1952 Aston Martin DB3

After a long developmental period, Aston Martin replaced the DB2 with the smaller, more experimental DB3. The program consisted of 10 cars that raced for two years.

DB3s were seldom alike. During the first year of racing many different bodies were affixed to the chassis. Some cars had coupe bodywork which proved unstable at high speeds.

The engine in the DB3 was an evolved version of W.O. Bentley’s postwar Lagonda engine. Over the years, David Brown developed the engine, introducing many significant changes.

Unfortunately, the DB3 never achieved any major success. Most of the races ended up with DB3s retiring with a variety of problems. The Hypoid rear differential was very problematic. Furthermore, even if the cars had proved reliable, they were still trying to keep pace with the Jaguars and Ferraris. The only notable victory achieved was the 1952 Goodwood nine hours driven by Collins and Griffith.

Despite the limited success, the DB3 paved the way for future Aston Martin purpose built race cars. It shortly replaced by the DB3S in 1953. This move kept Aston Martin competitive with cars such as the Jaguar C and D-Type. The DB3S itself transformed into the DBR1 in 1959. Although distant, the DB3 started a program which would eventually end up with an outright victory at LeMans in 1959.

Story by Richard Owen

In Detail

submitted by Richard Owen
type Racing Car
built at Feltham, England
engine Inline-6
position Front Longitudinal
aspiration Natural
valvetrain DOHC
displacement 2580 cc / 157.4 in³
bore 78 mm / 3.07 in
stroke 90 mm / 3.54 in
compression 8.16:1
power 104.4 kw / 140 bhp @ 5200 rpm
specific output 54.26 bhp per litre
body / frame Aluminum over Tubular Frame
driven wheels RWD
front tires 6.00×16
rear tires 6.00×16
front brakes Al-Fin Drums
rear brakes Al-Fin Drums
steering Rack & Pinion
f suspension Trailing Arms w/Transverse Torsion Arms
r suspension De Dion Axle w/Trailing Arms, Torsion Bars
wheelbase 2362 mm / 93.0 in
front track 1295 mm / 51.0 in
rear track 1295 mm / 51.0 in
length 4026 mm / 158.5 in
width 1562 mm / 61.5 in
height 1016 mm / 40.0 in
transmission DB 5-Speed Manual
gear ratios 2.9:1, 1.89:1, 1.27:1, 1.00:1, 0.83:1
final drive 4.11:1