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DB2/4 MkII Fixed head Coupe by Tickford
The DB2/4 (often called a DB2/4 Mk1) is a grand tourer sold by Aston Martin from 1953 through 1957. It was based on the DB2 it replaced, available as a Drophead Coupé (DHC) and 2+2 hatchback (known by Aston Martin as a Saloon) well ahead of the times. Other changes included a wraparound windscreen, larger bumpers, and repositioned headlights. A handful of Bertone bodied spiders were commissioned by private buyers.
Stanley Harold Arnolt II, better known as “Wacky”, owned S.H. Arnolt, Inc. in Chicago, one of Aston Martin’s five dealers in the U.S. Arnolt also sold Bentley, Bristol, MG, Morris and Rolls-Royce automobiles. He had done well during World War II with the Waukesha engine company and expanded after the war, adding consumer products to the company’s mix. At the 1952 Turin Auto Salon Wacky Arnolt spotted a pair of MG TDs designed by Giovanni Michelotti and built by Nuccio Bertone’s coachworks. It is said that he immediately ordered 200 and eventually took delivery of 65 coupés and 35 convertibles before MG changed over to the TF chassis.
By then the relationship between the well-heeled and well-connected promoter from the U.S. Midwest and Nuccio Bertone was cemented. Wacky Arnolt joined the board of Bertone. His first project joined Aston Martin’s then-new DB2/4 chassis and drivetrain with Bertone’s coachworks and its visionary designers to create a line of Arnolt Aston Martins. No more than eight would be built as Aston Martin, with its own coachworks at Tickford to keep busy and an expanding relationship with Carrozzeria Touring in Italy, was less than enthusiastic about supplying Wacky Arnolt with chassis to go to Bertone. The Arnolt Aston Martins bodied by Bertone are among the most rare and distinctive of all Aston Martins built.
Arnolt purchased five sequentially numbered Aston Martin DB 2/4 chassis in 1953, and this car, chassis number LML/507, was the last of this batch. While the two even-numbered chassis received “Deluxe” bodywork with bumpers, taller windscreens and more upscale trim, the three odd-numbered chassis, numbered 503, 505 and 507, were fitted with more elemental competition spider bodywork. As completed, however, the result was nothing short of stunning – a lightweight racing roadster with coachwork fitted so closely to the chassis that a crease was required running down the bonnet in order to clear the long-stroke, 3.0-litre Aston Martin inline six-cylinder engine. From the car’s headlamps, fully peaked front fenders flowed back to aggressively-curved rear fenders, with the Bertone coachwork perfectly cloaking the 99-inch DB 2/4 chassis and its highly sophisticated underpinnings.
Elegant yet aggressive and purposeful, Arnolt’s Scaglione-designed car bore a strong resemblance to Aston Martin’s own DB3S competition roadsters of the period but with a flowing purity of line that only such an inspired Italian designer as Scaglione could possibly deliver. It was quickly apparent that with its involvement with Arnolt, Aston Martin had in fact created a competitor more than it had a client. Perhaps Arnolt’s use of “Arnolt Aston Martin” badging for the cars further shortened Newport Pagnell’s patience with their American distributor. At any rate, the storied English marque flatly refused to sell Arnolt or Bertone any more of its DB 2/4 chassis, abruptly halting the DB 2/4-based project, but not before Arnolt managed to secure at least two or possibly three more chassis, depending on the source, with Touring and Zagato as the coachbuilders of these cars.
The Lagonda engine was initially the same dual overhead cam straight-6 designed by W. O. Bentley and used in the Vantage version of the DB2. Displacement for this engine, designated the VB6E, was 2.6 L (2,580 cc/157 in³), giving 125 hp (93 kW) dual overhead camshaft inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live axle rear suspension with coil springs, four-wheel hydraulically actuated drum brakes. Wheelbase: 99”.
In September 1953 for the Saloon and in April 1954 for the Drophead, a 2.9 L (2,922 cc/178 in³) VB6J version was used, raising power to 140hp (104 kW) and maximum speed to 120 mph (193 km/h).
Of the 565 Mark I models produced, 102 were Drophead Coupé models. Offered with either saloon (£1925) or drophead coupe (£2025) coachwork, some 565 of the 2.6-liter Mk I version were built from 1953-1955, followed by 199 of the 2.9-liter Mk II before it was succeeded by the DB Mk III in 1957.
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