1955 Aston Martin DB2/4
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1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 3.0-Litre Drophead Coupé
Coachwork by Mulliners of Birmingham
Registration no. TDT 500
Chassis no. LML/1047
Engine no. V13/63/673
'The Aston Martin DB2/4 is an expensive car designed to cater for the connoisseur of sports cars who is not limited by financial considerations.' - Autocar, 2nd October 1953.
Successful industrialist David Brown had bought the struggling Aston Martin concern in 1946, having seen a 'High Class Motor Business' advertised for sale in The Times newspaper with an asking price of £30,000. The following year he added Lagonda to his expanding motor-manufacturing empire, a move that made the latter's twin-overhead-camshaft, 2.6-litre six available for a new Aston Martin sports car. This power unit had been designed by Willie Watson while the great W O Bentley was Lagonda's Chief Engineer, and is commonly referred to as the 'Bentley engine'.
Announced in April 1950, with production commencing the following month, the 'DB Mark II' owed much to the Claude Hill-designed 'Two Litre Sports' (latterly known as the 'DB1') using a shortened and modified version of the latter's tubular chassis and identical suspension, which was independent at the front for the first time in an Aston Martin. Italian-inspired, the timelessly elegant GT bodywork was the creation of Frank Feeley, and with more power (105bhp at 5,000rpm) and less weight, the sleek DB2 comfortably out-performed its predecessor. Aston Martin's three works entries for the 1949 Le Mans 24 Hours race were effectively prototypes of the forthcoming DB2.
With the introduction of the '2+2' DB2/4 in October 1953, Aston Martin extended the DB2's appeal to the hitherto untapped yet increasingly important market comprised of 'sports car enthusiasts with a family'. Modifications to the rear of the chassis plus a reduction in fuel tank capacity from 19 to 17 gallons liberated sufficient space within the existing design for two child-sized occasional rear seats. Alternatively, the rear seat backs could be folded down, thus creating a load-carrying platform that more than doubled the luggage space. The latter could be accessed via the 2/4's opening rear door, a pioneering example of the now commonplace 'hatchback' concept.
'This transformation gives the Aston Martin DB2/4 an unrivalled luggage-carrying capacity in a car which should be capable in favourable circumstances of achieving two miles a minute,' reported The Motor. 'The DB2/4 can truthfully claim to be the fastest car in the world capable of carrying two people with a month's luggage.'
Standard specification included the 2.6-litre 'VB6E' engine in 125bhp Vantage tune, but from early in 1954 the 3.0-litre 140bhp 'VB6J' engine was installed. Equipped with latter, the DB2/4 was one of the fastest cars then built in Great Britain - with 100mph achievable in third gear and around 120mph maximum - possessing impeccable handling plus a level of comfort rare in any high-performance car.
Aston Martins have appeared in countless movies over the years, - most notably the 'James Bond' franchise, featuring in 11 films - and fans of Alfred Hitchcock will no doubt remember the DB2/4 DHC from its prominent role in The Birds (1963) in which 'LML/944' was driven by co-star Tippi Hedren.
At least 102 drophead coupés were constructed on the DB2/4 chassis. The late example offered here, chassis number 'LML/1047', was retailed via Brooklands of Bond Street and sold new in November 1955 to Arnold Smith Esq of Moores Garage (Doncaster) Ltd. The accompanying copy guarantee form records the original colour scheme as Blue Haze with matching interior trim, and notes that it was re-cellulosed (repainted) twice, the colour being changed to Midnight Blue on the second occasion in October 1961. The car was first registered as 'TDT 500'.
The form lists three further owners: Metal Suppliers Ltd of Sheffield, W Barker of Luton, and T W Grillo of Godalming, none of these changes being dated.
Between Messrs Barker and Grillo, who in fact purchased the car in 1976, there were at least two other owners (Richard Wilkinson and John Badcock respectively) as evidenced by the accompanying copy of an old-style continuation logbook (issued 1962). The current vendor purchased the Aston from Thomas Grillo in September 2014.
In May 1962, while still registered to Wilkinson, 'LML/1047' was the subject of a road test carried out on behalf of Station Garage (Taplow) Ltd by Aston Martin Lagonda, whose detailed report is on file. The accompanying history file also contains photographs and numerous bills dating from the 38 years of Thomas Grillo's ownership, testifying to the care and attention he lavished on the car. Significant works carried out include body repairs and a re-spray (1999); rear axle overhaul (2001); 'lead-free' cylinder head conversion (2003); engine overhaul by Trinity Engineering (2006); distributor rebuild (2012); renovation of the convertible hood, frame, etc (2012); new carpets and hood bag (2012); and overhaul of the timing chains and tensioners (2013).
Described by the private vendor as in generally good condition, the engine being rated as 'excellent', this rare and desirable DB2/4 drophead is offered with a V5C Registration Certificate and the aforementioned history file.