'David Brown had a good eye for styling; he even made his tractors look good. He was also one of the few people who could change the shape of the DB2 without detracting from its appearance.' – Chris Harvey, 'Aston Martin and Lagonda'.
With the launch of the '2+2' DB2/4 in October 1953, Aston Martin had extended the DB2's appeal to the hitherto untapped yet increasingly important market comprised of 'sports car enthusiasts with a family'. Modifications to the rear of the chassis plus a reduction in fuel tank capacity from 19 to 17 gallons liberated sufficient space within the existing design for two child-sized occasional rear seats. David Brown's acquisition of Tickford Ltd in 1953 led to bodywork for the revised DB2/4 Mark II being manufactured by the Newport Pagnell coachbuilder.
Mechanically the same as the 'Mark I', the Mark II was identifiable by its subtly altered lines, the most significant change being a ¾"" increase in roof height that afforded greater headroom. In Mark II form the DB2/4 continued to be available as a close-coupled sports saloon or drophead coupé, while for the first time the factory offered an alternative fixed-head coupé, of which only 34 were made, making this derivative one of the rarest of post-war Aston Martins.
Standard specification included the 2.6-litre 'VB6E' engine in 125bhp Vantage tune, but from early in 1954 the 3.0-litre 140bhp 'VB6J' engine was installed, providing 118mph top speed and 60mph in around 11 seconds. This was one of the fastest cars then built in Great Britain - with l00mph achievable in third gear and around 120mph maximum - possessing impeccable handling plus a level of comfort rare in any high-performance car.
It accompanying copy guarantee form shows that left-hand drive chassis number '1185' was sold new via Majestic Automobiles in France to its first owner: Raymond Gallizia of Montbeliard. The colour scheme is recorded as Sea Green (top) with Deep Carriage Green (lower) and red Connolly hide interior, while the only non-standard item listed is Alfin brakes. Additional owners recorded are C Carnaghan of Ashtead, Surrey (1984) and Mr Eckard Sacuss (2003).
The Aston Martin Register notes that this car had its present engine - 3.7-litre DB4 unit - fitted at the Works after two engine failures, but there is no corroborating evidence establishing the date. Neither is there formal evidence that '1185' was retained by the Works for experimental purposes. However, the engine is stamped 'PP/370', suggesting that it is a pre-production unit.
The current vendor purchased '1185' at Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in June 2014 (Lot 385). Painted silver and black at that time, the car was subsequently restored and repainted in its original two-tone green livery by Aston Martin Works, and shortly thereafter was featured in Vantage magazine (Summer 2017 edition). Journalist Andrew Frankel was relieved to learn that '1185' had been fitted with front disc brakes in place of the DB2/4 Mark II's standard drums, making it possible safely to enjoy the greatly enhanced performance. 'Sure, it accelerates like no other Feltham Aston I've driven,' he observed, 'but really it's the mid-range response you notice most.' A copy of the Vantage article is on file, and the car also comes with Aston Martin Works' restoration invoices and a UK V5 registration document.
Concluding his article in Vantage, Andrew Frankel confessed: 'I don't know if this car is the actual missing link between Feltham and (the) Newport Pagnell era. What I do know is that, even if it did turn out to be no more than a curio, that does not make it a less than fascinating Aston or me no less delighted to have made its acquaintance.'