Aston Martin DB 2-4 GB

Road Tested in 1954

The Aston Martin DB 2-4 (3-litre)
A Remarkable All-rounder which will Carry Adults, Children and Luggage at Speeds Closely Approaching 120 m.p.h. and which Offers Exceptional Roadworthiness

SOME cars are designed clearly with but a single end in view. That is to say, they may be dedicated wholly to the task of moving a small family with the utmost economy, and with the lowest possible first cost; or of moving a nobleman in the utmost magnificence irrespective of price; or of carrying a competition driver through a rally or race at the highest possible speed consistent with absolute reliability. In cars of these kinds the experienced critic can quickly assess how well the given task has been executed, either absolutely, or in relation to comparable cars on the market. There are, however, other, multi-purpose cars where the issues are more complex, and it would certainly be hard to name a car which offers more widely differing possibilities than the Aston Martin D82-4 or one which succeeds in so many differing capacities.

The prototype of the existing production model was built for the 1949 Le Mans race, and in 1950 and 1951 these models achieved outstanding success on this circuit using the 2.58 - litre engine. For the past two years the company has been using a 2.9 - litre engine in its competition cars, and the application of this power unit to the catalogue car has resulted in improvement in every measurable aspect of performance.
Should anyone wish to drive so high spirited a steed at low speeds in top gear, in the American fashion, they will find it possible to accelerate between 20 and 40 m.p.h. in 7.9 sec. instead of 8.0 sec. Should they seek to reach 50 m.p.h. as quickly as possible from rest, they will find it can be done through the gears in 8.2 as against 8.6 sec. Should the driver encounter, when cruising at high speed, a typical main-road gradient of 1 in 20 he will find it possible to surmount this at 105 m.p.h. in place of 100 m.p.h. Finally, should he seek to satisfy himself on the aspect of absolute maximum speed, he will find it to be 118.5 m.p.h. on the road, as compared with 116.4 m.p.h. Lastly, and as a point proving a basic gain in efficiency as well as one affecting the pocket, the larger engined car showed a fuel consumption of 23 m.p.g. as compared with the earlier model's 20 m.p.g. Some 325 miles can therefore be covered before resorting to the 3-gallon reserve. Enough has been said to show that anyone interested in the competition aspect of motoring will find in the D82-4 Aston Martin a car well capable of holding its own in the 3-litre sports class for catalogue cars. The road worthiness of the car is of a quite exceptional order. The springing is soft enough to ensure that typically continental pave causes little discomfort even with the tyres inflated to 30 lb. for high speed use, yet sufficiently firm to permit cornering in comfort at high fractions of G. What is more, the feeling of security is not illusory and even on wet and slippery roads the car can be driven with the utmost confidence. It may perhaps be added that this feeling of safety is assisted by the remarkable rigidity of the chassis and the solid feel of the body, it being noted at the same time that the latest model is 2..75 cwt. heavier than the preceding type.
Having now evaluated the car from a competition viewpoint, let us consider some of the potential alternative uses. It is with one exception the only production car capable of circa 2 miles a minute which can, with qualifications, be called a four seater. It cannot be pretended that the two dished pressings behind the' front seats are adequate for adults, but they can certainly carry two children who have not left their preparatory school and there must be many men who would find it difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile their desire for performance at will with the necessity of carrying children at times, if it were not for the availability of this car.
In addition to providing two children's seats, the car also offers the opportunity of stowing a considerable quantity of baggage readily accessible through the opening tail. But if only two persons are carried, the baggage space becomes almost unequalled in European cars for the squab of the rear seats can be hinged over to provide a space measuring 17.5 sq. ft. Last, but perhaps not in everyone's mind least, this car of exceptional performance can be used without difficulty for country-road pottering or for town shopping, the excellent rear visibility being of particular value in built-up areas. Reference has been already made to the high degree of security experienced when driving this car and to this one may add the
pleasures to he obtained from full use of the gearbox, the performance on third upon which 90 m.p.h. can be reached being especially exhilarating.
This figure is slightly above the conservative limit of 5,000 r.p.m. specified by the makers, and it is also possible to reach 63 m.p.h. on second gear and 40 m.p.h. on first-or some 10% added without protest from the engine. While considering this matter, the fact that the speedometer was truly accurate is sufficiently rare as to deserve praise, especially as the range recorded is quite exceptional.
