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Aston Martin DB MkIII: Buying guide and review (1957-1959)

Aston Martin DB MkIII Aston Martin DB MkIII Aston Martin DB MkIII Aston Martin DB MkIII Aston Martin DB MkIII Aston Martin DB MkIII
There are plenty of reasons why you might be drawn to a DB MkIII. The DB name, for starters: the line of road cars that started with the DB2 in 1950 was the first enduring legacy of the David Brown era, and the MkIII – launched in 1957 – was the fastest and most refined of these ‘Feltham cars’. 
It’s practical, too, with its occasional rear seats and hatchback tail, and it’s a proper sports car, with racing in its bloodline (DB2s appeared several times at Le Mans). Fact is, in the late ’50s the MkIII was every bit as desirable as the DB4 that everyone goes gaga for today, and yet you can pick one up now for half the cost of a comparable ’4. The fact it’s not so ‘obvious’ makes it cool, too. But the main reason for coveting a MkIII has to be the way it looks.
Handsome thing, isn’t it? The earlier DB2 and 2/4 always had good proportions, but if we’re honest their rather rudimentary grilles did look rather as though they’d been bashed out by the local blacksmith. For the MkIII, stylist Frank Feeley adopted the sculpted aperture that he’d designed for the DB3S racer, and it was just what the road car needed. No more dodgy British dentistry; the Aston mouth was now a perfect blend of beauty and aggression.
That same signature shape was echoed inside with the new instrument binnacle, which finally placed all the instruments directly in front of the driver, rather than ranged across the centre of the dash in a lump of timber as they had been in the DB2 and 2/4 Mks I and II. There were also bucket seats in place of the previous benches.
The Willie Watson-designed ‘LB6’ straight-six engine had already grown from 2.6 to 2.9 litres in 1954, and now for the MkIII it was further developed, making it both stronger and more powerful. Peak power in standard tune on twin SUs was quoted as 162bhp at 5500rpm, with the option of a triple-carb Special Series engine, for which Aston Martin claimed 180bhp. 
The MkIII saw the standard fitment of front disc brakes (though in fact a few of the final 2/4 MkIIs also had them), while the David Brown four-speed gearbox could be supplemented with the option of a Laycock de Normanville overdrive.
So the MkIII brought the DB2/4 up to date, and in fact it would stay in production well into 1959, overlapping with the DB4 by several months. There were drop-head and fixed-head coupé versions, but the vast majority of the 550-odd built were saloons (or, rather, hatchbacks) like the one pictured here.

Performance and specs

Engine In-line 6-cylinder, 2922cc 
Power 162bhp @ 5500rpm (180bhp in Special Series tune) 
Torque 180lb ft @ 4000rpm 
Transmission Four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive 
0-60mph 9.3sec 
Top speed 120mph

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2515mm
Length 4356mm
Width 1651mm
Height 1360mm
Weight 1300kg (est)

Common problems

• Whereas, from DB4 onwards, Aston Martin adopted a platform-type chassis, the MkIII still retained an old-style ladder-type chassis in hefty square-section steel. The outer body is all aluminium, the rear section forming a virtual monocoque that’s bolted to the chassis. 
• The biggest challenge for the restorer is the huge ‘clamshell’ bonnet. It’s quite a complex assembly, and because the chassis are hand-made and quite variable, a lot of shimming and general jiggery pokery goes on to get it to shut cleanly with nice, even gaps. 
• The LB6 engine has shown two major weaknesses over the years. Cylinder head gasket sealing can be problematic – it’s a wet-liner engine and over time the liner seals tend to deteriorate. 
• Then there are the ‘cheeses’ – the four circular pieces of cast aluminium that carry the crankshaft main bearings in the block. The aluminum distorts with heat, and the oil tubes that locate the cheeses in the block leak, causing a loss of oil pressure. 
• The good news is that a number of specialists, including Four Ashes, Rex Woodgate and Aston Engineering, have developed fixes over the years, and with suitable upgrades both the LB6 engine and DB gearbox are generally reliable today, more than capable of standing up to the enthusiastic driving for which the Feltham cars were conceived. 
• A number of other, modern enhancements are also available – electric power steering takes the sweat out of low-speed manoeuvres, a modern alternator can be fitted within the old dynamo body to boost the electrics, a high-capacity radiator reduces the danger of overheating, and for high-speed cruising an overdrive conversion is available for cars that didn’t have it from new (though in fact most MkIIIs did).

