Aston Martin Cars 1915 – 1972

The company was founded in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. The company name was derived from the fact that Lionel Martin raced specials at the Aston Clinton hill climb.

Their first car was built in 1915 and was referred to as the Coal Scuttle.

More cars were not built until 1920.

Three more prototype cars were built, chassis number A3 was the third Aston Martin ever built and is the oldest in existence with a 1.5 litre 11 hp four cylinder side valve. In 1923 it was able to lap Brooklands at 84.5 mph.

Two Grand Prix Team cars (TT1 and TT2) were built for Count Zborowski to compete in the 1922 Isle of Man TT (although they were not ready in time) Originally featuring a engine with twin camshafts and 16 valves, the cars were then fitted with the Benson Twin Cam engines. This was designed by The Hon. John Benson as a new power unit for the cars just before Bamford and Martin called in the receivers in 1925. A total of approx 61 cars were built during this era, insufficient to save the company.

1929, The Aston Martin International was another successful racer and was followed by the Le Mans and the Ulster.

1936, The company which was now owned by Sir Arthur Sutherland, decided to concentrate on road cars.

The advent of World War II halted work, and the company languished throughout the war’s duration.

1947, David Brown Ltd bought Aston Martin and Lagonda which resulted in the initials DB being used for the new models.

1948 – 1950, Aston Martin DB1.

Only 14 of these handsome convertibles were ever produced. Retrospectively known as the DB1

This Two Litre Sports was powered by a 1970cc, pushrod four cylinder engine, producing 90bhp. The car had independent front suspension and featured spare wheel compartments in the front wings. This attractive sports car was replaced in 1950 by the more successful DB2

1950 – 1953, DB2.

The first series of cars to be sold with the famous “DB” initials. The car was powered by the Twin-cam, W.O. Bentley designed Lagonda engine, developing 116bhp in standard form and 125bhp in “Vantage” guise.

A distinctive design offered in both two seater Coupe and Drophead Coupe form. Only 411 cars produced in total.

T

he Aston Martin DB3 and later DB3S were racing cars, although, they used some DB2 parts, they were quite different, being designed especially for racing.

1951 – 1953, DB3.

The DB3 was introduced with a 133 hp 2.6 L straight six engine, from the DB2 Vantage. A larger 2.9 L engine, producing 163 hp (122 kW), was introduced in 1952.

1953 – 1957, DB3S.

The DB3S was a lighter version of the DB3, two coupe versions were built.The DB3S was replaced in 1956 by the famed racing DBR1.

1957 – 1959, DB Mark III.

This was an evolution of the DB2/4 model it replaced, using the same 2.9 L (2922 cc) engine. Changes included a grille like that on the DB3S, a new instrument panel, and available Girling disc brakes. A hydraulic clutch was new as well, and optional overdrive or automatic transmission were available. Engine output was 162 hp, though an optional dual-exhaust system raised this to 178 hp. The regular car could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.3 seconds and hit 120 mph (193 km/h).

1958 – 1963, DB4.

Featured elegant coachwork designed by Touring of Milan, Italy. The handmade, aluminum bodywork panels were mounted on a steel tube frame, using the Superleggera (meaning: super light) method of construction. All round disc brakes fitted, made first by Dunlop and later on by Girling.

There were five series of the DB4, each series introduced changes and improvements to the original series one cars. Early cars have a mesh grille and simpler bumper design. Later cars are longer and consequently heavier than early cars, some late series five cars had DB5 style headlamp covers.

All DB4s were powered by a new six cylinder, all aluminum, 3670cc engine designed by Tadek Mereck, developing around 240bhp.

The DB4 offered excellent performance for the time, 140mph top speed and 0-60 in 8.5 seconds. Overdrive transmission on most cars, the gearbox was produced by Astons’ owner, David Brown. A Vantage engine was also available, offering even higher power outputs.

1963 – 1965, DB5.

A total of 1021 cars were built. The bodywork is similar to the series five DB4 Saloons, although due to extra equipment the weight had risen dramatically.

The straight six, Tadek Mereck designed engine now displaced some 3995cc. All but the first DB5s had a new ZF five speed gearbox and other luxuries such as adjustable, Selectaride type Armstrong Dampers and electric windows. Standard engined cars had 282bhp, with Vantage engined cars having 314bhp, enough extra power to compensate for the cars heavier kerb weight.

As well as being produced in saloon form the DB5 was also available as a convertible, in a similar style to the DB4 Convertible. A more unusual DB5 derivative was the conversion by coachbuilder Harold Radford, the DB5 Shooting Brake, only 12 cars were produced.

1965 – 1970, DB6.

The DB6 bodywork had a new tail design, offering improved aerodynamics and also had a revised rear 1/4 windows and a higher rear roof line. Options now included power steering (on MK1 cars), air conditioning, automatic transmission, limited slip differential and a 325bhp Vantage engine option.

A convertible body style was also offered, as was the normal Aston tradition, although now called “Volante”, a name still used by the company today. Early (1965-1966) DB6 Volantes had a “short chassis” body, only 37 were produced and are distinguished by a shorter tail. A handful of “Shooting Brakes” were also produced by British coachbuilder Harold Radford.

1967 – 1972, DBS and the DBS V8 Vantage.

The DBS featured an all new body, designed by William Towns (who later designed the AM Lagonda in 1976) which featured a distinctive four headlamp grille and a much squarer, more transatlantic shape than seen before on the other DB cars.

Originally designed to accept an all new V8 engine, unfortunately this was not ready in time for the cars launch, so it had to make do with the tried and tested DB6 engine. Due to the increased weight of the DBS body, performance dropped resulting in a 140mph top speed and a 0-60 time of 8 seconds. The DBS was eventually replaced by the DBS V8, although confusingly a single headlamp car known simply as a Vantage, was also produced alongside the AMV8 but featuring the straight six DBS engine.