1954 Aston Martin DB2/4
Year of manufacture1954
The Bertone-bodied Aston Martins of the 1950s paired Italian design flair with solid British engineering. The collaboration was significant, eventually paving the way for the Touring-styled DB4, 5, and 6, and the special Zagato-bodied DB4 GTs. One of only two DB2/4 chassis built with this striking convertible body style, and possessing a fascinating provenance, LML/506 is an important coachbuilt Aston Martin from the early years of the David Brown era.
The Aston Martin DB2 debuted in 1950 with elegant yet typically British conservative styling. Based in Chicago, S.H. “Wacky” Arnolt made his money in steel, later diversifying into automobile distribution. Wacky loved foreign cars, and at the 1951 Torino Auto Show he struck a deal with Carrozzeria Bertone to build some custom-bodied MG TDs and later a limited number of Aston Martin DB2/4s.
The spectacular DB2/4 Drophead Coupe presented here is among this exclusive group of Bertone-bodied Aston Martins. According to factory records, chassis LML/506 was completed by Aston Martin on June 9, 1953, and dispatched to Carrozzeria Bertone in Torino on November 16th.
While Nuccio Bertone had in-house stylist Franco Scaglione design three DB2/4 Spiders (LML/503, LML/505, and LML/507), the two Drophead Coupes – chassis LML/504 and LML/506 – have long been attributed to freelance designer Giovanni Michelotti. Not only did these two virtually identical cars possess a decidedly Italian flair, they maintained traditional Aston Martin design cues, including the firm’s distinctively shaped radiator grille. Both cars were built to the highest standards, with extraordinary attention to detail and luxurious appointments throughout.
Ordered through British Motor Car Distributors in California, chassis LML/506 was delivered to its first owner, Edith Field, on November 12, 1954. A wealthy woman living in San Francisco’s exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood, Ms. Field was a charter member of the San Francisco Opera Association and an avid car enthusiast, also owning an AC Ace-Bristol. In 1955, Ms. Field entered her new Bertone-bodied Aston Martin in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® and received Third Place in the class for Two Seater Sports Cars, $4,500–$10,000. A photograph of Ms. Field’s Aston Martin appears in Robert T. Devlin’s classic book, Pebble Beach: A Matter of Style.
After passing among a succession of owners, LML/506 was rediscovered in Tennessee in the mid-1980s. In 1986, the coachbuilt DB2/4 was sold to famed Formula 1 and former Aston Martin works racing driver Innes Ireland. After a short time, Ireland sold LML/506, still in unrestored condition, to David Clark of noted classic car dealer Taylor & Crawley in London. During Mr. Clark’s ownership, a restoration was begun with Mill Lane Engineering, though the project eventually stalled. From there, the Bertone-bodied Aston Martin was sold in 2006 to noted collector and vintage racer Tarek Mahmoud, who had Aston Martin specialist Goldsmith and Young complete the restoration to a concours standard.
Soon after the restoration was completed, LML/506 was sold to another UK collector. In September 2011, the Bertone Drophead Coupe made its post-restoration debut at the AMOC Autumn Concours held at Chavenage House, winning First Prize in the Feltham Aston Class. Since this outing, the DB2/4 resided in a private collection based in Southern California, before joining a respected midwestern collection in 2017.
Still in excellent overall condition, this coachbuilt Aston Martin is offered with a proper tool kit and, more importantly, a remarkably extensive history file. Included inside are numerous magazine articles on the Bertone-bodied Aston Martins, a copy of the factory build sheet, BMIHT Certificate, correspondence, restoration records, photographs, and ownership documents. More than just a thorough history, the file provides wonderful color to an outstanding and truly unique vehicle.
The appearance of LML/506 at auction represents a special opportunity to acquire a coachbuilt Aston Martin of quality and distinction. Given its attractive open Bertone coachwork, fascinating provenance, and show-quality restoration, this Aston Martin is a very special example of the vaunted DB2/4 – one that is worthy of serious consideration.