Aston Martin DB MkIII : a chrome strip as a start of an historical point of view...
Note :  all photos are clickable to see them in a much larger size.
           all photos have a 'source' given. Please have a look at my bibliography to decode.

The Aston Martin DB MkIII is the last of the Feltham era. It's also the last evolution based on the DB2 body.

As the last of  the 50s, it also means it is the last of the sportscar type which were meant to accelerate on small, twisty roads.
In the 60s, motorways appear (of course they already existed in the US) and the sportscar evolved in the GT (Grand Tourer).
This will come with the DB4, start of a new era... even if the DB4 appeared in October 1958 and the DB MkIII was produced up to July 1959 !
This was partly because the DB4 had not yet a convertible derivative but nevertheless customers had to wait 1961 for the DB4 Convertible. Only partly because, even at the end of the production of the DB MkIII, saloons were still produced. FHCs also came at the end. It is sometimes said this was because DHCs were slow sellers (FHCs were made using DHC body)

I. Before the DB MkIII

Remember : in 1948 there was the Two Litre Sports model with a 4 cylinder engine.
After this, in 1950, the magnificent DB2 (the
Two Litre Sports was then called DB1) appeared with the superb 6 cylinder which came from Lagonda (David Brown bought Lagonda especially for this !).
At first, it featured a superb three-piece chrome grille but after the fiftieth, and for cost reason, it was decided to blend the three parts in the bonnet. The resulting shape looks like an inverted T.
411 DB2s were built but it had to evolve because it only had two seats and no boot for luggage.

In 1953, it became the DB2/4. 2/4 stands for 2/4 seater and in some 50s litterature you can find DB2-4.
Big news were small rear seats, described as "lavatory seats" by Harold BEACH himself who also found that it was a "marketing error" to have restricted the DB2 to two seats (SOURCE
PBAM). The rear seats could be folded flat and there was also a hatch making the DB2/4 a shooting brake long before the DB5 conversion. It was one of the earliest uses of a hatch on a car.
The DB2/4 also featured heavier bumpers (read real bumpers as the DB2 only had a strip on the body...).
565 DB2/4s were built.

In 1955, further refinements were made. The new model was called the DB2/4 MkII and was produced up to August 1957.
The roof was raised at the front making a less bulbous profile especially with new rear taillights making small fins.
As the windscreen was the same than on the DB2/4, there was a small sheet between it and the roof which received a chrome strip. This strip extended along the whole body and could be used for a two-tone paintwork which was available on order.
In fact, there were many improvements : more powerful engines appeared, there was a flyoff handbrake instead of the umbrella affair.
Also the bonnet didn't include the front wings any more. Thus it was lighter and not as prone to move as the car ran... It was also much easier to align with the rest of the body and kept the good engine accessibility.
The DB2/4 MkII is not really liked by some Aston fans because it features too much chrome, is somewhat "fussy". But it can be considered as the most developed of the "inverted T grilles" Feltham cars and is also quite rare as only 199 were produced.


         A DB2/4 MkII. Note raised roof with chrome strip. (source VOL1)
    Behind is a DB2/4 with open bonnet : the whole thing comes with the fenders,
    no more to be seen on the MkII and the MkIII.

II. Enters the DB MkIII...

In March 1957 appeared a new version (note that DB2/4 MkIIs were still produced along up to August 1957...).
The engine was completely redesigned by Tadek Marek and could be ordered with many tune versions. I will write about this later in a future page.

This new evolution of the DB2 design had a totally different look, the front being revamped in the style of the production DB3S.
This is a very important change as this design was to give the Aston Martin style trademark for the years to come. Indeed it slowly evolved and can still be found in today Aston Martins.

          DB3S/119 : one of the three production FHC DB3Ss              AM300/3/1830 : one of the five FHC DB MkIIIs
                                      (source HAR)                                                                   (source GUIDEF)

On the right picture of the white DB MkIII you can clearly see how the bonnet is now separate from front wings and that the wings are angled, maybe to evacuate heat from front brakes and / or engine.

Below, a nice photo : a nice Feltham line-up.
From left to right : DB MkIII (IIIB), DB2/4 and DB2/4 MkII (it lacks a DB2 and a IIIA...).
Note how the DB2/4 hatch is much more bulbous. And how it is flat at front when compared with the DB2/4 MkII.

  (source the ever excellent

On the DB MkIII, the windscreen was extended higher on the body so the chrome strip above it was no longer necessary and single colour was now the norm. Nevertheless several DB MkIIIs received a simpler chrome strip around the tail that could be used for two-tone paintwork.
Here is a nice DB2/4 MkII in two colours ...
                                                                            (source FRO)

... and a DB MkIII in two colours. Note different colour separation schemes.

          (sources : Auto Collections here among the sold cars and here more precisely and also

                           (source PBAM)                                                 They can even be found in a French barn...
                                                                                           (source Thoroughbred & Classic Cars, November 1990)

Dual colours was a fad in the 50s but when the DB MkIII appeared I think it was no more 'all the rage' especially on a sports car. Nevertheless, several were painted that way, even in the 60s.
Please have a look at my page about two tones Astons...

Here is a single coloured DB MkIII but with the chrome strip !

                                      (Motor Trend test,
source 48-59)

Here is a zoom with heavy contrast. You can also see the strip by clicking above photos.


INSIDE, the dashboard that appeared with the DB2 and was kept up to the DB2/4 MkII was changed.
For the DB MkIII, everything was now under view.

On the DB2 you had a wood plate attached to leathered dashboard whereas the DB2/4 (and thus on the DB2/4 MkII) featured a 'three part' dashboard with rectangular centre wood plate :

                      (source : a French forum)                     (AM300/1120, a DB2/4 MkII for sale             
Autoport Designs Inc)

                                        The new dashboard of the DB MkIII

Ironically it was at a time when LHD was becoming more and more important in the Aston Martin production that the factory made a change for a dashboard which needed different pressings : one for LHD and one for RHD. Indeed one must remember that in the first part of the 50s, many English cars were sold with RHD even for export (with the exception of the USA). In Europe, it was still common to associate prestige and RHD. French prestige automakers for example only produced RHD cars before the war.
It's also important to note that this dashboard design was used up to the DB6 Mk2, that is late 1970.

To sum up, the DB MkIII is a starting point in Aston Martin style, both inside and outside.
This is surely for that reason that many Aston fans prefer the DB MkIII to its predecessors.  The fact it was the final evolution (thus the most updated and the most powerful IF you got the right engine option...) is also important even if there are complains because its engine is somewhat more fragile. Indeed it is more tuned and its casting is of a lesser quality.

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