ALL THE ROAD CARS 1930s-1950s
Using the new 2-litre engine in wet-sump form, the 15/98 range (15 from the RAC rating, 98 the peak bhp) included saloons and tourers, but they were heavy and hence slow (slow-selling, too: a planned run of 100 cars was slashed to 50). Better was an attractive short-chassis roadster (pictured). There was also a unique ‘monoposto’ streamlined single-seater designed to go for the 2-litre outer circuit record at Brooklands. The outbreak of war meant it was put into extended storage before its potential was realised.
The DB2 was the first officially to wear the initials of Aston’s new owner, David Brown. It also featured the marque’s first six-cylinder engine – in fact a Lagonda unit designed under WO Bentley and picked up when Brown acquired Lagonda shortly after bagging Aston. This 2.6-litre twin-cam was initially temperamental, but once sorted it endowed the sleek, Frank Feeley-designed DB2 with impressive performance, especially in 125bhp Vantage form from 1951. A total of 411 DB2S were built, including 102 dropheads.
DB MKIII 1957-1959
The MKIII (note: not DB3) was effectively the third series of the DB2/4, but Aston dropped the 2/4 nomenclature for its 1957-1959 range of coupes, dropheads and fixed-heads. The lines were smoother and more purposeful, the grille previewing decades of Astons to come, and even in its lowliest tune the Willie Watson six was now making well over 150bhp (up to 190bhp on triple Webers). The MKIII actually overlapped with the introduction of the DB4 by several months, and total production of all three variants hit 551.
2-litre Sports (DB1) 1948-1950
Retrospectively known as the DB1, the 2-litre Sports was the first Aston Martin to appear after the Second World War and the first under the ownership of wealthy industrialist David Brown. It was based largely on a pre-war prototype known as the Atom, and it featured refinements such as all-round coil spring suspension as well as a new 2-litre pushrod four-cylinder engine designed by Claude Hill. Lacklustre performance, largely a result of the heavy bodywork, and a high price meant only 16 examples were sold.
The ‘4’ tacked onto the end of the DB2’S title denotes the addition of two extra seats. The 2+2 seating was made more habitable by a higher rear roofline, and there was a handy ‘hatchback’ opening rear window. The extra weight slightly took the edge off the performance, so Aston boosted capacity to 2.9 litres in 1954, taking power to 140bhp. The mkii of 1955 incorporated a rear-end restyle, and there was also a rare ‘notchback’ hardtop version of the drophead. Around 750 DB2/4S were produced in total.
DB4/DB4 GT 1958-1963
The definitive Aston shape was born with the DB4, the work of Italian design house Touring, its ‘superleggera’ aluminium bodywork being wrapped around a steel platform. The DB4 also introduced a new, Tadek Marek-designed all-alloy twin-cam straight-six, originally in 240bhp 3.7-litre form. In all there were five series of DB4S, each adding subtle refinements to the original formula. Vantage versions had 266bhp, and the short-wheelbase trackbiased GT a formidable 302bhp. Total production: 1210.
SPECIFICATION Engine 3670cc, in-line 6 Power 240bhp @ 5500rpm Torque 240lb ft @ 4250rpm 0-60mph 9.0sec Top speed 140mph
SPECIFICATION Engine 2922cc, in-line 6 Power 162bhp @ 5500rpm Torque n/a 0-60mph 9.3sec Top speed 120mph
SPECIFICATION Engine 2580cc, in-line 6 Power 105bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph 12.4sec Top speed 116mph
SPECIFICATION Engine 2922cc, in-line 6 Power 140bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph 10.5sec Top speed 120mph
SPECIFICATION Engine 1949cc, in-line 4 Power 98bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph n/a Top speed 85mph
SPECIFICATION Engine 1949cc, in-line 4 Power 90bhp Torque n/a 0-60mph n/a Top speed 93mph