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 financial backing and was an avid racer. Under the patronage of Augustus Caesar Bertelli, the legacy of Aston Martin continued to grow in motorsports throughout the years. Motorsports was expensive and by 1925 the Company had entered into receivership, a trend common to the Company throughout its lifetime.
In 1926 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. Too 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-litre cars enjoyed much success including at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A.C. Bertelli left Aston Martin in 1937 soon after the arrival of the new 2-litre car. This car was a shift in the way the Company did business, as it was less sporty and marketed more towards civilised 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 Martin’s push-rod engines, however, were deemed inadequate by Mr. Brown but 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 2-litre Aston Martins were created based on the Atom design. At the time, they were called 2-litre 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 Le Mans in the post-war era. The production version was show in April of 1950 at the New York Auto Show. It was called the DB2 and powered by a 2.6-litre 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 Coupé as more interest was created by the Works DB2’s, as they scored several important victories including first and second in class at Le Mans in 1950.
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 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 desire and demand. 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.
The DB2/4 was a grand tourer built from 1953 to 1957 and was based on the DB2, which it superseded. Two body styles were offered; the saloon which was essentially a 2+2 hatchback and an open Drophead Coupé. Visually similar to the DB2, changes included a wraparound windscreen, larger bumpers and repositioned headlights.
Italian coachbuilders Carrozzeria Allemano, Bertone and Vignale who were commissioned at special request by private clients also produced a number of special-bodied cars. David Brown had purchased the Lagonda Company a few years earlier, in order to obtain the W.O.Bentley designed double overhead camshaft straight six that he wanted as a replacement for the Claude Hill four cylinder unit. He knew success on the racetrack would benefit sales and used the 2.6-litre six-cylinder unit to power the Works DB2’s, which were campaigned at Le Mans and across Europe throughout the early fifties.
Three Works cars were prepared for the 1955 Monte Carlo Rally and two for the Mille Miglia, but the Company’s focus was on the sports-special DB3 model. The Lagonda engine was essentially the same as 2.6-litre Six, used in the DB2 Vantage that produced 125bhp, but in mid-1954 a 3 litre VB6/J version was produced which saw power increased to 140bhp and gave the DB2/4 a top speed of over 120mph.
A 3-litre car tested by The Motor in 1954 had a top speed of 118.5mph and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 10.5 seconds with fuel consumption of 23 miles per gallon.
This particular car, UWL 333, was the 25th DB2/4 that was produced and was purchased new – first registered in October 1953 – by G. F. H. Parkes who was a British racer best known for bring Jaguar to victory in the 1959 Monte Carlo Rally.
The car spent the remaining part of 1953, and all of 1954, as a road car driven during the day by Bobby Parkes to Preston railway station where he would catch the train to Manchester! In 1955 Bobby decided to stop this and race the car and it subsequently completed ten events, during the season of 1955, and finished each time. It went on to be placed overall first in the LAC Morecombe Rally in May. A comment from Autocar in 1955 was “G.F.H. Parkes and his Aston Martin stood in the lead with only 105.5 marks lost.” Victory was taken with a good margin and in 1955, Bobby brought home no less than five awards. Apparently it has been said that UWL 333 participated in the 1955 Acropolis Rally and was actually driven to and from Athens.
This car has seen a number of owners racing her – a Mr Reed who was the owner for eight years took part in events at Goodwood, Silverstone and Brands Hatch and also a Mr Riley who bought the car in 1984. Between these two owners they competed in a total of 24 races and, each time, the car finished in the top four. UWL 333 took victory in over half of 22 podium finishes, which was wonderful in itself.
A subsequent owner of the car carried on the fine racing reputation and has taken part in 30 events including the Woodcote Trophy and the multiple Le Mans Classic.
The current owner commissioned an engine rebuild by Rex Engineering and successfully took part in the 2015 Mille Miglia.
This car is presented in a fabulous combination of the original colour of Midnight Blue accompanied by a red grill and red wheels.
This is a fabulous opportunity to gain a piece of Aston Martin history albeit in the form of the most successful DB2/4 in existence.
We welcome viewings at our premises here in Suffolk at anytime via an appointment so please do not hesitate to contact us. Overseas visitors are most welcome and can be collected from all London airports with accommodation arranged. Should a classic or competition car be available for part exchange, we would also have no hesitation in sharing details.
Shipping and Delivery
Worldwide delivery of the car can be facilitated with ease. If in mainland Europe, Phil as always will be delighted to deliver the car personally via a covered trailer. Beyond Europe, International shipping can be easily arranged too.