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Lot 138

2016   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2016

1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Spider

Coachwork by Bertone

SOLD $3,080,000

Estimate

$3,000,000 - $4,000,000

Chassis

LML/505

Engine

VB6J/91

Car Highlights

One of Just Three DB2/4 Spiders Bodied by Bertone
Displayed at the 1954 New York Auto Show
Unique Two-Seat Spider Coachwork Penned by Franco Scaglione
Well-Documented History and Award-Winning Restoration
One of the Most Coveted Road-Going Aston Martins of the Era

Technical Specs

2,922 CC DOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Twin SU Side-Draft Carburetors
140 BHP at 5,000 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Alfin Drum Brakes
Independent Front Suspension with Coil Springs
Live Rear Axle with Coil Springs and Panhard Rod
Register to Bid

2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® Award Winner | 1954 New York Auto Show CarMr. Schwaumbauer, Wichita, Kansas (acquired new at the 1954 New York Auto Show)C.S. Wallen (acquired from the above in 1958)Charles Barnett (acquired from the above in 1961)Jerry A. Rogers, Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above in 1973)W.W. Child (acquired from the above)Annie Abensur, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1984)Carlos Monteverde, London, England (acquired from the above in 1996)Current Owner (acquired from the above)

AMOC Spring Concours, Woburn Abbey, England, 2004 (1st in Class)Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, 2007 (Third in Class)

American industrialist and British car distributor Stanley H. Arnolt was a self-made millionaire, having parlayed patents he purchased in the 1930s into manufacturing business for his Indiana-based factory. In 1950, Arnolt opened a foreign car dealership in Chicago selling Aston Martin, MG, Riley, Morris, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce vehicles. In 1951, he entered into an arrangement with Nuccio Bertone to build 100 examples each of the coupe and cabriolet-bodied MGs that he had seen on the Bertone stand at the Torino Salon. Thus a partnership was born that would produce some of the more memorable sports car designs of the 1950s, including the car offered here, the Aston Martin DB2/4 Spider, chassis LML/505.

In 1953, Arnolt purchased five sequential Aston Martin DB2/4 chassis and sent them to Carrozzeria Bertone to be fitted with custom coachwork. While the even-numbered chassis were fitted with opulent, luxurious bodies, 503, 505, and 507 were fitted with a distinctive sporting design penned by one of the most talented and prolific designers of the 1950s and 1960s, Franco Scaglione. Scaglione’s credits include the incomparable Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars, the Siata 208 CS Coupe, the Abarth Porsche, the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale, and a wide variety of one-offs and important production cars.

Scaglione designed this dazzling roadster specifically for Arnolt. The body featured a sharp crease in the center of the hood – a necessity to contain the tall long-stroke Aston engine – and one of the most exotic fender lines ever penned. Its overall appearance is something akin to an Italian variation of Aston Martin’s own DB3S, a car that was making quite a name for itself in 1953 and 1954. After these three cars were completed, it became clear to Aston Martin that Arnolt was more of a competitor than a client, and the British company refused to sell the Chicago businessman any more chassis. Undaunted, he was able to acquire two other chassis, although the first five are the most famous of the Arnolt-Astons.

Of the three chassis fitted with this body, two were designed for outright competition use and were minimally equipped for the purpose; the third, this car, LML/505, was a more luxurious example equipped with a full windscreen, intricate grille, bumpers, a lavishly appointed interior with unique features, and full soft top. Arnolt showed the suitably opulent LML/505 at the 1954 New York Auto Show, where it was fitted with an Aston Martin badge in an attempt to seduce company owner David Brown into making the Bertone-bodied roadster an Aston Martin production model. The gesture obviously left its mark, with Aston Martin taking almost five years to catch on. Arnolt lived just long enough to see the Italian firms Touring and Zagato being used to turn out some of the most competitive Aston race cars of the early 1960s.

Two articles in the AM Quarterly, one by then-owner Jerry Rogers in 1976 and another by restorer Roger McCouat in 2004, give great insight into the history of LML/505 and chronicle the car’s first owner as Mr. Schwaumbauer of Wichita, Kansas, who is said to have purchased LML/505 directly off the New York show stand in 1954. Two Air Force captains, C.S. Wallen and Charles Barnett, owned the car consecutively from 1958 into the 1970s, with Capt. Barnett starting a restoration that was finished by Los Angeles-based Aston enthusiast Jerry Rogers, who purchased the car in 1973. W.W. Child was the Aston’s next known steward, selling the DB2/4 to Annie Abensur in Switzerland. Abensur subsequently consigned LML/505 to an auction in Geneva in May 1996, when it was purchased by Carlos Monteverde. The Aston, which had been restored to a relatively high standard while in Switzerland, was then sold by Mr. Monteverde to its current owner some time before 2003.

Aston Martin restorer, owner, and enthusiast Roger McCouat of Somerset, England, was then enlisted to completely restore LML/505 in its original livery, a process that McCouat carefully chronicled in his AM Quarterly article. The car was completely disassembled and all mechanical components were rebuilt, as shown in numerous photographs that accompany the sale. The original 2.9-litre engine, the same type used in Aston’s works competition cars, was carefully rebuilt and converted to unleaded specification by David Martin at Motorman.

Importantly, a section of original paint was found along the inner edge of the bonnet, which was matched by Spray-Tec Restorations, where the finish was expertly applied following careful preparation of the body shell by Bodylines Ltd.

The DB2/4 Spider and its stunning restoration would be put on display at the 2004 Aston Martin Owners Club’s Spring Concours at Woburn Abbey, where LML/505 would win the “Feltham Aston” class. The only other known display of the Bertone Spider was at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where it earned a class award in the Aston Martin Postwar Custom Coachwork category in 2007.

The Bertone Spider is now offered in spectacular condition, its 2004 restoration still showing well and benefiting from little use since completion. As a coachbuilt Aston Martin of superior quality, style, and substance, this wonderful Spider would be a fitting companion for significant concours and touring events and deserves your serious consideration.