Aston Martin Engine Development – Book Review

Arthur George Wilson joined Aston Martin in the early part of 1959. In a career spanning over 40 years, he took up the post of AML Head of Engines in 1984 where he stayed until his retirement in 2000. He developed the 580X Vantage Aston Martin engine, the 32 valve engine and designed and developed the twin supercharged 32 valve Vantage engine, and the engine for the normally aspirated V8 Coupe.

Wilson has written Aston Martin Engine Development which will be a must-have for all Aston Martin owners. Reading this book is roughly akin to being told a story by a new friend while poking around in the garage. You know what happens, you are looking at cars and maybe diagnosing a fault as you talk about dogs or the weather or how you came to acquire this car, when all of a sudden the visitor will say, “you know what …”, and launch off into a full discussion on the best way to tune an SU carburetor. Or the exact displacement of the car’s engine and why it isn’t a bit large. Or the accountants were chuffed at the engineers for using 12 bolts on the head instead of just 10.

Aston Martin Engine Development by Arthur WilsonAston Martin Engine Development thoroughly details the design and development of Aston Martin engines including the 580X Vantage, the Virage, and the V8 Coupe. In particular, it focusses on the twin supercharged 32 valve Vantage engine – an engine which set new standards, being the most powerful production car engine in the world at the time of its release in 1992.

More than just a technical treatise, Wilson relates the reasons for important decisions about these machines – both the mechanical and the personal reason. Consider this a shop manual, a history text, and an autobiography combined into one.

Illustrated with photographs from that time and including power and torque curves, this book provides a unique look into a period of Aston’s history, written by one of the key men involved in making it happen. It gives an insight into life at the AM factory at Newport Pagnell; an understanding of the benefits of Supercharging at the time of manufacture; and a historic record of engine design, development, and production that would otherwise have been lost to time.

Aston Martin Engine Development will appeal to primarily to the owners and fans of Aston Martin cars. The diagrams, tricks, and tips will be handy for those who know or wish to know the inner workings of these fine automobiles.  The stories sprinkled throughout, along with the outline of the history of Aston Martin, will be of interest to most all car fans, but the real attraction of this work is in the details.

Aston Martin Engine Development by Arthur Wilson was published in November of 2015 by Old Pond Publishers, and unlike many other books being published these days is a fair bargain at only £24.95. I highly recommend it.


Michael Carnell
Editor at Just British

Michael Carnell is the editor and founder of the Just British Online Motoring Magazine. As a lifelong British car enthusiast, he has owned or driven British cars of all ages from Austins and MGs to Jaguars and Triumphs. He currently owns a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100 and a 1977 MGB. But there is always room for more - no matter what his wife says.