Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Graber
A.N. Norrish, Esq., Genova-Quarto, Italy (acquired new via Stierli Garage, Zürich, Switzerland, in May 1955)Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired 2007)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2011)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2010 (Third in Class, Post-War Sports & Touring)
Developed from the two-seat DB2 – the first Aston Martin model carrying the DB designation honoring company owner David Brown – the DB2/4 debuted in 1953 and offered broader appeal with updates yielding greater space for up to four, as well as their luggage, in the finest Grand Touring tradition. Among the revisions were a folding rear seat, modern one-piece curved windshield, and more substantial bumpers with over-riders. The additional weight of the versatile DB2/4 was initially compensated for by fitment of the W.O. Bentley/Lagonda-derived Vantage-specification 2.6-litre DOHC engine. This delivered 125 bhp as standard equipment, yielding top speeds well above 100 mph, consistent with Brown’s “Gentleman’s Express” ethos. In September 1953, DB2/4 Saloons received the enlarged 140 hp “VB6J” 2.9-litre engine, with the glamorous DB2/4 Drophead Coupes following suit by April 1954.
While a premium-level Grand Tourer without overt racing pretensions, it was only natural the new Aston Martin DB2/4 would be tested in competition. Following a string of disappointing race retirements at Buenos Aires and at Sebring in early 1954, Aston Martin revised its strategy and focused on international rallies for 1955, and the DB2/4 acquitted itself quite well, particularly in the storied Monte Carlo Rally, where Peter Collins and Graham Whitehead piloted the winning car. Retrospectively known as the Mark I, the first DB2/4 series numbered 565 cars, including 102 Drophead Coupes.
Mulliners of Birmingham produced the handsome Saloon, Drophead Coupe, and Notchback bodies for the DB2/4 until Brown’s purchase of Tickford in 1955. Still, a few select Aston Martin clients demanded even greater exclusivity. In addition to a pair of DB2/4s being converted to open spiders by Touring in Italy for a Daily Mail newspaper contest in London, seven or eight were supplied to US dealer Stanley “Wacky” Arnolt and bodied to his specifications by Bertone, Touring, and Zagato. In Switzerland, Hermann Graber’s renowned Carrosserie Graber also worked its magic on four Aston Martins – all Drophead Coupes, including three DB2s and one DB2/4, the striking example offered here.
Numbered LML/562, this late-production, 2.6-litre 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 was ordered by A.N. Norrish, Esq. of Genova-Quarto, Italy, and sent to Carrosserie Graber of Switzerland for custom Drophead Coupe coachwork. In contrast to its UK-built counterparts, Graber’s body for the DB2/4 was constructed of aluminum panels up front, with steel utilized from the windscreen back. This unconventional technique allowed Graber’s renowned engineers to weld the body directly to the chassis, with the vehicle’s doors and posts supported by sturdy oak framing. As expected, both workmanship and detail items were of excellent quality, including Bosch switchgear, Smiths instruments, Marchal lights, Dunlop tires, and Armstrong shock absorbers. While leaving no doubt as to its Aston Martin heritage, the Graber-built bodywork of LML/562 endows the vehicle with a cleaner, Continental-influenced overall presence.
Following completion in May 1955, LML/562 was delivered new via Stierli Garage in Zürich. Remaining in Switzerland, the Drophead Coupe was eventually placed into long-term storage in Basel, where it ultimately came to the attention of noted Aston Martin enthusiast Hans Peter Wiedeman, yet remained in relative obscurity until 2007, when it was sold to a Los Angeles-based collector of rare coachbuilt sports cars. Soon after arrival in the US, the singular DB2/4 was thoroughly restored by the Aston Martin experts at Kevin Kay Restorations in Redding, California. Some 1,000 hours of labor alone were invested into restoration of the one-off bodywork, which was then finished in Dove Grey over dark blue leather upholstery and fitted with a Blue Mohair convertible top.
Upon completion, LML/562 debuted at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where it was awarded a creditable Third in Class. In 2011, LML/562 was acquired by the current owner and, as offered, it is accompanied by a concours-quality tool roll, roadside jack, and wheel knock-off hammer. Clearly benefiting from fastidious care and proper storage, LML/562 remains a superb example of a true custom-coachbuilt Aston Martin that not only retains its original engine but also is enhanced by Carrosserie Graber’s tasteful body design, signature touches, and renowned quality. This example will make a welcome entry into virtually any worthy classic car event the new owner should choose to enter, particularly those offered by the Aston Martin Owners Club. Truly, this DB2/4 stands as a postwar sporting legend fit for the finest of collections and elite venues.