Outstanding Acceleration
The overall acceleration of the car is, of course, of an order quite outside the experience of the everyday motorist. In top gear, for instance, the car will accelerate from 40 to 80 m.p.h. in under lR sec., or in less than 13 sec. if third gear is used. On a more normal car of similar engine capacity the comparable time on top gear will be of the order of 40 sec., and so high a speed as 80 m.p.h. will not be available in an indirect ~ear. Looking at the matter from a perhaps more practical aspect, after the s.,me elapsed time the more normal vehicle will he doing a little over 65 m.p.h., when the Aston Martin is going 15 m.p.h. faster. So impressive indeed is this surge forward in top gear that one is given the appetite for an even higher. overdrive, ratio so that one could cruise at, say, 90 m.p.h. at less than 3,500 r.p.m. But from the technical aspects of piston speed and overall efficiency the car is obviously not under-geared. Proof of the latter is found in the excellent fuel consumption. At a road speed of a mile a minute this is little less than 30 m.p.g., and it is usefully more than 30 m.p.g. below 50 m.p.h. If, therefore, the car is driven gently on the open road, overall figures over 25 m.p.g. can be realized.
Unfortunately, maximum acceleration cannot be achieved unless the tank is more than half full, as fuel starvation can occur at a lower level unless the reserve line is
used. There is obviously the danger that if it is so used, the driver will rely upon being able to travel up to 75 miles when the fuel runs out, only to find that this security has vanished.
Considerable attention has obviously been given to the easy maintenance of this model. In the first place the bonnet, which is in one piece with the "wings," is pivoted on the nose of the car, so that when lifted the front suspension and steering assemblies are disclosed in addition to the engine. In case it should he necessary to make adjustments by night, a light is placed so as to illuminate the engine compartment. The sparking plugs, distributor, coil and carburetters can all readily be worked upon, especially as they are not, as so often, obscured by a large air cleaner. Two small Vokes units are attached to the intakes of the S. U. carburetters. On the right-hand side of the car there is a copper hammer for the wheel caps and a conventional hydraulic jack is placed in the rear compartment. The spare wheel does not intrude into the luggage-carrying section, but is placed beneath the fuel tank with a quick-release system. Getting a punctured tyre and wheel back into place calls for some strength and dexterity.
The tyres squeal ,somewhat readily under heavy braking and, despite the large friction-lining area, the car was not wholly free from the vice of pulling to left or right if serious braking was required with some frequency.
Both the brake and clutch pedals somewhat unexpectedly combine long travel with the need for high pressures, and now that many mass-production cars are fitting proper hand-brakes, it is sad to see the umbrella-type still used on a famous car, especially when it is so awkwardly situated.
Despite so much to eulogize, it must be confessed that there are a number of points where one might expect rather greater attention to the amenities. In detail, one observes that the driving mirror flutters and thus diminishes the advantage of the big rear window; the floor of the luggage compartment is not covered by the rubber "carpet" which would preserve the contents and help to quieten the interior; the cubby holes in the facia and map pockets in the doors are smaller than one would wish, and within 2,000 miles the catches on the ventilator panels had made deep scratches in the leather on top of the doors.
Opinion amongst 'The staff' was divided on the question of the somewhat dominant exhaust noise, but some found its sonorous deep note tiring, and it seemed impossible to find a fuel which gave freedom from pinking at under 1,500 r.p.m. Perhaps, however, the most disappointing aspect of this fine automobile were the seats, which seemed to satisfy no one. Entry of an elderly person over the high body sides (dictated by the rigid frame) is impeded by doors with a restricted angular opening, and no passenger shorter than 6 ft. fi in. could get his separate seat far enough forward to permit him to brace his feet upon the toe-board. This is the more unfortunate since neither seat gives any sideways support, the vestige of a centre armrest being used as an accessible tool box and the flat squab being in both cases inclined slightly inwards. The result is that the driver loses much of the merit of the good steering by having to use the wheel as a locating ring, and the passenger, when the car is cornered fast, is thrown around like the proverbial pea in a pod.
But these are the only criticisms of great consequence in a car of rare quality, unusual performance, exceptional road worthiness and unrivalled versatility.

