Villa d'Este

21 May 2011

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Lot 123

1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Competition Spider by Bertone

  • Chassis no. LML/507
  • Engine no. VB6J89

Sold for €672.000


140 bhp 2,922 cc Vantage-specification DOHC inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with coil springs and trailing arms, live axle rear suspension on coil springs, with trailing arms and Panhard rod, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,515 mm (99")



- One of three built and the only known unrestored “survivor”

- The only Bertone-bodied Aston Martin with known racing history

- Wonderful 15,000-mile original example with exceptional patina

- Single ownership for 38 years



S.H. “Wacky” Arnolt was an entrepreneur with an uncanny ability to spot highly profitable business opportunities. After World War II, he obtained the Chicago-area distribution rights for Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Bristol, MG, Riley and Morris automobiles. While some marques proved more successful in the US market than others, within only five years’ time, “Wacky” was a multi-millionaire and planned to expand his growing business into automobile construction.



Arnolt and the Bertone-bodied Aston Martin



Part of Arnolt’s talent was an innate knowledge of what would in fact sell, and at the 1952 Turin Auto Salon, he met Nuccio Bertone. Bertone, rich in creativity and expertise but with little available cash, presented two original concepts based on used MG TD chassis that caught Arnolt’s attention. Arnolt’s second major investment was to hire the best design talent he could find – Franco Scaglione, whose design submission was chosen over one penned by another Italian design luminary, Giovanni Michelotti.

Arnolt purchased five sequentially numbered Aston Martin DB 2/4 chassis in 1953, and this car, chassis number LML/507, was the last of this batch. While the two even-numbered chassis received “Deluxe” bodywork with bumpers, taller windscreens and more upscale trim, the three odd-numbered chassis, numbered 503, 505 and 507, were fitted with more elemental competition spider bodywork. As completed, however, the result was nothing short of stunning – a lightweight racing roadster with coachwork fitted so closely to the chassis that a crease was required running down the bonnet in order to clear the long-stroke, 3.0-litre Aston Martin inline six-cylinder engine. From the car’s headlamps, fully peaked front fenders flowed back to aggressively-curved rear fenders, with the Bertone coachwork perfectly cloaking the 99-inch DB 2/4 chassis and its highly sophisticated underpinnings.



Elegant yet aggressive and purposeful, Arnolt’s Scaglione-designed car bore a strong resemblance to Aston Martin’s own DB3S competition roadsters of the period but with a flowing purity of line that only such an inspired Italian designer as Scaglione could possibly deliver. It was quickly apparent that with its involvement with Arnolt, Aston Martin had in fact created a competitor more than it had a client. Perhaps Arnolt’s use of “Arnolt Aston Martin” badging for the cars further shortened Newport Pagnell’s patience with their American distributor. At any rate, the storied English marque flatly refused to sell Arnolt or Bertone any more of its DB 2/4 chassis, abruptly halting the DB 2/4-based project, but not before Arnolt managed to secure at least two or possibly three more chassis, depending on the source, with Touring and Zagato as the coachbuilders of these cars.



Chassis no. LML/507



The wonderful example offered here, LML/507, the last of Arnolt’s three Bertone-bodied DB 2/4 competition spiders, was shipped to the United States upon completion on board the RMS Mauretania, arriving on 26 January, 1954, well in advance of its appearance at the Chicago Motor Show, where its debut there created a sensation. Shortly thereafter, LML/507 is reported to have been sold to Phil Stewart, who was one of Arnolt’s “works” racing drivers during the era. LML/507 was then sold to Carl Kiekhaefer, the famed owner of Mercury Marine, a major manufacturer of outboard engines for boats that continues to operate successfully today.



Kiekhaefer was also the founder of what racing historians regard as the first professional stock-car racing team in NASCAR. Among Kiekhaefer’s many racing achievements, he won the NASCAR championship over two consecutive years in 1955 and 1956. Reportedly, Mr. Kiekhaefer even drove LML/507 at a number of SCCA-sanctioned road races during the 1950s.

