1953 DB3S 1956 DB3S

1952 Aston Martin DB3

Shortly after becoming Aston Martin's new owner, David Brown hired Robert Eberan von Eberhorst, the individual who had designed the Auto Union Type D Grand Prix car. Near the close of 1950, development of the new DB3 model began. The ambitious goal was to build a machine that could contest the world's greatest races.

Von Eberhorst's design called for a conventional ladder frame chassis with rigidity coming from the cross-bracing design. Torsion bars and Armstrong dampers were at all four corners with a trailing links setup in the front and DeDion axle in the back. A lightweight aluminum body covered the straight-six 2.6-liter engine. In the front was a large egg-crate grille that had become a hallmark of the Aston Martin design.

The DB3 made its racing debut In September of 1951 at the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod. Mr. Brown had hoped its introduction would be at the 1951 24 Hours of LeMans, but this ambitious goal was not obtainable. Instead, two DB2 models were prepared. One of these two lightweight examples was given the engine built for the DB3, and managed to finish third and claim a class victory.

Lance Macklin drove the DB3 on its maiden voyage and was running as high as fifth before it was forced to retire due to engine problems.

The DB3 was tested, modified, and properly prepared over the winter in hopes of a very successful 1952 season. Three more cars were built while the prototype example was given a fixed head body in preparation for Le Mans.

Three Aston Martin DB3 models were entered at the first race of the 1952 season, at Silverstone. They finished second, third and fourth behind a Jaguar C-Type driven by Stirling Moss. The DB3's had proven they were capable, but the engine was lacking power compared the C-Type. Jaguar engineers began work on a solution. The result was a three-liter version. Unfortunately, even with the larger engine, the DB3 would not earn the company the victories they sought. At LeMans, all three cars retired. It was late in the season - August - before the DB3 scored its first major victory. Piloted by Peter Collins and Pat Griffith, the DB3 earned its first win at the Goodwood 9 hour race.

For the 1953 season, the team hoped to field a DB3 replacement - the DB3S. It was not ready by the season opener, so Aston Martin continued to race the DB3. It scored a second place finish and class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

In total, Aston Martin produced ten examples of the DB3. There were four factory works cars, five customer cars, and one road car built for David Brown. (2 examples were built in 1951, 3 in 1952, and 5 in 1953).

By Daniel Vaughan | May 2012

Vehicle Profiles

Sport Roadster

Chassis Num: DB3/6

Chassis number DB3/6 was the first customer car and was sold new to Robert Dickson. The car was used in races and local hillclimbs. It was given a fixed head body with gull-wing doors in 1954 and years later, was given a Jaguar C-Type engine. Since t....[continue reading]

Sport Roadster

Chassis Num: DB3/2

Chassis number DB3/2 was originally used by David Brown as a registered road-going vehicle. In 1953, it was used as a Works car at Silverstone and continued its racing career at other minor events until 1956.....[continue reading]

Sport Roadster

Chassis Num: DB3/5

This Aston Martin DB3 is the fifth of five Aston works cars among the ten DB3s built. The 2.6-liter DB3 made its racing debut in September 1951 in the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod. In May 1952 the DB3s placed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at Silverstone behind Asto....[continue reading]

Sport Roadster
Chassis #: DB3/6 
Sport Roadster
Chassis #: DB3/2 
Sport Roadster
Chassis #: DB3/5 


The DB3 was not as successful as Aston Martin had intended so they tasked Watson to design and engineer a new car. The result was the DB3S, a design that was based on its predecessor but featured a smaller wheelbase and a lighter chassis. The DB3S were built in two series, the first being numbered one through ten, from 1953 through 1956, and built primarily for the works team. The second series was produced from 1954 through 1956. The coupe bodies benefited from a lower drag coefficient which resulted in greater top speeds, unfortunately, there was excessive lift causing the vehicles to become very unstable at speed. The designs and mechanics were changed throughout the years to compensate for aerodynamic and performance limitations.

During its production run, lasting from 1953 through 1957, 31 examples were produced. Eleven were used by the factory for their racing endeavors.

The DB3s were campaigned by Aston Martin at many international racing events where it was met with mixed results, some victories and some disappointments. Arguably the most prestigious and challenging race, the grueling 24 Hour of LeMans, is a true test of a vehicles capabilities. The DB3S was entered in 1953 where it failed to achieve the success it had accumulated throughout the season.

In 1954, two 225 horsepower coupe versions of the DB3S were created to compete at Silversone. More power was needed, especially to be competitive at LeMans. By applying a supercharger, the car developed 240 horsepower. It was entered in LeMans but it was a Ferrari that would capture the overall victory. Due to the high speed and instability of the design, the DB3S coupes crashed.

In 1955 the coupes were rebodied as open cars. The DB3S captured victory at Silverstone and a second place finish at LeMans. In 1956, the DB3S repeated its prior year performance at LeMans, finishing with a second place.

Through design, development, and testing, the DB3S was able to achieve higher success than the DB3. Though never capturing an overall victory at LeMans, they were able to capture many prestigious victories and successes.

By Daniel Vaughan | May 2012
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