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Aston Martin DB2 buying guide (1950-1953)

2016-05-30 Read: 87x

Taking over the rather more old-fashioned 2-Litre Sports, the Aston Martin DB2 represented the first of the traditional coupe body shape for the David Brown-owned company. Thanks to the lightweight body clothing a shortened 2-Litre Sports spaceframe chassis, and potent 105bhp power output, the DB2 was capable of some seriously impressive performance stats, posting a 0-60mph time of 11.2secs and a top speed of 116mph. 

Thanks to Brown's takeover of Lagonda in 1949, the Aston Martin was fitted with a very advanced 2.6-litre straight-six engine, featuring a double overhead camshaft arrangement as used in Lagondas. Based on a design from William Watson and WO Bentley, the engine was a revelation when compared to the uninspiring pushrod unit fitted to the previous model.

Some even say that the low weight of the DB2 makes it the much more sporty car than its considerably heavier successors. The DB2 was also extremely successful in various motorsport events, including the 1949 and 1950 Le Mans 24 Hours. 

Which one to buy?

A total of 411 DB2 models were built by Aston Martin, with the vast majority of models coming out of the factory as two-door saloons (a total of 309). The remaining examples are mostly drop head coupes, which offer an open-air experience. Five DB2s were sent to Graber of Switzerland for special bodies. Rather than the aluminium body panels of the regular cars, Graber used steel in the production of its convertible models, making them a fair amount heavier than the regular alloy cars. 

All DB2s feel fairly sprightly, but if you want more significant performance then find an example fitted with the higher-compression Vantage-spec engine, which will hit 121mph. If you’re looking to take your DB2 racing, then this is the version you will want to find. As production went on, the DB2 became more luxurious, and focused on comfort rather than outright performance, so take this into consideration when browsing the classifieds. 

Performance and specs

  • Engine 2580cc, straight–six
  • Power 105bhp @ 5000rpm
  • Torque 125lb ft @ 3100rpm
  • Top Speed 116mph
  • 0-60mph 11.2secs
  • Fuel consumption approx 20mpg
  • Gearbox Four-speed manual

 Dimensions and weight

  • Wheelbase 2515mm
  • Length 4128mm
  • Width 1651mm
  • Height 1359mm
  • Weight 1112kg

Common problems

  • The engines are very strong, and relatively unstrained in the DB2, and problems are unlikely in a well-maintained example. Check for oil pressure above 50psi when the engine has warmed up.
  • Headgaskets are prone to leakage due to liner issues and very fine tolerances. Check for mayonnaise in the oil, showing that oil and water has mixed.
  • If the engine requires a rebuild, an expert must do it, as setting up the liners is a very tricky job, while getting parts can be very tricky.
  • It is vital that you check the chassis number and engine number against Aston Martin’s official records, as it is not unusual for cars to have received replacement engines in the past. This might affect future values, so be vigilant. 
  • The front suspension, an independent coil spring and trailing arm arrangement, requires frequent attention. If neglected, it will require an expensive rebuild.
  • Check the condition of the interior. If you’re planning a full restoration, it pays to find a car with a complete interior, and while things like seats and dashboards can usually be repaired, finding spares can be almost impossible. 

Model history 

  • 1949: Three prototype DB2 coupes entered into the Le Mans 24 Hours
  • April 1950: Production DB2 unveiled to the public
  • Late 1950: Drophead Coupe version introduced
  • January 1951: 125bhp Vantage-spec engine introduced
  • 1952: Brake drums widened to improve performance
  • April 1953: Production of the DB2 ends

Summary and prices

While the DB2 is the most valuable of all the pre-DB4 standard road cars, it still represents fantastic value when compared against the later models. An above-average two-door saloon is likely to set you back around £220,000. More average examples come in at between £130,000-£160,000. If you’re looking for a restoration project, which is often the best value, you should be looking at something in the £90,000 range. 

As with most Astons, the convertible model is worth considerably more money. The best drop head coupe can cost in excess of £320,000. A restoration project could potentially be picked up from £100,000. Budget around £160,000 for a runner, with an average car fetching upwards of £200,000.

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