In Brief

Price:£1,850 plus purchase tax £771 19s.
2d., equals £2,621 19s. 2d.
Capacity... ... ... 2,922 c.c.
Unladen kerb weight ... 24.75 cwt.
Fuel consumption ... ...23.0 m.p.g.
Maximum speed ... ...118.5 m.p.h.
Maximum speed on 1 in 20 .
gradient ... ... ... 105 m.p.h. Maximum top gear gradient 1 in 7.4 Acceleration:
10-30 m.p.h. in top ... 8.0 sec.
0-50 m.p.h. through gears 8.2 sec.
Gearing: 21.5 m.p.h. in top at 1,000 r.p.m.; 91 m.p.h. at 2,500 ft. per min. piston speed.

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other fifties road tests:

Jaguar XK 150

Aston Martin DBIII

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Chevrolet Sting Ray

Bizzarrini GT

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Porsche 904

Ferrari 275

Aston Martin DB4

other seventies road tests:

other eighties road tests:

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Chevrolet Corvette

Author: ArchitectPage

Mechanical Specification


Cylinders 6

Bore 83 mm.

Stroke 90 mm

Cubic capacity 2,922 c.c.

Valves o.h.v. (2 overhead camshafts)

Compression ratio 8.2/1

Max. power 140 b.h.p. at 5,ooo r.p.m.

Carburetter 2 S.U. horizontal (type HV6)

Ignition 12-volt coil

Sparking plugs 10 mm. K.L.G. type P10l80

Fuel pump Dual S.U. electrical

Oil filter Purolator by-pass


Clutch Borg & Beck 9A6G sif1gle dry plate

Top gear (s/m) 3.73

3rd gear (s/m) 4.96

2nd gear (s/m) 7.38

1st gear 10.9

Propeller shaft Hardy Spicer open

 Final drive Salisbury hypoid bevel

Top gear m.p.h. at 1,000 r.p.m ............ 21.5

Top gear m.p.h. at 1,000 ft./mm. piston speed


Brakes.. Girling hydraulic (2 I.s. front)

Brake drum diameter 12 in.

Friction lining area 152 sq. in.


Front I.F.S. by coil springs and trailing parallel links

Rear Coil springs and rigid axle located by radius arms

Shock absorbers:

Front Armstrong D.A.S. 10R

Rear Armstrong D.A.S. 12R

Tyres Dunlop "Road Speed" 6.00x16


Steering gear Maries com and double roller

Turning circle 33 feet

Turns of steering wheel, lock to lock 2t

Performance factor. (at laden weight 0> te3ted):




Coachwork and Equipment

Bumper height wi th car unladen: Front (max.) 20 in., (min.) 10.5 in.

Rear (max.) 22 in., (min.) 12t in.

Starting handle yes

Battery mounting Alongside engine

Jack Hydraulic

Jacking points Under front and rear road springs

Standard tool kit: Hydraulic jack and handle, tyre pump, starting handle, screwdriver, pliers, spark plug spanner. 3 double-ended spanners, tyre pressure gauge.

Exterior lights: Two double-dipping headlamps, 2 sidelamps, 2 stop/tail lamps, 1 number plate lamp and reversing lamp.Direction indicators: Self-cancelling semaphore type (flashing type for export to America)Windscreen wipers... Electric two-speed, self­ parking, twin blades

Sun vizors 2, hinge mounted

Instruments: Speedometer with decimal trip distance recorder, clock, rev. counter, ammeter, oil pressure gauge, coolant ther­mometer, fuel/oil contents indicator.Warning lights: Fuel reserve, dynamo charge, head lamp main beam, direction indicators.

locks: With ignition key Ignition and nearside door

With other keys Nil

Glove lockers Nil

Map pockets 2 in doors

Parcel shelves 2 on facia panel

Ashtrays 1 on facia panel

Cigar lighters 1 on facia panel

Interior lights 1 above rear scat

Iterior heater: Fresh-air type with intake on scuttle, providing windscreen de-misting.

