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Aston Martin DB2: Buying guide and review (1950-1953)

Aston Martin DB2: Buying guide and review (1950-1953) Classic and Performance Car
Aston Martin DB2 Aston Martin DB2 Aston Martin DB2
Taking over from the rather more old-fashioned 2-Litre Sports, the Aston Martin DB2 represented the first of the traditional coupe body shape for the David Brown-owned company. Despite a production run of only 14, the Aston Martin 2-litre Sports – now known as the DB1 – was fundamental to the marque’s future, as its Claude Hill-designed square-tube chassis became the basis of all models until 1958 including the DB2. 
The classic coupé styling that defined the Gran Turismo ethos in the DB2 – first seen in prototype form at Le Mans in 1949 – was penned by Frank Feeley. Thanks to Brown's takeover of Lagonda in 1949, the Aston Martin was fitted with a very advanced 2.6-litre straight-six engine, featuring a double overhead camshaft arrangement as used in Lagondas. Based on a design from William Watson and WO Bentley, the engine was a revelation when compared to the uninspiring pushrod unit fitted to the previous model.
Launched at the 1950 New York Auto Show, the DB2 – with its beautiful aluminium-formed coachwork and innovative forward-folding bonnet – immediately impressed, and a production run of more than 400 of both coupé and drophead amply confirmed the new model’s popularity. Higher performance was available in the Vantage variant, with its raised engine compression ratio and power output of 125bhp.
Some even say that the low weight of the DB2 makes it the much more sporty car than its considerably heavier successors. 

Which one to buy?

A total of 411 DB2 models were built by Aston Martin, with the vast majority of models coming out of the factory as two-door saloons (a total of 309). The remaining examples are mostly drop head coupes, which offer an open-air experience. Five DB2s were sent to Graber of Switzerland for special bodies. Rather than the aluminium body panels of the regular cars, Graber used steel in the production of its convertible models, making them a fair amount heavier than the regular alloy cars. 
All DB2s feel fairly sprightly, but if you want more significant performance then find an example fitted with the higher-compression Vantage-spec engine, which will hit 121mph. If you’re looking to take your DB2 racing, then this is the version you will want to find. As production went on, the DB2 became more luxurious, and focused on comfort rather than outright performance, so take this into consideration when browsing the classifieds. 
Responding to the DB2 issues of cabin space and lack of storage capacity was the DB2/4, nominally a very occasional four-seater but with increased luggage space, an innovative rear hatch and the engine now in Vantage tune. Production figures of 565 in two years, and in Mk2 form a further 199, confirmed the rightness of the approach. But it was the final DB2 flowering in the Mk3 that became the most desirable. It had front disc brakes, optional overdrive, 162bhp on tap – giving a top speed of 117mph – and glorious styling, with handling to match. That meant the price rose to just over £3000 for 550 very fortunate first owners, who included one James Bond in Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger novel.

Performance and specs

Engine 2580cc, straight–six
Power 105bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 125lb ft @ 3100rpm
Top speed 116mph
0-60mph 11.2secs
Fuel consumption approx 20mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2515mm
Length 4128mm
Width 1651mm
Height 1359mm
Weight 1112kg

Common problems

• The engines are very strong, and relatively unstrained in the DB2, and problems are unlikely in a well-maintained example. Check for oil pressure above 50psi when the engine has warmed up.
• Headgaskets are prone to leakage due to liner issues and very fine tolerances. Check for mayonnaise in the oil, showing that oil and water has mixed.
• If the engine requires a rebuild, an expert must do it, as setting up the liners is a very tricky job, while getting parts can be very tricky.
• It is vital that you check the chassis number and engine number against Aston Martin’s official records, as it is not unusual for cars to have received replacement engines in the past. This might affect future values, so be vigilant. 
• The front suspension, an independent coil spring and trailing arm arrangement, requires frequent attention. If neglected, it will require an expensive rebuild.
• Check the condition of the interior. If you’re planning a full restoration, it pays to find a car with a complete interior, and while things like seats and dashboards can usually be repaired, finding spares can be almost impossible. 

Model history 

1949: Three prototype DB2 coupes entered into the Le Mans 24 Hours
April 1950: Production DB2 unveiled to the public
Late 1950: Drophead Coupe version introduced
January 1951: 125bhp Vantage-spec engine introduced
1952: Brake drums widened to improve performance
April 1953: Production of the DB2 ends, as the DB2/4 is introduced

Owners clubs, forums and websites

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

Summary and prices

While the DB2 is the most valuable of all the pre-DB4 standard road cars, it still represents fantastic value when compared against the later models. An above-average two-door saloon is likely to set you back around £250,000. More average examples come in at between £150,000-£200,000. If you’re looking for a restoration project, which is often the best value, you should be looking at something in the £100,000 range. 
As with most Astons, the convertible model is worth considerably more money. The best drophead coupe can cost in excess of £350,000. A restoration project could potentially be picked up from £120,000. Budget around £180,000 for a runner, with an average car fetching upwards of £250,000.
Aston Martin DB2 Aston Martin DB2 Aston Martin DB2
Last updated: 6th Sep 2016
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Aston Martin DB2 cars for sale

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Aston Martin DB2
70600 233000 GBP
  • 2: Just before the Mille Miglia 2017, during a training day of the Houtkamp Collection TEAM


    10/05/2017 – Two weeks before the event we went for a training day to try out the actual cars we were using in the race, and several laps of the training circuit convinced us that we had some truly magnificent sports car under us. Our training days, open to all our customers and rally friends, it prove to be very useful in helping to avoid the disappointment of racking up unwanted penalities on the first day of the rally. To get better acquainted with the most effective techniques or perfect the driving and navigation reflexes in preparation for the tricky regularity rally, allying meter, chronometer and road-book.

