Aston Martin DB2 Drophead Coupe

2014-04-07 Read: 331x

During the ownership of A.C. Bertelli, Aston Martin was a very successful manufacturer of small (cycle-fendered) sports cars in the 1930s. With legendary cars like the Ulster, the manufacturer scored many class wins in the most important races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. From 1937 the company slowly changed policy by putting more emphasis on road cars. The culmination of these developments was the Atom prototype launched in 1939. It featured a very modern steel spaceframe chassis and an equally modern four door sedan body. It was after driving the Atom in 1947, that gearbox manufacturer David Brown decided to buy Aston Martin.

With the Claude Hill designed Atom chassis, Brown had a strong basis for a new range of models, but he rightfully felt the push-rod engines available to be inadequate. Instead of having a new engine designed, he shopped around some more and bought Lagonda. As part of the deal, Brown obtained the rights to produce the W.O. Bentley designed twin-cam six cylinder engine. Before this deal was done, Aston Martin had already produced a small series of two-litre sports cars based on the Atom design. These were called 2-Litre Sports at the time, but in retrospect are usually referred to as DB1. At the first Post-War 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1949, a six cylinder engined racer debuted that would prove to be the first of a long line of successful Aston Martin road and racing cars.

At the New York Auto Show in April of 1950 the production version of the six cylinder car was launched. Dubbed the DB2, it featured a 2.6 litre version of the Lagonda six cylinder engine and sported an attractive two-door coupe body penned by Frank Feeley. The new Aston Martin was an immediate hit and the small factory could hardly cope with the orders. On track there were plenty of successes as well with the Works DB2s scoring first and second in their class at Le Mans in 1950. The win in the Index of Performance was possibly an even better indication of the DB2's excellent design. The first fifty cars off the production line featured very prominent external grilles, which were fortunately removed. A more powerful Vantage model was offered from 1951.

From 1951 onwards, the Works used the specifically built DB3 for racing purposes and the DB2 served as a road car only. The first major revision to the successful two-seater was the addition of two rear seats in 1953, which resulted in the aptly named DB2/4. Like the DB2, the four-seater was available as a fixed and drop head. The hard top model was the first car to ever feature a 'hatch-back', used to access the rear luggage compartment. Privateers continued to race the DB2/4 and the success in Rallies inspired the Works to prepare three examples for the 1955 Rallye Monte Carlo. One example finished first in class and the other cars' results were sufficient to win the Team Prize. Several chassis were delivered to coachbuilders to have custom bodies fitted with the 'Wacky' Arnolt commissioned Bertone Spiders as the most famous.

There was a major revision for 1956 with the introduction of the three litre version of the six cylinder engine to form the DB2/4 Mk II. It came standard with a 140 bhp engine, but there was a more powerful 165 bhp version available, which featured larger valves and a high-lift camshaft. The hatch-back was retained, but a second fixed-head model was offered with a more conventional tapered roof. Aston Martin again made the chassis available to coach builders to have them fitted with custom bodies. The most striking of these was a Spyder debuted at the 1956 Earls Cours show in London and was the work of Touring. Three cars were constructed, but sadly the anticipated orders did not come through. This first contact between the two companies was no doubt instrumental for the partnership that would start in 1958 with the DB4 and would last well into the 1960s.

Two years later, the DB2 underwent the fourth and final evolution into the DB2/4 Mk III or simply DB Mk III. While the overall design was still similar to the previous three generations, the revised and arguably improved front facia made the Mk III a lot easier to distinguish. The mechanicals were also much revised with the base engine now producing 162 bhp and front disc brakes were available for the first time. Production ceased in 1958 when the DB2 was replaced by the DB4, which featured an all new platform chassis and Tadek Marek designed 3.7 litre straight six engine. Today the DB2s are often overlooked, but they were vital for the survival of Aston Martin in those difficult Post-War years.


Configuration Straight 6
Location Front, longitudinally mounted
Construction cast-iron block and head
Displacement 2.58 liter / 157.4 cu in
Bore / Stroke 78.0 mm (3.1 in) / 90.0 mm (3.5 in)
Compression 6.5:1
Valvetrain 2 valves / cylinder, SOHC
Fuel feed 2 SU Carburettors
Aspiration Naturally Aspirated
Power 105 bhp / 78 KW @ 5000 rpm
Torque 169 Nm / 125 ft lbs @ 3100 rpm
BHP/Liter 41 bhp / liter
Chassis body on tubular chassis
Front suspension trailing parallel links, coil springs, Armstrong shock absorbers
Rear suspension rigid axle, radius arms, coil springs, Armstrong shock absorbers
Steering Marles cam and double roller
Brakes drums, all-round
Gearbox David Brown 4 speed Manual
Drive Rear wheel drive
Weight 1200 kilo / 2645.5 lbs
Length / Width / Height 4299 mm (169.3 in) / 1651 mm (65 in) / 1359 mm (53.5 in)
Wheelbase / Track (fr/r) 2515 mm (99 in) / 1372 mm (54 in) / 1372 mm (54 in)
Performance figures
Power to weight 0.09 bhp / kg

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