A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £607,500
Aston Martin's post-war evolution took a major step forward with the launch of the DB4 in 1958. Classically proportioned, the beautiful, Touring-designed, body established an instantly recognisable look that would stand the marque in good stead until 1970. The engine was still an all-alloy, twin-overhead-camshaft, six but the old W O Bentley-supervised 3.0-litre unit had been superseded by a new design from the pen of Tadek Marek. The new 3,670cc straight-six developed 240bhp at 5,500rpm and the David Brown gearbox was an all-new, four-speed all-synchromesh design.
Five distinct Series were built as the DB4 gradually metamorphosed into the DB5 which was introduced in July 1963. The new 5 boasted an enlarged 4.0-litre engine which had seen service initially powering the four-door Lagonda Rapide of 1961 and, having proven itself reliable, was subtly modified to suit the sporting aspirations of Aston's new flagship. Equipped with three SU carburettors, the 400 engine produced 282bhp at 5,500rpm and was mated to a four-speed/overdrive gearbox, a proper ZF five-speed unit becoming standard later.
The DB5's distinctive cowled headlamps had first appeared on the DB4GT and the newcomer was the same size as the lengthened, Series V DB4. Outwardly there was little to distinguish the DB5 from the last of the DB4s apart from twin fuel filler caps, although these had already appeared on some of the earlier cars. Beneath the skin, however, there were numerous improvements including alternator electrics, Girling disc brakes instead of Dunlops, Sundym glass, electric windows and an oil pressure gauge as standard equipment.
This very special, right-hand drive, DB5 was supplied through the Eton Motor Group on the 29/11/1965 finished in in Silver Birch with a red interior, the colour combination it wears today. Studying the impressive history file it is clear 2249/R has had a fascinating history having been owned by a number of larger-than-life Aston enthusiasts and looked after by some of the best in the business.
After spending time in Germany during the 1980's and most of the 1990's (there are numerous items of correspondence on file from previous German owners including registration documents) the DB5 returned to the UK in 1997 and was sold by Desmond Smail to a Mr Colin Stone in 1998. Mr Stone is a very well respected businessman, perhaps best known as the former MD of Guinness and Burger King UK. He owned 2249/R for the next 14 years and used the services of respected marque specialists, DLS Smail, to look after the car whilst in his ownership. At the time of his purchase, the DB5 was finished in dark blue and the decision was taken to return it to its original Silver Birch. The car's extensive history file contains details of this colour change and there are a host of invoices and much correspondence on file documenting all the expenditure that has been lavished on this car over the years.
After 14 years of ownership, Des Smail sold the car, on behalf of Mr Stone to a Mr David Irving who owned the car until late 2013. Whilst in his tenure, Aston Engineering were commissioned to carry out a full engine rebuild to a 4.2-litre, lead-free specification. The decision was taken at the time to use a replacement engine block, however, Mr Irving wisely retained the original (the story of this continues later on).
2013 was a busy year for LBH 651C as, after its engine rebuild, Des Smail, on behalf of the owner, organised for this actual car to be featured by the Royal Mail on a special edition of postage stamps produced to celebrate “The best in British car manufacturing”. In the aforementioned history file is an official set of this limited edition ‘British Auto Legends’ stamps that were issued to celebrate the “The tales of human endeavour, boundary-pushing innovation and design artistry in the British Motor industry”.
Having been admired by everyone who had licked a stamp, LBH 651C was sold in late 2013 to the former Radio 2 Breakfast Show presenter, Chris Evans, who is a passionate car collector and well known for his remarkable collection of wonderful classics. Chris owned the car for a year at which point it was then sold it to our private vendor in December 2014.
During our vendor's ownership, we are informed that, in the interests of authenticity, he managed to locate the original engine block, repair it, and rebuild the original engine. Our vendor is a passionate Australian collector but kept the car in the UK and during his regular visits to England would use it for weekends in Norfolk and the Peak District along with playing an active part in the fund-raising Hope Classic Rally for three years up until 2017.
After four and a bit years of joyful private ownership, the time has now come for someone else to experience the delights of DB5 motoring. Considering the special provenance of this particular example along with its amazing condition (that really needs to be seen in the metal) Silverstone Auctions are very proud to offer one of the finest examples of the most famous of the James Bond Aston Martins.