Owners clubs, forums and websites

www.amoc.org Aston Martin Owners Club and forum
www.amocna.orgNorth American-based owners club

Summary and prices

If you are drawn to the MkIII, what do you need to know? Well, prices for tidy, driveable saloons start at around £150,000, while a really good, original car – or a properly restored one – is now £250,000 and upwards, with the very best fetching over £300,000, though that’s still only half of what a DB4 or 5 in the same condition might command.
A cosmetic ‘restoration’ should put you on your guard. As Nigel Woodward, manager of Heritage Operations at Works, explains, a full body restoration is a painstaking process, with many differences between individual cars, and a mixture of steel, aluminium and even wood being used in their construction. ‘It’s very much a traditional, coachbuilt car,’ says Nigel. ‘In fact, when you close the door it should sound rather like closing the door of a railway carriage!’ 
Most of the top specialists charge £200,000 and upwards (Works considerably upwards) for a full restoration, which is why it pays to have any prospective purchase thoroughly inspected.
Words: Peter Tomalin/Vantage magazine
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Last updated: 20th Sep 2016
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Aston Martin DB MkIII cars for sale

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Aston Martin DB MkIII
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  • Aston Martin DB MkIII


    Aston Martin DB Mk 3 (1958) Right Hand Drive: UK Supplied: Original Registration Number Chassis Number: AM300/3/1433: Engine Number: DBA1059 One of 462 Produced: The DB 2/4 Mk III (normally known as the Mk III, even at the time of its introduction) was a sports car hand-built and sold by Aston Martin from 1957 through to 1959. It was an evolution of the DB2/4 Mk II and retained the earlier car’s W.O. Bentley-designed, Lagonda 2.9L straight-6 engine, redesigned by Tadek Marek. Changes included a grill similar to the company’s racing DB3S, a new instrument panel, and for the first time ever on an Aston, disc brakes. The hydraulically operated clutch was new as well, and an optional Laycock-de Normanville overdrive, attached to the 4-speed gearbox became standard after the first 100 cars. Worm-and-sector steering and a live axle rear end were also carried forward from previous models. The standard DBA engine model with twin SU carburettors produced 162hp, though an optional dual-exhaust system (a claimed 16 bhp increase) raised this to a reputed 178hp. Thus equipped, the car could reach 60 mph in 9.3 seconds and hit 120 mph. We are delighted to be able to offer this exquisite DB 2/4 Mk III for the first time since it was purchased by the current family custodians over 56 years ago. The first owner was a Mr W. Griffith from Somerset, who owned chassis number AM300/3/1433 until 1960, when he placed an advert in the local newspaper. Mr Marcus Green, a long-standing member of the Aston Martin Owner’s Club, saw the advert and immediately arranged a viewing. A deal was struck and Mr Green bought the car, which is still in his garage today. In 2003, the car was inherited by Mr Green’s son in law, himself a skilled mechanical engineer, who set about restoring the Aston to its former glory. The restoration was a complete body-off nut and bolt rebuild that took place over 2-3 years and significant time and effort was put into ensuring the shut lines were better than when new. The original engine was rebuilt and the interior trimmed to a high specification. The car today is reading a mere 67,000 miles from new and still presents beautifully with dark blue paintwork that retains an excellent shine. In addition, original tools can be found under the bonnet along with the chassis plate and many other original components. Upon Hexagon Classics acquisition a re-trim was carried out in manufacture’s colour option of Connolly Bros Vaumol VM3393 Grey and a re-trim of all carpeting, also in grey. Our post sale services will include a fresh service and safety related checks which will be completed by Aston Martin marque specialists. It is now time for this Aston Martin to find a new keeper who will hopefully preserve it for many future generations to come. Available for inspection at our central London showrooms.

    • Year: 1958
    For sale
    Hexagon Classics
    02083485151 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Aston Martin 1 1/2 Litre Le Mans

    €635,000(£566,166) €635,000(£566,166)

    Year of construction 1932 color black leather red original unrestored body Extensive restoration by Bertelli Mille Miglia egigiable retaining the originality and old scuffy look bought new in 1932 by Basil Dean very early example of the second series Le Mans price 635.000,- EUR

    • Year: 1932
    For sale
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