    For sale
    The Houtkamp Collection
  • Aston Martin DB2 Works Competition Lightweight


    Mayfair 020 7125 1400 | Maldon 01621 879579 Aston Martin DB2 Works Competition Lightweight This exceptionally important Aston Martin is one of just two lightweight DB2s constructed by the works to contend the 1951 season. XMC76 and its sister car, XMC77, were built at Aston Martin’s Feltham factory, Middlesex in 1951 and designed from the outset to be purebred racing sports cars. Unlike production DB2s, they featured an extensively drilled chassis and employed lighter gauge aluminium in their bodies, which, combined with bucket seats, minimal trim, and selective use of Perspex instead of glass, delivered a weight reduction of almost 20% compared to a road car. Performance was further enhanced by an uprated 2.6 Litre engine with high compression aluminium cylinder head and triple weber carburettors, which delivered a potent 138bhp. XMC76’s competition debut came at the Daily Express International Trophy meeting at Silverstone on May 5th 1951. Against a field packed with XK120s driven by the likes of Stirling Moss, Leslie Johnson and Duncan Hamilton, Parnell managed to bring home the Aston home in 7th place overall and win the 3 Litre class. The next outing, held 6 weeks later on 23r

    • Year: 1951
    For sale
  • 1952 Aston Martin DB2 vantage LHD


    Full Description This beautiful DB2 is one of 309 DB2 Saloons built. It has been treated to a full body off restoration by Steel Wings with no expenses spared and to the highest standards. We are getting close to completion and plan to have the restoration complete by the end of 2017. This is an exciting opportunity to purchase a DB2 that is fully restored and fresh without having to wait years for the job to be completed Interior colors can still be determined by the buyer despite the fact that work on the interior has already started The engine will be fully rebuilt with solid cheeses, new oil pump, valves, springs, pistons, cylinders, bearings, chains, etc. and fully dyno tested The gearbox will be rebuilt with all new syncros, bearings and seals The original rims have been restored and are painted silver

    • Year: 1952
    • Mileage: 33195 mi
    For sale
  • 1953 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage Drophead Coupe


    1953 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage Drophead Coupe s/n LML/50/252, Engine no. VB6B/50/1079 Dark Blue with Dove Grey Leather Interior Aston Martin was poised for success with their new offering, the elegant and powerful DB2. The new W.O. Bentley developed in-line 2.6 liter six cylinder engine featured a twin overhead cam, formerly of Lagonda. David Brown had acquired Lagonda specifically for this engine, and the DB2 was to be the first to greatly benefit from the Lagonda reputation for engineering excellence. The DB2 was not only a technical leap for Aston Martin, it would become a critical GT offering for decades to come. Given Aston Martin’s fledgling status, the DB2 announced their ambitions without hesitation, ready to compete against their only formidable competition, Jaguar. The DB2 achieved success on the racetrack in the 1950 Le Mans race, coming in first and second in the three-liter class. Notable racecar driver Phil Hill purchased A DB2 for his personal use, and Briggs Cunningham became the first to take delivery of the Vantage series DB2, which offered larger SU carburetors and a higher compression ratio, resulting in an increase from 105hp to 125hp as well as 11 second 0-60 t

    • Year: 1953
    • Mileage: 61066 mi
    For sale
  • 1952 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage Drophead Coupe

    $233,000(£183,371) $233,000(£183,371)

    This car is currently not at Fantasy Junction but can be viewed by appointment. 1952 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage Drophead Coupe s/n LML/50/302, Engine no. VB6B/50/1126 Light Blue Metallic with Dark Blue Leather Interior Aston Martin’s first successful postwar car, the DB2 represented significant advancements over the 2-liter sports (also referred to as the DB1). In place of the four cylinder pushrod motor of the 2-liter sports, the DB2 utilized a sophisticated 2.6 liter twin overhead cam inline-6 designed by none other than W.O. Bentley. Bentley originally designed the powerplant for Lagonda, and it was specifically to acquire this engine that David Brown purchased Lagonda in 1947, creating a pairing that is now one of motoring’s legendary names: Aston Martin Lagonda. Brown had also purchased Aston Martin in 1947, and the DB2 was the first result of his vision when he purchased the two companies. The car also laid the groundwork for the series of now legendary DB Astons. The DB2 possessed excellent roadholding and braking ability, and was very much a contender for Britain’s best sports car at the time, with the only credible threat coming from the Jaguar XK120. Indeed, Aston achieved

    • Year: 1952
    • Mileage: 21244 mi
    For sale
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