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*Please note this vehicle is titled 1956.
The 1955 Earls Court Show CarMr. Mackie, England (acquired new on May 18, 1956, via Brooklands of Bond street)R.S. Wilkins, United KingdomMr. Doggett, United Kingdom (acquired before 1960)W. Ham, United Kingdom (acquired circa 1962)Mr. Alderslade, United Kingdom (acquired circa 1963)Ivan Carr, Carlisle, England (acquired circa 1965)John Cresswell Crabtree, Yorkshire, England (acquired in 1972 from the above)Forshaw Family, Dorset, England (acquired in 1972 from the above)Current owner (acquired from the above)
VSCC Pomeroy Trophy, 1960, Doggett (7th Overall)VSCC Pomeroy Trophy, 1961, Doggett (1st Overall)Banbury Concours Denham Trophy, 1961, Doggett (Result Unknown)BRSCC Snetterton, 1962, Ham (2nd Overall)Silverstone, 1962, Ham (1st Place)LMC Snetterton, 1962, Ham (3rd Overall)Silverston, 1963, Alderslade (2nd Overall)SMRC Snetterton, 1963, Alderslade (2nd Place)
Earls Court Motor Show, London, England, October 1955AMOC Meetings, including Silverstone, Brands Hatch, and Fort Belvedere (1974–1990)
In 1951 Aston Martin unveiled the DB3, the first purpose-built racing car developed under the company’s new owner, David Brown.
Designed by Professor Eberan-Eberhorst, the Austrian engineer who helped develop the legendary auto Union Grand Prix cars of the 1930s, the DB3 featured a robust tubular ladder frame, torsion bar front suspension, and a De Dion back axle. Frank Feeley penned the DB3’s open bodywork, and power came from a beautiful twin-cam engine, derived from the Lagonda LB6 unit designed by Willie Watson, under the direction of W.o. Bentley.
In November 1952, Brown commissioned Watson to work on a smaller, lighter, and faster version of the DB3. While the new sports racing car – dubbed the DB3s – carried over certain features from its predecessor, it benefited from an all-new chassis design, a David Brown-built final drive, numerous weight-saving measures, and curvaceous bodywork, distinguished by cutaway front wings and dramatically peaked fenders.
The DB3s made its racing debut at Charterhall in May 1953, where Reg Parnell defeated the Ecurie Ecosse C-Types. During the 1953 season, the new Aston Martins captured wins at the Tourist Trophy, the British Empire Trophy, and the Goodwood Nine hours.
Though David Brown devoted 1954 to a complex 12-cylinder Lagonda project, the DB3s continued to perform well, reaching its zenith in 1955. That year, the World sportscar Championship was limited to three-liter cars. Frank Feeley designed new coachwork for the updated works DB3s cars, and John Wyer recruited an impressive roster of drivers, including Roy salvadori, Peter Collins, and Tony Brooks. in 1955, Aston Martin placed 2nd overall at Le Mans and took outright wins at the Goodwood Nine hours, the British Grand Prix, and Silverstone.
When Aston Martin finally retired the DB3s, it had served as a frontline sports racing car for four seasons, during which the Works team won 15 of the 35 races entered – a superb record considering that it was often pitted against much larger cars from Ferrari, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz. Not only was the DB3s a success in competition, it was also revered by its drivers who found the Aston Martin to be a particularly enjoyable and well balanced machine.
Stirling Moss drove a DB3s throughout the 1956 season and recalled the experience fondly, stating, “it was one of the nicest cars to drive, being similar to another favourite of mine – the Maserati 300s…put it on a real road circuit like the ’Ring (or, to a lesser extent, Goodwood) and you could really get it going – it could out-handle cars like the D-Type and was a lot easier to drive than a 300 SLR.”
In total, Aston Martin built just 36 DB3s chassis, 16 of which were retained for the Works team. Building on the success of the Works cars, Aston Martin constructed 20 production DB3s chassis. Except for a few coupes, the customer cars were similarly equipped, finished in Feeley’s gorgeous second-series body style and sold to private customers beginning in May 1955.
The Aston Martin offered here, DB3s/111, was constructed at the factory race shop between august and October 1955.
