It was in 1947 that David Brown purchased Aston Martin. The first car made under his ownership was the 2-Liter Sports, sometimes called the DB1, although this wasn’t the official name. But the four-cylinder engine in the car wasn’t as powerful has Brown would have liked, so he bought Lagonda as well, another sports car maker that had a more powerful inline-six engine, and he then set about combining Aston’s chassis engineering with the newly acquired Lagonda engine. The result was the DB2, also the first Aston Martin model to be offered as a Vantage, which at the time was a designation for race-ready cars.

The DB2 was more sports car than the grand tourer DB models that followed, but even in Vantage form, it was a comfortable car with a full interior. Pre-production versions were raced at Le Mans and Spa in 1949, two with the old 2-liter engine and one with the Lagonda engine. After Spa, it was clear that the inline-six was the better choice for the new car, and the decision to use it in the production car the following year was finalized. This was the origin point for what would become one of the most desirable lines of GT cars ever made.

Continue reading to learn more about the 1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage.

  • 1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage
  • Year:
    1950
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-6
  • Transmission:
    four-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    125
  • Displacement:
    2580 L
  • 0-60 time:
    10 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    116 mph
  • Price:
    300000
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Exterior
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1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Exterior
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1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Exterior
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The DB2 was a much smaller car than the Astons we’re used to today. It was more than a foot shorter than the DB5 and fully two feet shorter and 9 inches narrower than the current DB9.

The look of the styling is very different from later DB models, particularly the DB4 and those that came after.

The look of the styling is very different from later DB models, particularly the 1958-1963 Aston Martin DB4 and those that came after. This is partly because the DB2 was designed in ’40s, but also because the coachbuilder, Tickford, wasn’t acquired by David Brown until 1955, so it was only after that point that there was a shift in Aston Martin’s styling.

Still, you can see an early version of what would become the signature Aston grille, which would evolve further on the DB2/4 and become more or less what we know it today on the DB Mark III.

From certain angles, particularly when viewed from the front, the car looks like it has an absurdly long hood. But this is due mostly to the slope of the hood, and when viewed from the back or the side it looks much more proportionate. It is a very clean design though, and much more modern than the 2-Liter Sports that it replaced, designed just a few years prior.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 2,515 MM (99.0 Inches)
Front track 1,372 MM(54.0 Inches)
Rear track 1,372 MM (54.0 Inches)
Length 4,299 MM (169.3 Inches)
Width 1,651 MM (65.0 Inches)
Height 1,359 MM (53.5 Inches)

Interior

1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Interior
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1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Interior
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1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Interior
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Most DB cars have used a 2+2 seating arrangement, at least in hardtop form, and even if the back seats aren’t especially usable by adults, they do make for a roomier cabin. But the DB2 was just a two-seater, in both hardtop and convertible forms. This was because Aston was building a sports car, one that could easily be converted to a race car, and back seats wouldn’t come until Aston changed the DB cars to grand tourers.

You might expect all of this to mean that the DB2 would have a spartan interior with only necessary and functional features, but this wasn’t the case at all. The interior was full of all the wood and leather that you would expect from an expensive British car in 1950, complete with a huge wooden steering wheel. The gauges are massive, presumably because they were placed in the center of the dash and they needed to be big in order for the driver to be able to read them while driving.

Drivetrain

1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 644086

The 2.6-liter Lagonda inline-six was a massive technological step up for Aston. The twin-cam DOHC engine replaced a smaller pushrod four-cylinder engine that made just 90 horsepower. The regular DB2 had 105 horsepower, but Vantage models like the one you see here had higher 8.16:1 compression and made 125 horsepower. The engine was made for racing, and this specific car was raced in the first Sebring six-hour race and took 15th overall and 2nd in class. But more importantly, the Aston Martin factory team took 1st and 2nd in class at Le Mans in 1950.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 2,580 cc DOHC inline six-cylinder engine
Output 125 HP
Transmission four-speed manual

Prices

1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Exterior
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The car here is going up for auction and is expected to go for $460,000 - $535,000. That’s less than DB4 and 1963-1967 Aston Martin DB5 Vantages typically go for; a lot less, actually. But those are the most iconic Aston models, and the DB2 will probably never be more valuable. It is more rare though, with only 411 built from 1950 to 1953. This particular car was the 19th DB2 of any sort built, and the first Vantage made in the history of Aston Martin. It’s also one of only three Vantages with the three-piece “washboard” grille, and all of this has driven the price up to where it is. A “regular” DB2 would go for less.

Competition

1948-1954 Jaguar XK120

1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Exterior
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The XK120 is another British sports car with a strong motorsports heritage from the same time period, and a natural rival to the DB2. The Jag had a much bigger and more powerful engine than the Aston. This meant that it usually raced in a different class, but on the street it was a different story. The XK120 wasn’t nearly as expensive, and as a result Jaguar built 30 for every DB2 unit produced. The result is that they are much cheaper and easier to get today, and even high quality replicas are plentiful.

1948-1965 Porsche 356

1948 - 1965 Porsche 356
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In many ways, there’s really no comparing the 356 to the DB2. The 356 was based on the VW Beetle, the car that defined the cheap-car genre at the time. But as a racing car, the 356 was a formidable opponent for the DB2 Vantage. The 356A Carrera GT actually had slightly more power, weighed significantly less and generally sells for pretty much the same price. It’s true that racing 356s don’t have the interiors that DB2 Vantages have, but that’s the difference between a dedicated race car and a car that can go racing.

You can read our full review here.

Conclusion

1950 Aston Martin DB2 Vantage High Resolution Exterior
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It’s true that the DB2 is mostly a historical curiosity to a lot of people. It’s interesting because it’s where the later DB cars came from, but it isn’t nearly as desirable itself. That is the reason behind the differences in pricing, but it should be noted that the DB2 was hugely important to more than just Aston. The DB2 was serious piece of technology, and it was cars like this one that set the tone for what a postwar grand tourer should be. The DB2 deserves to be known for more than just being the DB jumping off point, although they are plenty expensive as it is.

  • Leave it
    • a lot of money for something that isn’t a DB5
    • 125 horsepower doesn’t seem all that impressive 65 years later
    • insane gauge placement makes you take your eyes off the road constantly

Source: RM Sothebys

Jacob Joseph
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