Monday, October 28, 2013

"Best Of Summer Shows"

This Aston Martin DB2/4 Mark III wins my "Best of Summer" car shows nomination, pulling away easily.  It was restored by Sport & Specialty of Durand, IL, using a donor car.  More correctly, the best of two very rough donor cars were combined.  Their website shows some details:

Until I looked it up on Wikipedia, I didn't know there was a Mark III.  It turns out to have the usual upgrades for a car built in the late 1950's: a bigger, more powerful engine, front disc brakes, and a more svelte body (borrowing the front end from the DB3S racing sports car, which has since become the "traditional" Aston Martin grille).  The Mark III was the final iteration of the DB2/4 and was succeeded by the DB4 ("James Bond") Aston.  So it was a kind of stopgap (1957-1959) while the new car was readied.

The engine was punched out from 2.6 to 2.9 liters, with horsepower ranging from 162 to 180, depending on the induction and exhaust system.  (Ten cars were made with wilder camshafts and Weber carbs, raising horsepower to 195.)  These were not ground-pounding numbers, even in the late '50's, and a     0-60 time of 9.3 seconds with a top end of 120 m.p.h. wasn't in Jaguar or Corvette, let alone Ferrari, territory.  Yet its $7450 list price was well above what you'd have paid for a Jag or a 'Vette.

Road & Track complained about heavy steering and a stiff ride, according to Wikipedia, and the Mark III got no credit for its innovative rear hatch with fold-down seats (which made it the most user-friendly GT).  It also lacked rack & pinion steering.

None of this seems to matter much 55 years on.  The Mark III is almost as pretty as a Ferrari (with a top-of-the-line interior too), and prettier than contemporary Jags.  Who cares about heavy steering and a harsh ride if the car is a weekend toy?  Just enjoy the revs from the d.o.h.c. straight six and the needles on those Smith's analog gauges moving around.  This car is so mechanical.  Thought bubble: "The Red Baron climbs aboard his DB2/4 Mark III and..."

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