Presented in an elegant almond Green livery with a silver-painted grille and green leather upholstery, DB3s/111 debuted on the Aston Martin stand at the 1955 Earls Court Motor show and was described by automotive journalist John Bolster as “one of the most beautifully finished cars at the show.”
Considering that DB3s/111 was retained by the factory for Earls Court and not delivered to Brooklands of Bond street until March 4, 1956, there is a possibility that it was tested by Autosport magazine, which published reviews of a customer Aston Martin DB3s in February and april 1956.
According to Aston Martin owners Club (AMOC) records, DB3s/111 was sold to its first owner, one Mr. Mackie, on May 18, 1956. The car’s second owner, R.s. Wilkins, had the Aston Martin fitted with SU carburetors to make it more tractable as a road car and registered it as “SLX 899.”
Between 1960 and 1964, DB3S/111 passed through the ownership of three gentlemen – Doggett, Ham, and Alderslade – who all successfully campaigned the Aston Martin in English club racing, achieving strong results at important venues, such as Silverstone and Snetterton. By 1965, the DB3S had been sold to biscuit magnate Ivan Carr and it remained in his collection until 1972.
In a fascinating letter included in the car’s file, Roger Forshaw describes how he and his brother first came across DB3S/111, a car that was the centerpiece of the family’s Aston Martin collection for over four decades:
“In 1972–73 my brother Richard contacted the ten owners of DB3S cars, both production and works examples with a view to purchase. From the replies which he received we identified two cars as possibly available, DB3S/101 and DB3S/111. Richard and I purchased DB3S/101 from a Mr. Cooper in 1973.
“DB3S/111 was owned by Ivan Carr (who owned Carr’s biscuits), despite our willingness to buy the car he had already been approached by John Crabtree to whom he had given first option. Being an honourable (if naïve) man he would not go back on his word [sic] to Crabtree and gave us a second option should Crabtree’s interest lapse. In the event Crabtree heard of our interest and bought the car with no other intention than making a profit.
“Since both Richard and I wanted to own a car we bought DB3S/111 from Crabtree in 1974 and I have owned it continuously since that time.”
Between 1974 and 1990, DB3S/111 was a regular participant in AMOC events and a featured display at Aston Service Dorset, the Aston Martin Lagonda dealer and workshop that Ivan Forshaw founded in 1931.
Beginning in 1990, Aston Service Dorset completely rebuilt, repainted, and re-trimmed DB3S/111 as part of their three-year DB3S Programme headed by John Lambers, a technician who previously worked for Team Lotus, AAR, and John Surtees. Following its restoration, DB3S/111 was driven sparingly and dutifully maintained by the Forshaw family.
After Roger Forshaw passed away, the DB3S was sold to the current owner, a New York collector with an impressive stable of postwar sports cars.
Throughout his ownership, the DB3S has been looked after by Paul Russell & Company of Essex, Massachusetts, and today it is truly a sight to behold – finished in an attractive period-correct livery, powered by a specially built spare engine, and outfitted with Aston Martin’s famous plaid seats. It should be noted that the Aston Martin’s original seats and bare engine block (VB6K/111) have been crated for safekeeping and ease of storage.
Beyond these important components, the DB3s is offered with an impressive history file that includes a reproduction instruction manual, archival photographs, restoration and registration documents, as well as important correspondence dating from the Forshaws’ ownership.
In total, Aston Martin built just 20 examples of the customer DB3s, of which just 16 genuine examples survive today.
Not only was the DB3s among the most attractive and successful sports cars of the mid-1950s, it was also the most beautifully built, with staggering attention to each and every detail. Constructed by the craftsmen of the Aston Martin racing department with enormous care, and in extremely limited numbers, these sports racing cars abound in high-quality features, from recessed hold-down straps in the opening panels to the unusually high level of finish in the cockpit. By any measure, a DB3s is a car ft for the connoisseur, and it should serve its new owner well as an ideal ticket to nearly any exclusive concours, rally, or vintage race.
Given its outstanding provenance, competition history, and unique status as Aston Martin’s 1955 Earls Court show car, DB3s/111 is widely regarded as one of the finest surviving examples of this rare breed. For the collector who demands only the very best, we encourage serious consideration of this exceptionally rare and particularly appealing Aston Martin.