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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
ordered with many tune versions. I will write about this later in a
This new evolution of the DB2 design had a totally different
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.
: one of the three production FHC
AM300/3/1830 : one of the five FHC DB MkIIIs
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
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 AstonMartins.com)
On the DB MkIII, the windscreen was extended higher on the body so the
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 ...
... and a DB MkIII in two colours. Note different colour separation
(sources : Auto Collections here
among the sold cars and here
more precisely and also ConceptCarz.com)
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.
have a look at my page about two tones Astons...
Here is a single coloured DB MkIII but with the chrome
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
(AM300/1120, a DB2/4 MkII for sale
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
its engine is somewhat more fragile. Indeed it is more tuned and its
casting is of a lesser quality.
Aston Martin Scrapbook