Only 2 DBR2s built. In appearance, they were very similar to the DBR1 but physically larger. Under the skin, however, things were very different. The chassis were from the abandoned 1955 Lagonda V12 (Project 166) cars; the engines were (initially) of 3.7 litre capacity and of a type which was to go into the production DB4, and were fitted with a normal type 5 speed box (the DBR1 had a transaxle). These are cars elusive to my camera (I don’t seem to ever have taken a picture of either) but the fact is that their appearances in the UK have been relatively rare and, with the exception of 1958, were not exactly frequent when they were contemporary, either. There are however, one or two interesting stories around them which I will include in the Notes following the chassis histories.
1957 – Constructed on Lagonda chassis DP166/1 and fitted with engine no. RDP/5057/2, the car retired from Le Mans, was crashed in practice for the Belgium GP at Spa and finished 3rd at the International Trophy meeting at Silverstone (Cunningham- Reid).
1958 – Engine enlarged to 3.9 litres, won the Sussex Trophy at Goodwood (Moss) and the British Empire Trophy (Moss), in both races breaking the lap record. It then retired at Aintree (Brooks), came 5th at Silverstone (Brooks), and 3rd at Spa GP in May (Shelby). It was then used as practice car for Moss and Brooks at the Targa Florio. The engine was then further enlarged to 4.2 litres and sent to the U.S.A., on loan to Elisha Walker for George Constantine to drive. Constantine won at Lime Rock with a new lap record, won at Marlborough and again at Nassau (Governor’s Trophy).
1959 – In the hands of Constantine, the car competed in a substantial number of U.S.A.C and S.C.C.A events with many good placings, including 3 wins at Lime Rock, one at Montgomery and one at Thompson. As a result Constantine shared the U.S.A Sports Car Driver’s Championship. This car/driver combination also won the Nassau Trophy.
1960 – Sold to Bill Aston who registered it 778RPH and competed in a number of minor events albeit with a fair degree of success.
1962 – Acquired by R.H. Dennis who had the gull wing coupe body from DB3/6 fitted and drove it on the road for many years in this form. Now this I do have a very old colour negative of, taken at Silverstone in about 1967.
1975 – The original body was refitted and sent out to the U.S.A.
1975-79 - Completely rebuilt by Steve Griswold
1980 – 87 sporadic outings in America, The car returned to the UK sometime during 1987 and for the next few years had some very rare outings, including a couple in the Mille Miglia retro
1994 – 95 Raced by Steve O’Rourke.
At some stage the car was acquired by Peter Livanos but not sure when
1998 – Entered in the First Goodwood Revival by Hugo Investments where it finished 3rd in the Lavant Cup (Brian Redman)
Currently fitted with engine no. RDP/5057/1. Last known reg.no 2 VPE.
1957 - Constructed using Lagonda chassis DP166/2 and 3.7 litre engine no. RDP/5057/1.
It won first time out, at Silverstone (Salvadori) and was then sent out to Nassau where due to ignition problems it could only finish 24th in the Nassau TT (Moss) and then 4th in the Governor’s Trophy (Moss)
1958 – Engine enlarged to 3.9 litres. Car then finished 2nd in the Empire Trophy at Oulton Park (Brooks), 2nd at Aintree (Salvadori), 4th at Silverstone (Salvadori) and 2nd at Spa (Frere). Engine size increased to 4.2 litres and car then sent to U.S.A. again.
1959 - Raced with a few placings driven by Oker (I can’t be more specific than that at the moment since my sources disagree on the results) and won (by this time fitted with a twin plug head) the Governor’s Trophy at Nassau (Moss). Returned to the U.K
1960 – Sold to S.J. Diggory and registered 7 BXH. Driven for him by Halford and Escott.
1961 – Still owned by Diggory but driven at Goodwood by Hetreed
1962 – Driven twice by Diggory who won at Kirkistown, and then by Blumer who won twice at Charterhall
1973-78 – Rebuilt for D. F. Sadler by Barry Simpson
1981-82 – Campaigned occasionally by Harper and then Hart
1983-84 - Rebuilt back to 3.7litre
1985 – Entered into a number of concours (!) by Hart
Acquired by Victor Gauntlett during the late 80’s and then sold by auction in 1990 for £1.75million!
1994 - Appeared at Goodwood festival of Speed driven by Gillian Goldsmith
1995 – 96 – Driven in a few events by Draper (new owner?)
Current ownership or whereabouts not known to me!
Current engine no. RDP/5057/2. Last known reg.no. 7 BXH
1) It should be noted that at some stage during their careers the cars have swapped engines, although it could be argued that they each started out with the ‘wrong’ engine numerically speaking and now have the ‘right’ engine!
2) In 1957 DBR2/1 was virtually untested and for Le Mans was given to the Whitehead brothers whilst the leading works drivers were given the DBR1s. The brothers however discovered that they had a rather quick car on their hands, so rather than post times in practice that would alert the team, they were lifting off the throttle down the Mulsanne, so that it wouldn’t be taken from them and given to one of the quicker drivers. It could have been quicker still as the next note will show!
3) DBR2/1 was supposed to be giving out 286bhp for Le Mans but after the race was discovered to be giving only about 230bhp due to the fuel plumbing system hastily cobbled together on the bench for the six Weber 48DCOEs. It is little wonder that both the Whitehead brothers and John Wyer felt, with hindsight, that the car was capable of winning the race first time out. Of course that ignores the possibility of it failing for other reasons and the fact that the gearbox failed due to the filter getting blocked and throwing all its oil out! It was a missed opportunity as the race was limited to 3-litre cars for the following year.
4) Only two cars were ever able to take on the great Archie Scott-Brown in the ‘works’ Lister Jaguar with any prospect of beating him. One was another Lister Jaguar driven by Masten Gregory for Ecurie Ecosse, and the other, the DBR2. All were present at Archie’s final tragic race, at Spa, when in an immense duel with Gregory, which on this occasion left both DBR2s trailing, Archie had the accident which took his life.
5) Stirling Moss persuaded David Brown to enter a car for himself and Tony Brooks for the Targa Florio in 1958. The race car was to be a DBR1 but they also took DBR2/1 with them as the practice car. Apparently, Stirling took his wife, Katie, as passenger, on one practice lap in DBR2/1 and completed the lap in a time close to his 1955 lap record in the 300SLR! Just wonderful!
6) When DBR2/1 appeared at the 1998 Goodwood Revival meeting it sported a most ugly high roll over bar. However, that may not have been a particularly recent addition and was probably a legacy from time spent racing in America.
7) In twin plug head form, the engine in DBR2/2 was reputed to be giving 315bhp.
Sources:- AMOC, 'Aston Martin - The Post-War Competition Cars' by Anthony Pritchard, 'Racing with the David Brown Aston Martin' Volume 1, by John Wyer (with Chris Nixon) and the 1998 Goodwood Revival Race programme!