The first Aston Martin was built in 1913 by London Singer dealers Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin. It was comprised of a Coventry Simplex engine and an Isotta Fraschini chassis. They were later joined by Count Louis Zborowski, who provided finical backing and was an avid racer. Under the patronage of Augustus Bertelli, the legacy of Aston Martin continued to grow in motorsports throughout the years. Motorsports were expensive, and by 1925 the company had entered into receivership, a trend common to the company throughout its lifetime.
In 1926 the Aston Martin Motors Ltd. was incorporated with A.C. (Bert) Bertelli as one of the new directors. With the help of Bertelli, the company weathered the run years and the various financial backers. To many, Bertelli is the father of Aston Martin and some of the greatest pre-War era cars were created under his guidance. Their Ulster and 1.5-liter cars enjoyed much success including at the 24 Hours of LeMans.
A.C. Bertelli left Aston Martin in 1937, soon after the arrival of the new 2-liter car. This car was a shift in the way the company did business, as it was less sporty and marketed more towards civilized driving. In 1939 the company introduced a prototype designed by Claude Hill dubbed the Atom. It was comprised of a steel spaceframe chassis and given a four-door sedan body. When gearbox manufacturer David Brown was given the opportunity to drive the Atom in 1947, he decided to buy the company.
The Atom was a slightly odd-looking vehicle but possessed many modern features which would become the starting point for many new models in the years to come. Aston Martins push-rod engines, however, were deemed inadequate by Mr. Brown. Rather than creating a new engine design he simply purchased Lagonda and the rights to produce the W.O. Bentley designed twin-cam six-cylinder engine. This engine would become the basis for Aston Martin engines in the years to come and would give the company many podium finishes.
While negotiations were still in process with Lagonda, a small number of two-liter Aston Martins were created based on the Atom design. At the time, they were called 2-Liter Sports; in modern times they are commonly referred to as the DB1.
A six-cylinder Aston Martin racer made its racing debut at the first 24 Hours of LeMans in the post-War era. The production version was shown in April of 1950 at the New York Auto Show. It was called the DB2 and powered by a 2.6-liter Lagonda six clothed in a two-door coupe body designed by Frank Freely. The design was well received by the public and it appeared as though financial stability would soon become part of the company's lineage. The small factory struggled to keep pace with the demand for the new coupe as more interest was created by the Works DB2s as they scored several important victories including first and second in class at LeMans in 1950.
The first fifty cars created had large grilles that were later removed. In 1951, the Vantage model was introduced which was an upgraded version of the DB2. The DB3 became the company's racing entrant while the DB2 was their road-going model.
The two-seater DB2's first major update came in 1953 when it was given two rear seats and a name change to DB2/4. This, as was the DB2, was available in either fixed or drop head configuration. Several chassis were delivered to custom coachbuilders to be fitted with unique creations orchestrated by customer's desires and demands. Among them were the 'Wacky' Arnolt commissioned Bertone Spiders which were very attractive and equally as popular.
Though meant for the road, the DB2/4 models were used by privateers in many various sporting events with much success. This inspired the Works to prepare three examples for the Rallye Monte Carlo in 1955. Their efforts were rewarded with a first in class and a Team Prize.
Another major revision occurred in 1956 with the introduction of the DB2/4 MKII featuring a three-liter version of the six-cylinder engine producing 140 horsepower. An even more powerful version was available, featuring a high-lift camshaft, larger valves, and 165 horsepower. Coachbuilders were still given the opportunity to create their versions of the car. The most memorable was a Touring created Spyder shown at the 1956 Earls Court show in London. Three additional orders were placed but never materialized. Nevertheless, this would be the start of a relationship between the British based Aston Martin Company and the Touring Coachbuilding firm, resulting in spectacular creations throughout the years.
The fourth and final update to the DB2/4 was the MKIII, also known as the DB MK III, introduced in 1957. The basic design of the prior DB cars was retained, as it had proven to be very popular and versatile. The most noticeable change was to the front which received a revised frontal region. The big changes occurred elsewhere, with the vehicle's mechanical components, including the standard 162 horsepower engine and front disc brakes. Both of these changes greatly improved the vehicle's performance and handling capabilities.
In 1958 the DB2 Series was replaced by the DB4 which were powered by a 3.7-liter version of the six-cylinder engine.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007