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  Aston Martin DB3S      

  Article Image gallery (171) Chassis (5) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1953 - 1957
Numbers built:31 (All versions)
Designed by:Frank Feeley for Aston Martin Lagonda
Predecessor:Aston Martin DB3 Spider
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 24, 2019
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Click here to download printer friendly versionShortly after acquiring the company in 1948, Aston Martin owner David Brown set his sights on winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To this end, he hired former Auto Union designer Eberan von Eberhorst. The first purpose-built Aston Martin competition car, the DB3, was ready in the fall of 1951. It was raced throughout the 1952 season but, apart from some rare exceptions, it was not competitive.

One of Aston Martin's other engineers, A.G. "William" Watson recognised the weaknesses in the DB3's design. To fast-track the design changes Watson turned directly to Aston Martin competition director John Wyer in order to convince Brown to set aside the design of his highly acclaimed and hugely experienced chief designer. The plea was successful and the first, heavily revised DB3S was ready for its first race in May of 1953.

While similar in design, the DB3S featured a more compact version of the tubular chassis. Suspension was through trailing links at the front while the rear-end featured a DeDion axle. The DB3's straight six engine was bored to raise the displacement to just under three litres. Fitted with three twin-choke Weber carburettors, the enlarged engine was good for 182 bhp. By the end of the DB3S' career, a twin-spark version of the engine produced as much as 225 bhp.

The most obvious change was the all-new, aluminium bodywork penned by in-house stylist Frank Feeley, who had also been responsible for the lines of the road-going DB2. Feeley's svelte lines were quite a departure from the slab-sided DB3 design. The DB3S featured a refined version of the humped oval grille, while the scalloped sides actually preceded the pontoon-fendered Ferrari 250 TR by quite a few years.

The lighter and more slippery DB3S won at its Charterhall debut in May of 1953 in the hands of Reg Parnell. The next outing was at Le Mans, where the two examples were forced to retire with accident damage and ignition failure respectively. It was a rare failure for the DB3S in 1953 as it would go on to win the Tourist Trophy, Goodwood Nine Hours and British Empire Trophy.

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  Article Image gallery (171) Chassis (5) Specifications