An Aston Fit For A King

 

The DB2 was the first Aston Martin to wear new owner David Brown’s initials, and in later DB2/4 specification it was offered with plus-2 seating and enhanced performance. Only around 1200 DB2s of all variants were produced, making every example highly collectible today, but none more so than the 12 left-hand drive DB2/4 rolling chassis delivered in period to coachbuilders in Italy and Switzerland.

Vignale of Turin received two of these 12 rolling chassis, but it is presumed there is only one surviving example. Chassis number LML/802 was delivered to Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale on Via Cigliano in Turin on 28 September 1954, complete with the later 2.9-litre LB6 straight-six engine producing 140bhp, and a 3.73:1 ratio rear axle intended for relaxed long-distance touring.

Vignale created a new fastback body from hand-shaped aluminium with a large opening rear hatch glazed with Perspex, a wraparound windscreen and a typically elegant interior featuring fawn leather, body-colour dashboard architecture and chromed detailing.

The unique DB4/2 was delivered to its first owner, King Baudouin of Belgium, on 10 March 1955, four years after his majesty ascended to the throne following his father King Leopold’s abdication. He was just 24 years old.

King Baudouin sold LML/802 to palace aide TR Mottershead in the late 1950s, where it was kept in Moselle, France, before being purchased in the early 1960s by James Toth, an American soldier serving with NATO in Paris.

The DB2/4 Vignale returned to the US with Toth, who damaged both the original engine and a replacement before selling LML/802 to an army captain in non-running condition.

Eventually this one-off Vignale-bodied Aston was bought by Roland Wommack of Virginia, and offered to UK-based Aston Workshop as a restoration project.

Although in a state of neglect, the DB2/4 Vignale retained its original Vignale aluminium panels, chassis, suspension, bumpers, grille, light clusters and much of its superb original detailing. The second engine and gearbox were also present.

Stripped to its constituent parts before being fastidiously restored, the finished vehicle remains faithful to the original, while adding a handful of carefully chosen and hidden mechanical enhancements.

The original Vignale hand-worked aluminium bodywork was found to be in remarkably good order beneath its tired paintwork, and was taken to bare metal and fully reworked to ensure it was perfectly smooth and free of imperfections.

After meticulous refitting and alignment with the restored chassis, the one-off Vignale bodywork was repainted in the original Peacock Blue with Silver Birch roof, using two coats of paint followed by two coats of clear lacquer. The process consumed hundreds of hours in preparation and painting alone and results in a deep, lustrous finish.

While largely missing when Aston Workshop first received the vehicle, the exact 2+2-seat interior specification has been faithfully recreated using period photographs and historical information.

The finished car presents with a beautifully crafted cabin covered in sumptuous leather with all instruments and trim exactly as specified in 1954. Ribbed leather seats, resplendent in the warm hue of Fawn, are complemented by an instrument panel and upper sections of the door panels finished in the Peacock Blue exterior colour.

The steering wheel features three large metal spokes and a thin wooden rim that frames a trio of metal-ringed Smiths dials. Chromed inserts and switchgear add to a suitably restrained if sophisticated atmosphere.

The scene is well and truly set for relaxed long-distance touring and, at the time of writing, the King's Aston is available to purchase... for a princely sum.

Click here for more information.