1951 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage
“Export or Die” was the industrial watchword in England after World War II, and Aston Martin drew on its competition past to make sure it fell into the former category. The new DB2 was announced in April 1950 to coincide with the New York Auto Show and many aficionados believed this might be the best car the company had ever made.
Coupled with an elegant factory-built saloon body and a handsome convertible coupe - the first of which was commandeered by owner David Brown for his personal use - it was clear Aston Martin had set its sights set on America. Sales from the 1950 New York Auto Show totaled 100 cars, and the company seemed set on a financially secure path.
That path led directly to the race track and David Brown was smart enough to know that sales of this elegant coupe would depend on racing success. He brought in John Wyer to manage his racing team and entered three cars for Le Mans, finishing 5th and 6th overall and first and second in class.
The factory team cars were then lent to journalists as the London Motor Show loomed. It turned out to be an astute move, as all the writers were impressed by the DB2’s performance, which might have been because the cars were fitted with the as-yet-unreleased 125 bhp Vantage engines, some 20 bhp over stock units.
In those days a sleek aerodynamic coupe that could do 0-60 in 10.7 seconds, with a top speed of 117.3 mph was bound to be an attention-getter. Subsequent road tests by other magazines were also notable for the length of time they took the cars. How about 1,900 miles in 10 days by The Autocar which called the DB2 “in the first rank for handling and sheer brilliance of performance”? MotorSport then borrowed David Brown’s own convertible for a mid-winter test in 1950-51 in dreadful conditions, and concluded “in short, it’s one of the world’s really great cars” so the buzz among the press was real.
In an inspired move, the Le Mans class-winner was lent to The Autocar for a road test on its return to London. There was no overall speed limit in England in those days and the DB2 was clocked at 130 mph, with 0-100 mph coming up in about 28 seconds. The factory hung on to the three DB2 team cars for a number of years, eventually “adopting them out” to good homes. One was sold at a London auction in 2009 for $910, 865.
This then is the family pedigree of the Vantage-engined coupe offered here, one of 311 built between 1949 and ‘53. It was first registered in Philadelphia to Robert B. Publicka, who had acquired it on 22nd January, 1952 from Hoffman Motors, the celebrated importer in New York City. The car comes with documents, dating back to its factory build sheet, which notes it was delivered in Post Office Red with grey leather interior and red piping. The car was discovered in original condition in 2002 and received a fully-documented, ‘ground-up’ restoration by highly reputed coachbuilder Quality Cars and ACR in Italy.
This Vantage coupe is beautifully finished in classic British Racing Green, with tan leather interior and new chrome wire wheels. It comes with the original 2.6 litre engine kept aside for preservation and is currently fitted with a high performance, 3.0 litre unit built by Alan Wheatley of Alperform. Considered to boast perhaps the most elegant post-war Aston Martin body style, it is described as running very well and would be as at home on the French Riviera as cruising through Big Sur on California’s Highway 1, on its way to Pebble Beach. Oh, and it’s successfully completed no fewer than five Mille Miglias too, so if you were wondering what to enter next year…