1953 Aston Martin DB2
Year of manufacture1953
Engine numberVB6J 286L
Number of seats2
Ex - Sir David Brown, Peter Collins, and Simon Draper
1953 Aston Martin DB 2/4 'Notchback'
Coachwork by Mulliners
Chassis no. LML/515
Engine no. VB6J 286L
'David Brown had a good eye for styling; he even made his tractors look good. He was also one of the few people who could change the shape of the DB2 without detracting from its appearance.' Chris Harvey, 'Aston Martin and Lagonda'.
The history of this unique prototype Aston Martin DB2/4 is well known and extensively documented. 'LML/515' is an early example the production chassis number sequence commenced at 'LML/501' built shortly after the DB2/4's introduction in October 1953. With the launch of the '2+2' DB2/4, Aston Martin had 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-litre 140bhp 'VB6J' engine was installed, providing 118mph top speed and 60mph in around 11 seconds. This was one of the fastest cars then built in Great Britain - with l00mph achievable in third gear and around 120mph maximum - possessing impeccable handling plus a level of comfort rare in any high-performance car.
'LML/515' started life as a drophead coupé (one of approximately 102 made on the DB2/4 chassis). The accompanying copy guarantee form shows David Brown, Esq as the 'purchaser' and records the car as a 3.0-litre model fitted with engine number 'VB6J/50/28', noted as replaced with 'VB6J/286' in June 1958. The 'Service Work' section notes that the replacement engine was fitted with the original 'L' type (big valves and high-lift camshafts) cylinder head, which had been reconditioned. The body type is given as 'hard top' and the coachbuilder as Mulliners.
It is believed that at some time in 1954 David Brown had asked his body supplier Mulliners to convert 'LML/515' to fixed-head coupé configuration while retaining the overall shape of the erect soft-top. In its new form, this car became, in effect, the prototype of the forthcoming DB2/4 'notchback' coupé, which was launched at the 1955 London Motor Show alongside the rest of the 'Mark II' range. Registered '5341 H', 'LML/515' was used for publicity photographs for the Mark II fixed-head coupé and over the years has been pictured in numerous books about Aston Martin, copied extracts from which may be found in the most extensive history file. It is the only fixed-head coupé built on the DB2/4 'Mark I' chassis.
The second owner listed on the guarantee is Peter Collins, c/o Kidderminster Motors (13.7.55), the celebrated British racing driver who had already distinguished himself driving Aston Martins, taking the Newport Pagnell cars to victory at the Goodwood Nine Hours race in 1952 and the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod in 1953. Just three months after taking delivery of his DB2/4, Collins shared the winning Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR with Stirling Moss at the Targa Florio, a drive that earned him a place in Ferrari's Formula 1 team for 1956. It is said that Enzo Ferrari requested that Collins should not drive his Aston Martin to races, as the British company were Ferrari's rivals in sportscar racing at the time. The Aston Martin is mentioned in Chris Nixon's biography of Collins and his pal Mike Hawthorn 'Mon Ami Mate'.
After Peter Collins' tragic death in 1958, 'LML/515' passed to the third owner listed on the guarantee form, one M O Bamberger of British Artid Plastics Ltd, Slough, Bucks (change undated). Its next known owner is one Christopher Harrison of Frome, Somerset, whose name appears as previous keeper on the copy V5 registration document recording His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan as owner (from 2nd August 1982). A dedicated motoring enthusiast and avid collector of fine cars, King Hussein immediately sent 'LML/515' to Bristol Cars Ltd at Filton for a complete rebuild (bill on file). Bristol Cars' accompanying letter states that the rebuild was completed in March 1984 and that the car had subsequently been to Jordan before returning to the UK, where it was re-registered in King Hussein's name in August 1987.
Bristol Cars Ltd appears to have sold 'LML/515' to a Mrs E Corke of London W8 (see invoice dated 22.6.87 on file) but the next (V5) registration record shows the next known owner (as previous keeper) to be Mrs Rosemary Aslett of Weybridge, Surrey. The owner is shown as Simon Draper of London W11, one of the co-founders, together with Richard Branson and others, of Virgin Records, who acquired 'LML/515', by this time carrying its present registration 'VMF 123', in February 1990.
An enthusiastic Aston Martin collector, Mr Draper kept 'LML/515' for the next 15 years (registration documents show brief ownership by a group of trustees during this period) spending in excess of £95,000 on its complete restoration by Aston Martin Lagonda at Newport Pagnell during the early/mid-1990s (see bills dated May 1991 and March 1994 on file). The extensive history file, close inspection of which is highly recommended, also contains a V5C registration document and a substantial quantity of old tax discs and expired MoT certificates for the period of Mr Draper's ownership. In 2005 'LML/515' was sold to its next owner, Mr Jan De Rue of Lembeke, Belgium (see registration documents and FIVA Identity Card on file), passing to the current owner in the USA in 2007.
An important and historic milestone in Aston Martin's post-war development, 'LML/515' brings with it the additional cachet of not only having belonged to a Formula 1 driver and a Head of State, but also the company's post-war saviour and patron, David Brown.
Should the vehicle remain in the UK, local import taxes of 5% will be applied to the purchase price.