Monterey | Lot 118
1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe by Bertone
The Paul Andrews Estate Collection
$850,000 - $1,200,000 USD | Offered Without Reserve
| Monterey, California
12 August 2021
- 12% of the hammer price up to and including $250,000
- 10% of the hammer price in excess of $250,000
- One of just two DB2/4 Drophead Coupes bodied by Bertone
- Previously owned by Aston Martin Works driver Innes Ireland
- Shown at the 1955 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
- Appears in Pebble Beach: A Matter of Style by Robert T. Devlin
- Restored to show quality in 2007; extensively documented in accompanying history file
Stanley H. Arnolt, known as “Wacky” Arnolt, was a Chicago industrialist with a love of British cars and a penchant for doing things his own way. Already a millionaire, Arnolt owned a wide range of manufacturing businesses, but his true love was motor vehicles—and he had dreams of leaving his mark on the automotive world. At the 1952 Turin Motor Show, a chance meeting with Nuccio Bertone gave him just such a chance.
In 1952, Carrozzeria Bertone had just moved production into the large Grugliasco factory; Arnolt purchased stake in the company and joined the Board of Directors. The first result of this collaboration was named the Arnolt-MG, a Bertone body over a MG TD chassis, sold exclusively in the United States. Following the MG was the Arnolt-Bristol, created using bare Bristol 404 chassis. Upon the launch of the Aston Martin DB2/4 at the 1953 London Motor Show, Arnolt convinced David Brown to send just six bare chassis to Bertone. This Italian, British, American triumvirate would result in three Spiders, one Coupe, and a pair of Drophead Coupes—one of which is offered here today.
To style the bodywork for the two drophead coupes, Nuccio Bertone turned to prolific designer Giovanni Michelotti. Unlike the flashier spiders, the drophead coupes were designed to be tastefully subtle—a blend of Italian luxury, British engineering, and American style.
At the front of LML/506, exposed headlights are mounted on either side of a large nose intake that houses a five-bar grille reminiscent of the classic Aston Martin shape. Chrome trim draws the eye along the gently arching shape of the car, towards the gently finned rear bumpers. When lowered, the canvas roof stows below a tonneau that is almost flush with the rear deck. Inside, well-padded leather seats are perfect for long-distance touring on American highways. As recorded on the Aston Martin build sheet, LML/506 was equipped with a telescopic steering column.
Although the build sheet on file indicates that the rolling chassis was originally fitted with engine number VB6E/50/1240, it notes that replacement engine DB6E/50/337 was fitted at some date. Still present in the car, this engine was the 2.6-liter Vantage engine offered as an option on the DB2. With a compression ratio of 8.16:1 and fitted with two 1.5-inch SU carburetors, peak output was recorded at 125 brake horsepower.
Once bodied by Bertone, this special DB2/4 was purchased by Mrs. Edith C. Field of San Francisco California. According to a close friend of Mrs. Field, Liz Coppel, Edith was a “wealthy eccentric” with very good taste in cars. Edith often raced her AC Ace-Bristol in local SCCA races. LML/506 was clearly a special car for a very special woman.
In 1955, Mrs. Field showed LML/506 at Pebble Beach, taking home a 3rd-place trophy in the two-seat sports car, $4,500-$10,000 class. For the next three decades, the history of the DB2/4 is unknown; it is not until the mid-1980s that the car was re-discovered in Tennessee. In 1986, Aston Martin Works driver and well-known Grand Prix racer Innes Ireland purchased the car after it had been imported to the United Kingdom. Although Ireland had dreams of restoring the car to its former glory, he was convinced to sell to David Clark, who kept the car in unrestored condition for 20 more years.
In 2007, new owner Tarek Mahmoud commissioned Goldsmith & Young to manage a full restoration. Fortunately, the body was in good condition and only needed minor repairs, with a new bonnet and boot supplied by Bodylines. SprayTec undertook a complete repaint to the original blue, while LA & RW Piper retrimmed the interior and furnished a new canvas hood. The entire restoration is documented thoroughly in the extensive history file which accompanies the car.
Shortly after the restoration was completed, LML/506 was sold to a new owner and was then displayed at the 2011 AMOC Autumn Concours where it took first place in the Feltham Class. LML/506 was purchased by the consignor several years ago, and the stunning Drophead Coupe has received the high level of care typical of their impressive private collection.
Now showing only minor signs of age since its restoration, this coachbuilt Aston Martin is offered with a proper tool kit and, more important, a remarkably extensive history file. Included inside are numerous magazine articles on the Bertone-bodied Aston Martins, a copy of the factory build sheet, BMIHT Certificate, correspondence, restoration records, photographs, and ownership documents. More than just a thorough history, the file provides wonderful color to an outstanding and truly unique vehicle.
LML/506 represents a special opportunity to acquire a coachbuilt Aston Martin of quality and distinction. Given its attractive open Bertone coachwork, fascinating provenance, and restoration, this Aston Martin is a very special example of the DB2/4—one that is worthy of serious consideration.