Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Tickford
Equipped with Rare Three-Carb DBD EngineGeorge Wright Butt, Grimsby, England (acquired new in 1959)Robert Follows, Vancouver, Canada (acquired from the above in 1983)Alan W. Smith, Bellevue, Washington (acquired from the above in 1985)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
To remain competitive in the burgeoning sports car marketplace, Aston Martin in 1957 replaced its attractive DB2/4 with a new model. The DB Mk III was made available as a fastback coupe, a 2+2 hatchback, and an elegant convertible, also known as a drophead coupe. The final development of Claude Hill’s groundbreaking chassis design, the Mk III’s most noticeable change over its predecessor was an elegant grille borrowed from the DB3S racing car. Inside, an updated instrument panel positioned the gauges more directly in front of the driver.
Worm-and-sector steering and a live-axle rear end were carryovers, but a new hydraulically operated clutch eased the effort for the David Brown four-speed gearbox, to which a Laycock de Normanville overdrive could be added. Girling front disc brakes were optional, but quickly became standard.
Under the hood, the Lagonda-derived six-cylinder twin overhead camshaft engine had been steadily improved by Aston Martin engineer Tadek Marek. Among the improvements, the standard DBA version of the engine featured a stiffer block, stronger crankshaft, and a new cylinder head with bigger valves. Twin exhausts were optional, and were said to add 16 bhp to the stated 162 bhp at 5,500 rpm.
Two special-series engines were introduced later. A DBB version with three Weber carburetors, special camshafts, and twin exhausts yielded 195 bhp, while a similar DBD variant with three SU HV6 carburetors generated 180 bhp. Of the 551 Mk III cars made from 1957 to 1959, the majority received the standard DBA engine; 47 had the DBD engine, 10 the DBB, and one is believed to have been supplied with a DBC competition engine.
Road & Track praised the Mk III in 1959, calling it “a car for connoisseurs...[that] has many virtues and few faults.” Ian Fleming put James Bond behind the wheel of a Mk III in the novel Goldfinger, although a DB5 was used in the film version.
According to factory records, this original left-hand-drive 1959 DB Mk III Drophead Coupe, chassis AM300/3/1712, was delivered new to George Wright Butt on March 20, 1959. Finished in Elusive Blue with a blue-piped grey Connolly hide interior, it left the Newport Pagnell factory in England equipped with the optional DBD engine and twin exhausts.
The Mk III was later exported to Canada, and by 1983 was sold to its second owner, Robert Follows, in Vancouver. In July 1985, Alan W. Smith of Bellevue, Washington, acquired the car; he would keep it for over 30 years. Mr. Smith sent the Mk III to a shop that disassembled the car, performed necessary bodywork, partially restored and refinished the chassis, and remounted the body.
After a subsequent attempt to recommission the Mk III stalled, marque expert Kevin Kay Restorations in Redding, California, took over the project in 2010. Under KKR’s watch, technicians rebuilt the rear axle, fitted a modern vacuum booster to improve braking performance, and serviced mechanical systems. KKR also oversaw the installation of a complete new interior, top, and top boot, using the correct leather, Wilton wool, and Everflex materials. The restorer also refurbished the chrome trim, installed a new windshield, and completed the bodywork, which already had been repainted in its current original Elusive Blue. New chrome wire wheels with correct Avon Turbosteel tires completed the restoration. The work was finished in 2017, and receipts from KKR totaling more than $181,000 accompany the sale.
In all, just 84 DB Mk III Drophead Coupes were produced, and this particular example is believed to be one of just 14 fitted with the stouter DBD engine. Significantly, the engine number visible in the car matches the accompanying Aston Martin build sheet, and a correct jack and tools are also included in the sale. This handsome Drophead Coupe presents well throughout, and was the model that helped cement Aston Martin’s reputation. With scant few available, this is an uncommon opportunity to acquire a rare and extremely desirable Feltham-era Aston Martin.