It was shortly after David Brown bought Aston Martin in 1947 that he would make one of the greatest automotive business decisions to date - a decision that would save Aston from almost certain failure. While initially uninterested in the fading Middlesex-based marque Lagonda, it was an encounter with WO Bentley at the factory that changed his mind. The reason? Bentley's engine, the Lagonda straight-six. What Brown saw was an opportunity. He needed to produce a car that could perform on a global stage in order to change Aston Martin's fate. With Bentley's 2.6L six-cylinder twin cam engine, Brown had his answer - more power without the need for a bigger engine. So, he bought Lagonda and by 1949, put that game-changing straight-six to the test at Le Mans in a tuned chassis and gearbox from Aston Martin's existing. although unsuccessful, two-litre Sport (retrospectively titled the DB1, of which only 15 were sold).
The result was a remarkable vehicle capable of reaching 120mph. A year later it debuted at the New York Auto Show and became the base of the first Aston Martin to feature the DB moniker. Its rise was monumental and on Aston Martin's third attempt at Le Mans in 1962, the DB2 took first, second and third in class. Its racing pedigree, coupled with the Italian-inspired elegance of the Frank Feeley-designed bodywork, meant that even early reviewers claimed the DB2 to be the perfect car.
During its production from 1950 to 1953, just 411 models were built. Yet less than a quarter of those were the Drophead Coupe variant, of which Brown claimed the first as his own personal car. So, it's little surprise that the rarity of the 1952 Drophead Coupe currently undergoing restoration at Aston Martin Works is a topic of much excitement. A team is in the midst of a two-year restoration, a project that will consume upwards of 4,000 man-hours.
Every Aston Martin Works restoration is about painstaking attention to detail, meticulous craftsmanship and unrivalled quality. Based at Aston Martin's iconic former headquarters in Newport Pagnell, Works is able to restore cars in a truly authentic way, with many of the original tools and methods used in their construction. In addition to the skills of the team, a Works Aston Martin is also intended to meet the exacting standards demanded by modern customers. This is a fine line to navigate and one that requires substantial time and patience. After a thorough assessment it was decided that the chassis, engine, gearbox and back axle of the DB2 in question would remain from the original vehicle, with many other components remanufactured.
The Aston Martin Works team has thus far produced noted models such as the DB4 GT Continuation and the "fully loaded" Goldfinger DB5 Continuation, but the restoration of historic models for private clients often includes upgrades such as air conditioning, revised gearboxes and uprated brakes, steering and suspension componentry. But the historical significance of this particular DB2 is of such importance that it will be meticulously restored to its original specification, as per the request of its owner. in this way, the Works team operates in partnership with the owner. They're encouraged to visit the workshop and meet the team, perhaps even getting their hands dirty should they so desire.
This interview is an extract from an article featured in the AM46 issue of Aston Martin magazine, out now. If you're not already a subscriber, visit magazine.astonmartin.com/magazine-subscription so that you can read the full story.