarque events. Disappointed but undeterred, Dave decided to further modify his Aston, including its frontal appearance, and contest in whatever events he could. The 1986 season saw Daves Aston weighing in at a little under a ton, producing over 600 BHP, with modified brakes, discs and cooling system, and retained this specification until 1989.
The Aston Martin engine that was in the car from '82 - '86 won 67 races. Since Dave and the Aston started racing, the pair making a joint debut on the track, the story was one of success, including such records as winning outright 30 races of the 35 entered in 1986, more than any other race car in Britain. In both '88 and '89 the car took eight wins out of ten races, indeed the trophy tally is over 200, including wins of the AMOC s Peter Bell trophy, for the best all round racing record with an Aston Martin, running to almost double figures.
Race and Road car project