The first ever Aston Martin DB2, the car credited with saving the manufacturer from almost “certain failure” in the late 1940s, has been sold after being listed for £250,000.
This first production model was used as a runaround by company boss David Brown, before being shipped to America and taking part in the inaugural 12 Hours of Sebring. After changing hands several times, it has now been sold by RM Sotheby’s.
The incredibly rare and historic car, which helped pave the way for the marque’s iconic DB4 and DB5 models, is currently in bits making it one of the world’s most historic motoring restoration jobs.
After purchasing Aston in 1947, Brown’s first production car was the retrospectively-named DB1, but the car was unsuccessful, selling only 15 units.
Like so many great production and competition cars, the DB2 was created as a solution to its DB1 predecessor’s inherent problems, making its public debut in early 1950.
The DB1 was designed as a competitor of the XK120, but was found to be underpowered when compared to its rival. Brown had also bought Lagonda, which brought in car stylist Frank Feeley and engine designer WO Bentley to help with the next model.
Whilst the former put his talents into creating a svelte profile for the DB2, the latter designed the twin-cam six-cylinder engine which when combined with the new all-aluminium body helped make the car a much more potent force than its predecessor.
Although just 411 units were sold, the car was perceived to be an instant success, with Motor Sport’s Bill Boddy among those impressed.
“The DB2 merits praise under so many headings,” he wrote in February 1951. “It is exceedingly fast, capable of 115mph. The engine is never very hard-pressed, yet is exceptionally smooth, willing and durable, the road-holding, steering and handling out of the ordinary, the comfort factor high.
“A superlative machine […] driving it is an epicurean pleasure.”
Similar to Rudolf Uhlenhaut’s 300 SLR Coupé and Colin Chapman’s highly customised Lotus Esprit, Brown is said to have used this first ever production model, chassis LML/50/11, as a runaround when developing it before it was imported to the USA for amateur racer George Schrafft, who had purchased it upon a chance meeting with the former in Cannes whilst holidaying.
From there the car went to another non-professional enthusiast David Hirsch. He competed with his friend Bob Gegen, who conceived the 12 Hours of Sebring at the Florida air strip when flying over himself.
Hirsch would enter LML/50/11 at the race’s first ever edition in 1952 with Gegen, with Motor Sport describing the pair in its race report as the “great pre-race favourite” – their eventual retirement indicated that not much has changed on the bumpy airfield.
“The Aston-Martin of Dave Hirsch, with Bob Gegen as co-driver, was abandoned at the first chicane on the 29th lap with the shock-absorbers out of commission, which showed a wise decision and consideration for other contestants on this tortuous course,” said our unnamed American correspondent.
In spite of the car’s suspension failure, the pair entered it for several other races that year until switching to faster machinery.
The car was kept by Hirsch till at least 1959, and has undergone various aspects of restoration but now sits on a chassis jig, with the body ready for priming and painting.
Present also is a period-correct DB2, engine, gearbox and differential – it just needs to right person to put it all together.