Next, Peter Luan acquired LML/507 in April 1958 at the Roewardt-Thomson car dealership in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Mr. Luan enjoyed his coachbuilt Arnolt, including several entries in local races during the late 1950s. He retained LML/507 until 1969, when it was sold to a known Midwestern collector, who also campaigned the car in a variety of vintage-racing events and owned the car for 38 years.



When the current owner acquired LML/507, it took pride of place within his well-respected and renowned private Aston Martin collection.

As offered today, LML/507 has travelled fewer than 15,000 miles over the past 55-plus years, and it remains truly remarkable throughout, with a startling patina of originality and authenticity that only an unrestored car such as this can continue to offer. In fact, LML/507 proudly stands alone in its originality, since the two other Arnolt-Aston competition spiders have already been completely restored during their respective lifetimes.



Among its wonderful original features, one cannot help but marvel at the beautifully patinated upholstery, the original tonneau and the original spark-plug wires, as well as the easily visible spot welds and ripples in the hand-hammered Bertone body panels so indicative of an irreplaceably singular, hand-built car as this. Among its many highlights, LML/507 includes aircraft-style seatbelts, a Raydyot rear-view mirror, painted wire-spoke wheels, Dunlop Roadspeed tyres and dash plaques from late-1950s and mid-1980s hillclimbs.



Today, it is immediately apparent that this Arnolt-Aston DB2/4 Competition Spyder, LML/507, may well be the perfect collector car. Its lightweight, high performance and sublime driving dynamics, even by today’s standards, will render it competitive in any serious vintage racing event and the finest long-distance rallies and tours. This, before one considers its fascinating history, sleek, hand-built Bertone coachwork and Franco Scaglione design heritage. LML/507 is a competition roadster of the highest calibre, in stunningly preserved and unrestored presentation, blessed with an irreplaceable patina of originality.



ITALIANTEXT



140 cv, motore sei cilindri in linea di 2.922 cc con doppio albero a camme in testa e specifiche Vantage, cambio manuale a quattro marce, sospensione anteriore a ruote indipendenti, assale rigido posteriore, freni a tamburo con comando idraulico. Passo: 2.515 mm.



- Una delle tre costruite e la sola conosciuta in condizioni originali

- La sola Aston Martin carrozzata da Zagato con una storia di corse

- Meraviglioso esemplare originale con solo 15.000 miglia e una patina eccezionale

- Per 38 anni nella stessa proprietà



S.H. “Wacky” Arnolt era un imprenditore con un'inquietante abilità nell'individuare opportunità negli affari. Dopo la Seconda Guerra Mondiale, ottenne i diritti di distribuzione per l'area di Chicago per le automobili Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Bristol, MG, Riley e Morris. Anche se alcune marche si rivelarono avere più successo sul mercato statunitense che altre, in soli cinque anni “Wacky” divenne multimilionario e decise di espandere i suoi crescenti interessi nella costruzione di automobili.



Arnolt e le Aston Martin carozzate Bertone



Una caratteristica del talento di Arnolt era la consapevolezza innata di ciò che si sarebbe venduto e al Salone di Torino del 1952 conobbe Nuccio Bertone. Questi, ricco di creatività e abilità ma non altrettanto di mezzi finanziari, presentava due originali concept car basate su telai MG TD usati, che catturarono l'attenzione di Arnolt. Il secondo maggiore investimento di Arnolt fu assumere lo stilista di maggiore talento che potesse trovare, Franco Scaglione, la cui proposta di stile fu scelta in concorrenza a quella presentata dall'altra stella italiano del design, Giovanni Michelotti.