Car radio Optional

Extra available: Radiomobile ModeI4200BfYAC

Upholstery material leather

Floor covering Pile carpet

Exterior colours standardised: Black, Grey. crimson, green. blue. Alternative body styles: Drop-head coupe

Price: £1,950 basic.
Road Test No. 24/54 (Continental)
Make: Aston Martin Type: DB 2-4 (Vantage 3-litre)
Makers: Aston Martin, Ltd., Hanworth PClrk, Feltham, Middlesex.
Test Data:
WEIGHT Unladen kerb weight 24.75 cwt.

Front/rear weight distribution 51/49

Weight laden as tested 28.75.cwt.

CONDITIONS. Mild. showery weather with very strong cross wind. Smooth concrete surface (dry during standing starr acceleration tests). Premium. grade Belgian and British pump fuel.
Speedometer at 30 m.p.h. Speedometer at 60 m.p.h. Speedometer at 90 m.p.h. Distance recorder 2% slow
Flying Kilometre
Mean of four opposite runs 118.5 m.p.h.
Best time equals 120.3 m.p.h.
Speed in Gears (recommended limits)
Max. speed in 3rd gear 93 m.p.h.
Max. speed in 2nd gear 63 m.p h.
Max. speed in 1st gear 10 m.p.h.
34.5 m p.g. at constant 30 m.p.h. 33.5 m.p.g. at constant 40 m.p.h. 30.S m.p.g. at constant 50 m.p.h. 28.5 m.p.g. at constant 60 m.p.h. 26.0 m.p.g. at constant 70 m.p.h. 22.5 m.p.g. at constant 80 m.p.h. 20.0 m.p.g. at cQnstant 90 m.p.h.
17.0 m.p.g. at constant 100 m.p.h.
Overall consumption for 1,131 miles. 49.2 gallons,
= 23.0 m.p.g.
Fuel tank capacity, 17 gallons (including 3 gallons
0-30 m.p.h 4.2 sec.
0-40 m.p.h 6.0 sec.
0-50 m.p.h. 8.2 sec.
0-60 m.p.h. 10.5 sec.
0-70 m.p.h. 13.8 sec.
0-80 m.p.h. 17.7 sec.
0-90 m.p.h. 22.2 sec.
0-100 m.p.h. 30.0 sec.
Standing Quarter Mile 17.9 sec.

Sump: 15 pints. S.A.E. 40 summer, S.A.E. 30 winter. Gearbox: 21 pints S.A.E. 30. Rear axle: 2 pints S.A.E. 90 hypoid gear oil. Steerin, Kear: S.A.E. 90 hypoid gear oil. Radiator: 24 pintS (2 drain taps). Chanls lubrication: By grease gun every 2,500 miles to 14 points. IKnitlon timing: 10 degrees b.t.d.c. with manual control at midway position. Spark plug Kap: 0.022 in.
Contact breaker Kap: 0.012 in. Valve timing: Inlet open 0.082 in. 100 A.T.D.C. Ex. open 0.082 in. 10 degree B.T.D.C. Tappet clearances (Cold): Inlet and exhaust, 0.0120.014 in. Front wheel toe-in: * in. Camber anile: 2io. Castor angle: 2!0. Tyre pressures: Front 26/30 lb., rear 27/31 lb. according to driving speeds. Brake t1uid: Girling crimson. Battery: 12 volt, 51 amp./hr. (Lucas GTW9A) Lamp bulbs: 12 volt. Headlamps: 48/48 w.att (Lucas No. 302). Winkers/sidelamps and tail/stop lamps: 18/6 watt (Lucas No. 361). Reversinl and under-bonnet lamps: 24 watt (Lucas No. 199). Number plate lamp: 6 watt (Lucas No. 989).