Having minimal success with the DB3, Aston Martin had designer A.G. Watson engineer a new car. In May of 1953 a new prototype appeared at Charterhill. The car was largely based on the DB3 and featured a lighter chassis with a reduced wheelbase.
Through the years of 1953 to 1957, the DB3 raced and evolved greatly. The first version featured the specification below, with the final version having a 240HP supercharged Inline-6.
The DB3S introduced many welcomed changes over the DB3. Most importantly, the Salisbury hypoid-bevel final drive was replaced with a David Brown spirial-bevel verison. It was the hypoid spiral drive which retired two DB3s at the 1952 Le Mans. Other changes included a new body, chassis and rear suspension geometry.
DB3Ss helped Aston Martin establish many international victories. During its debut at Charterhill, a DB3S driven by Reg Parnell beat out an Ecurie Escosse C-Type for an overall victory. Shortly after, three DB3Ss raced Le Mans with little success. This was the only race which Aston Matrin lost in 1953. During the Tourist Trophy, Goodwood Nine Hours and British Empire Trophy, Aston Matrin took overall victories against British competition. With some newely found victories, Aston Martin looked to secure more international success.
In 1954, the DB3Ss didn’t take overall victory at Le Mans, Sebring or the Milla Miglia. For Silverstone, two coupe versions were made up with twin-spark engines developing 225 horsepower. One of the Le Mans cars was fitted with a supercharger for the first time. This helped the car develop 240 horsepower at 6000 rpm. Despite the developments, a 4.9 litre Ferrari took the victory at LeMans.
In 1955, Aston Martin benefitted from a 3-litre sports cars limitation on engine capacity. This year Aston Martin abandoned the DB3S coupes which raced and crashed at Le Mans. These designs were very unstable at high speeds. Both coupes were rebodied as open cars for the 1955 season. Victory was seen at Silverstone with a second place at Le Mans. This was the best LeMans result Aston Martin achieved up to 1955.
1956 was a non-eventfull year for Aston Martin. A second place was again achieved by Moss and Colins at LeMans. It was also this year that Aston Martin started to focus on an all-new car that would see most success the firm had ever achieved. This car was the DBR1 which replaced the DB3S in 1957.
From 1953 to 1957 around 30 DB3Ss were produced. Eleven of these were factory works cars. The Aston with a blue egg crate grill featured above is a factory team car DB3S/10.
Story by Richard Owen
1953 – 1955
Water-Cooled, Twin Spark, Inline-6
DOHC 2 Valves per Cyl
2922 cc / 178.3 in³
83 mm / 3.27 in
90 mm / 3.54 in
167.8 kw / 225.0 bhp @ 5500 rpm
77.0 bhp per litre
262.85 bhp per tonne
246.76 nm / 182.0 ft lbs @ 3800 rpm
body / frame
Aluminum over Tubular Frame
Inboard Al-Fin Drums
Rack & Pinion
Trailing Arms w/Torsion Bars w.Anti-Roll Bars
De Dion Axle w/Trailing Links, Transverse Torsion Bars
856 kg / 1887 lbs
2210 mm / 87.0 in
1244 mm / 49.0 in
1244 mm / 49.0 in
3905 mm / 153.7 in
1492 mm / 58.7 in
1054 mm / 41.5 in
S430/12 4-Speed Manual
2.29:1, 1.87:1, 1.26:1, 1.00:1
~225.3 kph / 140.0 mph
Auction Sales History
1955 Aston Martin DB3S/111 – sold for $5,500,000 One of Only 20 Customer DB3s Models Built. Among the Most Correct and Authentic Examples Surviving. Impressive Show and Competition Pedigree. A Fixture in the Forshaw Collection for More than 40 Years. Offered with original Engine Block and Significant Documentation. Auction Source: 2014 Pebble Beach Auctions by Gooding & Company
1955 Aston Martin DB3S Sports Racing Car DB3S/118 – sold for $3,685,000 Original chassis, numbered engine, and bodywork. Delivered new to Holland. Outstanding provenance with known ownership and documentation from new. In the hands of two well-known Aston Martin collectors for the past 48 years. Only privateer car fitted with a twin plug head at the factory. Auction Source: Monterey 2012 by RM Auctions
DB3S/104, the car offered here, was completed on May 23, 1955, just days before the Hyeres 12 Hours where it finished Third overall with owner/driver Les Cosh and co-pilot Dick Cobden. After its European season, where it also competed in Portugal and the UK, it was the only one of the three Kangaroo Stable cars which did not go to Australia. Instead, it was sold by Cosh to California racer Rod Carveth in October, 1955. Reputably the first DB3S acquired by an American, the car arrived in San Francisco in January, 1956. Soon afterwards Carveth actually removed the body to repaint it in his favorite black livery and apply his “lucky” number 54 in preparation for its first event, on March 18 in Stockton, CA, alongside DB3S/112 owned by Jack Graham. Carveth took an impressive Seventh overall in his debut outing.