Aston Martin’s first successful post-war production car was the DB2. It used engineering principles from both Aston Martin and Lagonda after David Brown purchased both companies in 1947. It became the first successful David Brown Aston Martin and set a trend for many more incredible cars.
Equiped with an impressive list of features, the Aston Martin could be considered the best British sports car available in 1950. Laurence Pomeroy wrote for Motor in October 1950 “It would appear that every so often the gods pass over some works or another and with an inclination of the head inspire the production of a car with outstanding virtues. The Aston Martin DB2 stands worthy in the pedigree of real motor cars stretching back through the 4 ½ Bentley to the 30/98 Vauxhall.”
Engineering for the DB2 was first set out with the 2-Litre Sports Aston Martin’s first post-war sports car. It had a tubular steel chassis and distinctive two-seat tourer body designed by Frank Freeley. Engineer Ted Cutting shortened the this chassis and fitted Lagonda’s highly acclaimed 2.3 liter engine. A highlight was the four-wheel coil-spring suspension and a well braced chassis with triangulation and upper side-rails.
Some of the very first DB2s were prepared for the track. Three interim models were entered for the first post-war 24 hours of LeMans in 1949. Unfortunately, disaster struck, and a fatal crash that killed works driver Pierre Marechal. Soon after LeMans race, a production DB2 was launched at the New York Motor show.
Production versions were very similar to the works racing cars which had a Lagonda 2.6 liter engine, an improved DB1 space frame, stressed aluminum bodywork and the same overall appearance.
During its release at the 1950 New York motor show, the DB2 offered performance of a Lemans race car with the comforts of a highway tourer. The only car British car offering similar performance during that period was the affordable Jaguar XK120. This caught the attention of visitors to the show and 100 cars were ordered during the car’s launch.
Phil Hill tested one of the cars and said “the Aston handles as well as any sports car I’ve driven, far better than any passenger car…the DB2 handles like a dream and is a lot of fun to drive.”
During a three year production run DB2s sold as fast as Aston Martin could produce them. A total of 339 coupes and 102 drop head were manufactured. In later years, Aston offered a more potent Vantage version and the DB2/4, a longer more spacious car which had a boot and two rear seats.
The DB2, in all its forms, was replaced by the DB4 launched in 1959. Leading up to the DB4, the DB2 was enlarged into the DB2/4 and Drophead Coupés were offered on all examples.
Story by Richard Owen
Series Production Car
1950 – 1953
1950 New York Motor Show
Water Cooled, Cast Iron, Inline-6
DOHC 2 Valves / Cyl
Twin SU Carburettors
2580 cc / 157.4 in³
78 mm / 3.07 in
90 mm / 3.54 in
93.2 kw / 105 bhp @ 5000 rpm
40.7 bhp per litre
92.59 bhp per tonne
169.48 nm / 125.0 ft lbs @ 3100 rpm
body / frame
Aluminum over Tubular Steel Spaceframe Chassis
Front Engine / RWD
Girling Hydrualic Drums
Girling Hydrualic Drums
Worm & Roller
Trailing Arms w/Shock Absorbers, Coil Springs, Anti-roll Bar
Live Axle w/Coil Springs, Radius Arms, Panhard Rod.
This 1953 DB2 Coupé, chassis LML/50/393, was delivered new on 22nd May 1953 to Brooklands of Bond Street, London for Mr. I.S. Duffus, under whom it was registered “NUV 944.” It passed to Mr. Phillip Scofield, and during its first four years of existence, the car was maintained by the factory. In 1958, M.J.A. Hill acquired the DB2, and a photograph of the car dated 1958, during Mr. Hill’s tenure, is included in the historical file. In 1964, W.H. Ward of Moseley purchased the car from Queen’s Park Garage. Stored and unused from 1966 to 1985 when Mr. Keith Hampson acquired the car, a restoration over a 10-year period commenced shortly thereafter and ended in 1996.
The late-production, original right-hand drive 1953 DB2 Coupé offered here, chassis LML/50/213, is powered by its original matching-numbers engine, VB6B/50/1115. Finished in Peony Red, the car retains the original grey-piped burgundy seats, which display a lovely patina. Interestingly, the DB2 is fitted with a set of chrome-trimmed cooling ‘portholes’ on both sides of the bonnet, quite reminiscent of those used by Vignale in period on its own coachbuilt Ferrari bodies. The exterior paintwork is very presentable, and with the exception of some imperfections noted in the window trim, the chrome is excellent. The original trafficators are not presently connected, but a set of Lucas auxiliary rear directional signals is fitted to the car. A correct set of silver-painted 60-spoke wire wheels complements the classic lines of this very fine first-generation DB2. This car is complete with a copy of the original build sheet and works service history from new through August 1964. All in all, this is a wonderful Aston Martin, ideal not only for the marque purist but also the novice grand touring enthusiast in search of a sporting yet comfortable event car.