Designer: Frank Freeley
Chassis Num: LML/49/4
Engine Num: LB6/49/29
Sold for $1,540,000 at 2017 Gooding & Company
English industrialist David Brown purchased both Aston Martin and Lagonda after World War II, bringing together two great marques under his leadership. Both companies had great success in motorsport prior to World War II, particularly at the 24 Hours of LeMans. This tradition would continue under David Brown's control, when early on he decided to establish a works Aston Martin racing team. After the successful debut of his Two Liter competition car at the 24 Hours of Spa in 1948, Mr. Brown agreed to develop three new Aston Martins (Chassis LMA/49/1, LMA/49/2, and LML/49/3) to contest the first postwar 24 Hours of Le Mans, held in June 1949.
This is one of four DB2 prototypes designed by Frank Feeley and built by Aston Martin that laid the foundations for David Brown's first successful sports car. These four prototypes were manufactured by Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. in Feltham through the winter and spring of 1948–49. The first three DB2s, (registration UMC64, UMC65, and UMC66) were entered at Le Mans in 1949 and UMC65 finished 7th overall. This production prototype is the 4th chassis built at the Feltham factory.
The new Aston Martin competition car, referred to in factory records as the DB Mk II, was based on the earlier DB1's box-section, tube-frame chassis. It did, however, had a wheelbase that was 9-inches shorter than its predecessor. Much of the independent front suspension arrangement still owed much to Claude Hill's prewar Atom, with the rear featuring a new coil spring setup. The first two DB Mk II chassis were equipped with the old two-liter pushrod engine. The third and fourth chassis were given an all-new 2.6-liter twin-overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine. The LB6 engine was developed by Willie Watson for Lagonda in 1943, and often attributed to W.O. Bentley, who then served as Lagonda's chief engineer.
The coachwork was penned by Frank Feeley, of prewar Lagonda fame, and constructed from aluminum panels. It was modern, purposeful, aggressive, and streamlined. The lightweight coachwork, aerodynamic design, and potent engine helped the cars achieve nearly 120 mph flat out in early testing.
All four of the DB Mk IIs were registered on April 26, 1949. The three Aston Martin works racing cars, registered UMC 64 through UMC 66, were all identically finished in Almond Green paint with green canvas upholstery. UMC 272 (LML/49/4) was painted maroon and trimmed with beige leather.
LML/49/4 was used by Aston Martin's owner David Brown as his personal car. On August 20, 1949, David Brown drove his DB Mk II to Silverstone to attend the Daily Express International Trophy. He was not eligible to take part in the sports car races, so works racing driver Lance Macklin was given the car for demonstration laps.
In early 1950, the car was loaned to Laurence Pomeroy, editor of The Motor
, for a comprehensive road test conducted during a Continental tour. Mr. Pomeroy used the car to visit Paris, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest offices at Le Mans, and the Brussels Motor Show before returning it to Feltham. He had covered nearly 1,000 miles over four days.
After the promotional duties had been completed, LML/49/4 returned to Feltham, where it was given several mechanical updates and a new engine, number LB6/49/29. The bodywork was refinished in dark green and the DB MK II was sold to Lance Macklin.
He took it to Italy at the beginning of 1950 to have three new 35 DCO Weber carburetors fitted before driving it in the Coppa Inter-Europa at Monza where he came in second. From Monza, he drove the car to Naples, put it on a ship and crossed to Sicily. It was entered in the 1950 Targa Florio race. Unfortunately he crashed chasing Alberto Ascari in his Ferrari 166 MM and didn't finish.
After the Targa Florio, the car had been intended to run the Mille Miglia. Unfortunately, Macklin and his co-driver John Gordon did not quite make the start, and when they reached Rome, the race had already been running for five or six hours. Hours behind, they still joined the field, still wearing the Targa Florio racing numbers. Despite missing the official start of the race, the DB MK II is recorded as an official Mille Miglia entrant.
After the Mille Miglia, the car returned to Feltham to be repaired. Near the close of the 1950s, it was advertised for sale in the Aston Martin Owners Club magazine. Over the next 15 years, it was in the care of a succession of British owners and participated in several club races. In 1952, the DB Mk II was entered in meetings at Silverstone and Goodwood, and in 1954, John Dalton drove the car to a 1st Place finish at the Notts S.C.C. meeting in Ossington. The following year Mr. Dalton obtained a First in Class in the Shenstone and Buxton Rally.
Peter John Lee of Rickmansworth, England, purchased the DB MK II in 1965 from Bill Monk, who owned both LML/49/4 and one of the original DB3S coupes. Over the next five years, Mr. Lee researched and restored the car. Upon completion, he later displayed it at several AMOC events, including the Aston Martin Le Mans display at the Motor 100 event at Silverstone.
The car remained in Mr. Lee's cars until 1989, when it was auctioned by Christie's in Monaco. In 1992, Simon Draper acquired it. During his ownership, Mr. Draper entrusted LML/49/4 to Aston Martin Works Service in Newport Pagnell, which performed a complete restoration of the car in 1992, returning it to its original condition. It was then put on display at the National Classic Motor Show in Birmingham.
In late 2009, Mr. Draper sold the car to its current caretaker. Since then, it has been shown at Villa d'Este, Pebble Beach, and Windsor Castle. It has participated in several driving events including the Mille Miglia Storica, which it completed without fault.