Dep-O Magazine

First Production Aston Martin DB2 For Sale

The first production Aston Martin DB2 is up for sale. The DB2 is one of the first of 49 ‘washboard’ cars — so called because of their front wing vents — was used by David Brown prior to being sold and it was the first Aston Martin to race at the Sebring 12 Hours.

First Production Aston Martin DB2 For SaleLML/50/11, is offered as a project for the sum of £250,000. Please note that this lot is sold on a Bill of Sale by RM Sotheby’s.

Chassis LML/50/11, which is recognised by the Aston Martin Owners’ Club as the first production DB2 (and also, technically, the first Aston Martin DB) is one of just seven such DB2s built in 1950.

The first 10 examples of the DB2 produced during 1949 and 1950 all served as either prototypes, factory team cars, or press cars, with chassis LML/50/8 achieving a class win and 5th overall at the 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans, beaten only by cars with considerably larger engines.

First Production Aston Martin DB2 For Sale

Originally delivered with features seen on the earlier Works cars, such as twin-fuel fillers, Perspex rear window and ribbed-metal sill stripes. In addition to these features, LML/50/11 was the first DB2 to have a small bonnet scoop near to the windscreen.

Ordered new by George Schrafft, a successful car dealer from Palm Beach and amateur racing driver who later competed at Le Mans, he first placed the order over a handshake while on holiday in Cannes and following a chance meeting with David Brown, who was coincidently putting development miles on one of the prototype DB2s. It is claimed that David Brown used LML/50/11 on trade plates as his Drophead Coupé prototype (LML/50/10) was not ready, prior to its import into the U.S.A. via famed European sports car dealer, Max Hoffman. Schrafft used LML/50/11 for a short while before it was sold to David Hirsch of Miami Beach. This DB2 was originally built in Black over Grey upholstery, but by the time it passed to Hirsch, it was two-tone Dark Blue with a Silver roof.

First Production Aston Martin DB2 For Sale

Hirsch was an amateur racing driver, who with his friend, Bob Gegen, would compete together in races along the East Coast. Sebring may never have existed on any race calendar without Bob Gegen: while flying with his friend Sam Collier (of the family that would later amass one of the great car collections), the pair saw an airstrip and landed to enquire over the possibility of running some cars in competition along the runway. Collier was tragically killed shortly afterwards in 1950, but the idea was born and the 12 Hours of Sebring is now one of America’s most important races.

Rather fittingly, Hirsch and Gegen’s debut race with LML/50/11 was the first edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring on 15 March 1952. In the Motorsport Magazine race report, the Hirsch/Gegen partnership was marked out as ‘the great pre-race favourite’, perhaps on the basis of the DB2’s performance at Le Mans. Unfortunately, the infamously bumpy surface caused a rear shock absorber mount to fail on the 29th lap, taking this DB2 out of the race after three hours.

First Production Aston Martin DB2 For Sale

Undimmed by Sebring, Gegen next raced this DB2 at the 100-mile SCCA Bridgehampton Sport Car Road Race in May; Gegen had better luck, finishing the now-painted-red DB2 in 18th place, 5th in class. It was Hirsch’s turn next at the Convair Trophy Race, Allentown, in early August, and one final race was entered by Gegen, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix; the race was stopped after a tragic accident between an Allard and some spectators.

The pace of development for sports cars was relentless and having witnessed the speed of Max Hoffman’s new Jaguar C-type, it was obvious to Hirsch that he needed to upgrade to have any chance of competing with Cunningham’s increasingly quick C4-R. LML/50/11’s racing career was over, but it had participated in the birth of one of America’s great races and witnessed the end of unprotected road racing at Watkins Glen. Hirsch and Gegen’s decision to switch to a C-type was vindicated when they finished 4th at the 1953 12 Hours of Sebring. Despite progressing his racing ambitions, Hirsch is known to have kept his DB2 until at least 1959.

First Production Aston Martin DB2 For Sale

By 1971, this DB2 was with Terry Bennett of Chelsea, Massachusetts. Prior to this time, the engine and gearbox had been replaced with an early post-war Jaguar unit with an automatic gearbox. Ownership passed to John Walsh, of Wellesley, Massachusetts in 1973 and he would keep LML/50/11 for a decade. A further two short-term owners on the East Coast housed the car before it was imported back to the U.K. by Tom Barnard, with the dream of restoring this significant DB2. Barnard was regarded as one of the experts on early “washboard” DB2s—so named because of the three-piece front grille and large vents behind the front wheels—but the project faltered over 20 years. In 2010, this DB2 passed into the hands of the current owner who has completed various works on the car.

During Aston Martin’s fabled 109-year history, it is widely acknowledged that its greatest period is during David Brown’s ownership. The effects of his vision for the marque are still evident throughout the company’s products today; his initials identify many model names, the 2+2 layout–starting with the DB2/4–is a signature of the brand, and the famous grille shape is used in most Aston Martins.

First Production Aston Martin DB2 For Sale

In addition to its road car line-up, Aston Martin enjoyed its greatest motorsport success with the DBR1 that won the 1959 World Sportscar Championship, and later DP cars running wheel-to-wheel with the likes of the Ferrari GTO and Shelby Cobra. The true origins of all of David Brown’s success with Aston Martin was the DB2.

As it stands today, this DB2 has been on a chassis jig, areas of corrosion have been addressed and the body is nearly ready for priming and painting. The car comes with all of its brightwork, retrimmed seats, rebuilt brakes, a correct DB2 engine, gearbox and differential (all of which have been rebuilt), and many other parts of the car remain ready to be reassembled together so that this significant and historic Aston Martin can return to working life. An extensive history file accompanies the car with countless invoices for work and parts. This DB2 could be prepared as a perfect events car for competing at major historic racing events such as Le Mans Classic, Goodwood, Motor Racing Legends’ Woodcote Trophy, Modena Cento Ore, Tour Auto and the Mille Miglia. Likewise, it can be restored to exactly how it left the factory, as the first production DB2.

It is unlikely that an Aston Martin project with as significant a history as this will come to the market any time soon, and it is entirely up to the next owner to write the future chapters of this wonderful DB2’s story.

Leave a comment