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Lot 219: Aston Martin DB2 Vantage Drophead Coupé

Aston Martin and Lagonda Motor Cars, Bonhams (19 May 2012)

LML/50/97' is one of three DB2s despatched in chassis form to Switzerland for bodying by Carrosserie Graber and is the only known survivor. Hermann Graber's elegant designs were always executed to the very highest standards and his creations were necessarily expensive, costing far more than those of his British contemporaries. The car was sold new in April 1952 to Eugen Steinmann in Zürich, the AMOC Register recording him as still the owner in 1954 and the registration number as 'ZH 18647'. There is a Graber-bodied DB2 pictured in the Aston Martin Owner's Journal (Volume 3, Spring/Summer 1952) which may be this actual car. The accompanying copy build sheet states that the engine was converted to Vantage specification by 'Stierli' in October 1952, this being a reference to Garage Stierli of Zürich, specialists in prestige makes. The current owner purchased the DB2 from an auction in Ebury Street, London circa 1977. He was entranced by the exquisite coachwork and had to buy the car, which was said to have been stored in a barn in Switzerland for ten or so years. The Aston was complete but in 'barn find' condition, dilapidated and sad looking, its colour changed to an unattractive ice blue metallic and the original grey leather upholstery covered with black vinyl. Fortunately all the original leatherwork was in situ and intact, which enabled exact copies to be made during restoration. The engine was intact but ran poorly. Initially, the Aston was stored in a barn at the vendor's home (for around ten years) until he was in a position to consider a complete body-off restoration. Martin Rainer and Keith Martin of Central Auto Repairs at Cranfield were chosen to carry out the work while the engine was removed and taken to Four Ash's Garage at Pathlow for reconditioning under the care of Jack Moss. A reconditioned crankshaft and new cylinder liners and rings were among the items fitted. The entire car was dismantled by Central Auto Repairs and immaculately restored over a four-year period. The body structure combines hand-formed steel and aluminium panels on an ash sub-frame. Several of the ash struts were in poor condition and were replaced. Returned from Four Ashes, the engine was reinstalled by Central Auto Repairs together with the mechanicals and electrics. The paint selected was Alpine Green cellulose. New wire wheels were made and the brightwork re-chromed. In early 1992 the car was re-commissioned in concours condition at a cost of around £150,000 in time for the Aston Martin Owner's Club Silverstone meeting celebrating 40 years of the DB2. The 'Graber' was placed seventh in the cavalcade and completed three laps of the circuit, attracting considerable interest. After the cavalcade, the car was entered for the novice concours class and gained 1st prize. Since then, it has been in regular use and has covered around 10,000 kilometres. The DB2 created such interest that the owner was approached by Palawan Press who wished to include it their definitive book, 'Aston Martin - The Complete Car". The Graber is featured on page 79. In 2011 the Aston was taken back to Four Ashes Garage at Pathlow to update the engine to 'unleaded' specification and attend to various faults. Carried out by Chris Adams and his skilled mechanics, the work included upgrading to engine to 1952 'works' specification, increasing the size of the valves and replacing the frequently troublesome rear main bearing with a modern item. Other works undertaken included overhauling the oil pump; brakes and suspension maintenance; fitting new gearbox and engine mountings; modifying the flywheel to accept a new stronger clutch; installing a modern Jaguar thermostat; fitting new cylinder head studs and all new engine gaskets; re-coring radiator; fitting new track rod ends; tidying the paintwork and a myriad of other items. This work cost around £20,000 and we are advised that the engine is now producing circa 140bhp. All bills are available. Kept in a heated and dehumidified garage, the Aston is now in excellent condition, MoT'd and fully roadworthy. The bodywork is considerably lighter than that of the factory DB2 drophead, endowing the Graber car with a superior power-to-weight ratio. Hermann Graber's design features a split windscreen, a tonneau for the rear seats and a distinctive radiator grille. Two discreet spotlights have been added and the lighting is now excellent for night driving. The brakes are superb courtesy of power assistance fitted by Graber and we are advised that the DB2 now drives exceptionally well and is a joy to handle. Of stunning appearance whether open or closed, this is one of the most elegant of Aston Martins and represents Hermann Graber at his very best. Eligible for a wide variety of historic events including the Mille Miglia, Goodwood Revival and, of course, those of the AMOC, this rare, coachbuilt DB2 drophead affords the prospect of an exhilarating motoring experience for the fortunate new owner.

Lot Details
Auction Aston Martin and Lagonda Motor Cars
Bonhams, Newport Pagnell, Aston Martin Works Service
TypeCar
Lot Number219
Estimate£260000-£300000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£240000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£270300
Year1952
Condition rating1
Registration numberDSV 215
Mileage-
Chassis numberLML/50/97
Engine numberLB6B/50/531
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2