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End of the road: Aston Martin DB1 among 600 classic cars facing extinction


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End of the road: Aston Martin DB1 among 600 classic cars facing extinction

The first DB-badged Aston Martin is one of a number of legendary classic cars which is on the brink of extinction.

According to latest figures from the Department of Transport, the Aston DB1 – the first sports car to be manufactured by Aston Martin under owner David Brown - is among more than 600 vehicles whose circulation is dwindling on Britain’s roads.

The DB1 was launched in 1948 as a two-litre sports car and debuted at the London Motor Show in Earl’s Court. It was based on the Aston Martin Atom – the car which entrepreneur Brown, after driving, is said to have convinced him to buy the company. The Atom is on display at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

Not long after he bought the Aston Martin, Brown, who died in 1993, is understood to have instructed work to begin on the DB1 and a prototype of the car was subsequently entered into the Total Hours of 24 at Spa – an annual endurance race held in Belgium. The aim was to test the DB1’s durability – and it passed with flying colours as British racing drivers St John Horsfall and Leslie Johnson powered the car to victory.

Rebuilt for the London Motor Show, the DB1 Spa car was put up for sale but did not sell – it was subsequently restored and returned to the UK in 2006 after being kept in the Louwman Museum in the Netherlands.

Another version of the DB1 with a more conventional body and two-litre engine, four cylinder push rod engine, designed by Claude Hill, with a top speed of 93mph was also featured at the show. A unique feature of the car was it had a three-part grille and a compartment in one front wing for the spare wheel.

Aston Martin produced only 15 DB1’s in total, one of which was a sold as a single example chassis only. Three vehicles were built to special order for customers that required a soft top. There only thought to be nine now in existence. The DB1’s successor, the DB2, released in 1950, was only available as a hardtop. 

The fourth ever DB1 was bought by Aston Workshop in 2013 from a previous owner in Scotland who had left it decaying in a garage for three decades.  It was put on the market for £99,950 but a mint condition DB1 (pictured) could shift for more than £400,000.

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