Aston Martin has produced tons of gorgeous cars over its 110-year lifespan, but many of the coolest Astons were actually designed by coachbuilders like Bertone, Ghia, Vignale and Zagato. At RM Sotheby’s upcoming Luxury Week sale in New York City, the auction house is offering up one of the rarest and most beautiful Aston Martins of all time: a 1954 Bertone DB2/4 Coupe.
Indiana businessman Stanley H. “Wacky” Arnolt II is to thank for the existence of this car. In 1952 he commissioned Italian design house Bertone (one of my personal favorites) to build a series of cars based on the MG TD that could be sold through his Chicago showroom – with his name attached, of course. These Arnolt-MGs were followed by Bertone versions of Alfa Romeos, Bristols and Bentleys, as well as seven Aston Martins.
Bertone worked its magic on the interior, too. The simple dashboard has shades of Mercedes 300SL, with prominent gauge pod and a thin metal accent panel running the length of the dash that’s punctuated by a handful of switches and an Aston Martin badge. In contrast to the body color bits on the dash and doors, the seats and door panels are covered in lovely beige leather with cream accents, and all of the carpeting is matching beige. This is strictly a two-seater, with a parcel shelf behind the front seats.
Apparently, LML/765 was intended to kick off a run of other Bertone-bodied coupes, but Aston Martin refused to give Bertone more chassis to use. Bertone displayed the car at the Turin Motor Show in 1957 and 1958, first painted in white and then in blue. The coachbuilding house also borrowed it back from its owner in the hopes of changing Aston’s mind and convincing the British brand to let Bertone develop the DB4, but that contract went to Touring instead.
The car came to the U.S. in 1976 and passed through the hands of a few owners. One owner in Illinois gave LML/765 a cosmetic restoration, then under the eleven-year ownership of it by the Blackhawk Collection that began in 1987 it was subjected to a no-expense-spared mechanical restoration. The current owner purchased the car in 2019, and it underwent a full Concours-level restoration to the tune of $800,000, bringing it back to its original blue paint color.
Traces of the original paint were found below the headlight bezels and in the trunk, and to fix modifications that were made over the years, the car was also fitted with the correct bumpers, taillights, hood trim, and interior hardware – all of which had to be newly fabricated. The original engine is still fitted, and it was rebuilt to higher-output specs with upgraded camshafts, compression, oil system and valves. The finished car made its debut at the 2023 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won first in its class.
The RM sale is happening this Friday, December 8, and the auction house has given the Bertone DB2/4 an estimate of $1.2 million to $1.6 million. It comes with a file full of restoration photographs and documents, plus other important bits of historical info. LML/765 has already been invited to compete at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in May 2024, so the new owner can hit the ground running and enjoy this wonderful machine.
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