DB2/4 MkII Description
In production: October 1955—August 1957
Chassis numbers: AM300/1101—AM300/1299
The revised model shown at the London Motor Show in October 1955, the DB2/4 Mark II, had the same chassis and mechanical specification as the DB2/4 including the 2,922 c.c. VB6J engine, developing 140 b.h.p. at 5,000 r.p.m. as standard
Mulliners had found that their contracts with the volume market made it difficult for them to produce the few numbers needed by Aston Martin, indeed, as we have seen, they had been contracting out some of the production.
Wishing to bring production back into his direct control, David Brown had bought Tickford, at Newport Pagnell, in 1953 and the bodywork for the Mark II was the first Aston Martin to be made there, though Lagonda bodies had been made there for some time. Up to 1956, the production of the mechanical element of an Aston Martin had been carried out at Farsley, in Yorkshire, with the rolling chassis being bodied elsewhere. In 1956, the whole assembly process was brought under one roof at Newport Pagnell.
The general appearance was unchanged: indeed, the publicity photograph taken in front of a helicopter on London’s South Bank is almost certainly of LML/669, a DB2/4, suitably retouched.
But there were many detail differences: to provide more headroom, the roof was raised by ¾" (1.9 cm), made more obvious by a chrome strip above the windscreen. Other external differences included a raised rear wing line, recently seen on the DB2/4 drophead coupe, which gave the impression of discreet fins (rather more modest than those being insisted upon by other stylists, notably in the United States) when a tail-lamp cluster was located on the rear-most top 'corner'. Turn indicators were of the flashing type, rather than the earlier semaphore indicators
Roughly where the large vents were placed on the early DB2s, two small hinged air vents were inserted.
On the Mark II the rear-most side panels of the hinged bonnet remained fixed below a chrome strip, reducing the weight of the otherwise rather cumbersome bonnet of the DB2 and DB2/4, without appreciably altering the admirably clear access to the engine and front suspension. Small Tickford badges below the chrome strips completed the external changes. The car was 2" (5 cm.) longer than the Mark I and it was higher and heavier.
There were detailed improvements inside the body: the seats have a better shape, there are courtesy switches for the roof lights, and the most un-Aston-like umbrella handle under the dash was replaced by a proper fly-off hand-brake on the floor.
Most of the 199 Mark IIs were saloons, but as well as at least 16 drophead coupés (9 for the home market and 6 for export) an attractive fixed head coupé was also offered; 34 of which were made and of these, 18 were exported
An interesting comment appeared in the motoring press at the time of the 1956 London Motor Show that production would be concentrated on the saloon though, we know, that examples of the drophead and coupé were made.
Of the 4 cars supplied as chassis only, three, one of which was given away as a prize by the Daily Mail, have two-seater (“Spyder”) coachwork made by Touring with their Superleggera system (foreshadowing the later involvement of Touring with the bodywork of the DB4: see A.M.O.C. East, Spring, 1987, p.10 and A.M.O.C. Quarterly (U.S.A.) Spring 1990). These cars were ‘available solely for export’ according to The Motor.
A special series engine, the VB6L and the later VB6L/1 which were said to develop 165 b.h.p., was offered as an alternative. The L cylinder head had larger valves and higher lift camshafts. L/1 heads had even larger valves. High compression pistons, giving 8.6:1, were also offered as an optional extra “for Competition”, along with a larger fuel tank, close- ratio gearbox, racing clutch (9/203) and 40 DCO Webers.
DB2/4 MkII Derivatives
Whilst outwardly similar to the previous DB2/4 model, with the Mark II came many detail changes. The car was first shown at the London Motor Show in 1955 and during production run for only 2 short years with a total of 199 cars were built, a majority were built with saloon coachwork as shown here. Other body styles were the desirable fixed head coupe and the wind-in-the-hair drophead coupes. Initially, the engine was the same as fitted to the later examples of the DB2/4 model (VB6J), but as an optional extra, the Special Series engine (VB6J/...../L or L1) could be fitted. The Special Series engine had 165 bhp on tap which was down to higher compression, the fitting of larger valves and high lift camshafts.
Externally, the roof line was raised and a chrome strip extends from the top of the windscreen wrapping around to above the side windows. An easy way to differentiate the Mark II from the previous DB2/4 is that she side panels of the bonnet remains fixed to the chassis when the bonnet is raised. This was done in the interests of reducing the weight of the opening bonnet and is clearly visible by a chrome strips separating the two pieces of the body. From the rear, a chrome strip extends around the rear of the body below the rear door. With all these chrome strips, it is hardly surprising that a fair few DB2/4 Mark II’s also had fashionable two tone paint finishes.
More noticeable are the vestigial tail fins which were thought as stylish in the 50’s. The tiny bubble type taillights were ‘borrowed’ from the contemporary Hillman Minx.
Since the David Brown Corporation had bought the Tickford Coachbuilding Works in Newport Pagnell during late 1954, the production of the bodies of the DB2/4 Mark II was moved to the historic factory and away from Mulliners in Birmingham who were responsible for the coachwork of the DB2/4. Within a few short years, AML would move completely from Feltham and make it’s new home in the historic Buckinghamshire town.
The DB2/4 Mark II was also available with a drophead coupe body style. Powered as standard by the 140bhp 2992cc VB6J engine; the special series 165bhp unit was available as an option although their is no evidence that any dropheads were fitted with anything other than the regular unit. The DB2/4 Mark II drophead was the first production Aston Martin convertible with 'Tickford' coachwork from the famous Newport Pagnell factory.
Out of the 199 DB2/4 Mark II’s only 15 were built as drophead coupes, which makes is a particularly rare Aston Martin.
With the introduction of the Mark II version of the DB2/4, Aston Martin offered the car with a third body style, the fixedhead coupe also known in some circles as a notchback. This attractive two seater car had very similar accommodation to the drophead but was priced the same as the more versatile three door saloon. As with the other Mark II's, the bodies were made at the famous Tickford coachbuilding works in Newport Pagnell. Although it doesn't appear so, the occasional rear seats is a little more spacious due to a higher roof line During just two years of production only 34 examples were made making them one of the most desirable of all the Astons of the 1950's.