Nel 1953, Arnolt acquisto cinque telai Aston Martin DB 2/4, con numerazione in sequenza, dei quali LML/507 era l'ultimo del gruppo. Mentre i due telai con numero pari ricevettero carrozzerie “Deluxe” con paraurti, parabrezza più alto e finiture più curate, i tre telai con numerazione dispari (503, 505 e 507) furono dotati di più spartane carrozzerie spider da competizione. Alla fine, comunque, il risultato fu sbalorditivo, un leggero roadster da corsa con la carrozzeria montata così vicino al telaio che fu necessario una gobba lungo il cofano per poter alloggiare il motore Aston Martin 6 cilindri in linea di 3 litri a corsa lunga. Gli appuntiti parafanghi anteriori rifluivano dai fanali verso i parafanghi posteriori aggressivamente ricurvi, con la carrozzeria di Bertone che vestiva perfettamente il telaio della DB 2/4, con passo di 2.515 mm, e la sua sofisticatissima meccanica.



Elegante eppure aggressiva e grintosa, la vettura di Arnolt disegnata da Scaglione aveva una forte somiglianza con la contemporanea Aston Martin DB3S roadster competizione della casa, ma con una grande purezza di linee che solamente uno stilista italiano geniale come Scaglione poteva concepire. Fu presto evidente che legandosi ad Arnolt, la Aston Martin si era in effetti ritrovata più con un concorrente che con un cliente e probabilmente l'uso da parte di Arnolt dello stemma “Arnolt Aston Martin” sulle vetture aveva ulteriormente intaccato la pazienza dei dirigenti di Newport Pagnell nei confronti del loro distributore americano. In ogni caso, la storica marca inglese si rifiutò di vendere altri telai DB 2/4 a Arnolt o a Bertone, interrompendo bruscamente il progetto basato sulla DB 2/4, ma non prima che Arnolt riuscisse ad assicurarsi almeno altri due telai o forse tre (a seconda delle fonti), che furono carrozzati dalla Touring e da Zagato.



Il telaio LML/507



Il magnifico esemplare offerto, la LML/507, l'ultimo dei tre spider competizione DB 2/4 di Arnolt carrozzati da Bertone, appena completato venne spedito, a bordo della RMS Mauretania, negli Stati Uniti, dove giunse il 26 gennaio 1954, ben prima della sua presentazione al Salone di Chicago, dove il suo debutto creò un effetto sensazionale. La LML/507 fu venduta poco dopo a Phil Stewart, all'epoca uno dei piloti "ufficiali" di Arnolt. La vettura passò poi a Carl Kiekhaefer, il famoso proprietario della Mercury Marine, uno dei grandi produttori di motori fuoribordo per motoscafi che tuttora continua ad operare con successo.



Kiekhaefer fu anche il fondatore di quella che gli storici delle corse automobilistiche considerano la prima scuderia professionale per le corse di vetture di serie della NASCAR. Fra i molti successi sportivi di Kiekhaefer, ci sono le due vittorie consecutive del campionato NASCAR nel 1955 e 1956. Da quanto viene riferito, Kiekhaefer guidò la LML/507 anche in numerose corse su strada della SCCA, durante gli anni Cinquanta.

A seguire, Peter Luan acquistò la LML/507 nell'aprile 1958 presso i commercianti di automobili Roewardt-Thomson di Sheboygan, nel Wisconsin. Egli si divertì con la sua Arnolt con carrozzeria speciale, utilizzandola anche in alcune corse locali alla fine degli anni Cinquanta e tenendola fino al 1969, quando la vendette ad un noto collezionista del Mid-West, che pure la utilizzò in numerose corse storiche e la tenne per 38 anni.



Quando l'attuale proprietario acquistò la LML/507, ebbe un posto di rilievo nell'ambito della sua collezione privata di Aston Martin, di tutto rispetto e ben nota.

Così come è offerta oggi, la LML/507 ha percorso meno di 15.000 miglia nei suoi oltre 55 anni, e rimane veramente straordinaria sotto ogni aspetto, con una sorprendente patina di originalità ed autenticità che solamente una vettura mai restaurata può offrire. Di fatto, la LML/507 è orgogliosamente unica nella sua originalità, poiché gli altri due Arnolt-Aston spider competizione sono già stati completamente restaurati durante la loro esistenza.



Fra le sue bellissime ed originali caratteristiche, non si può fare a meno di meravigliarsi per la sua tappezzeria, perfettamente patinata, per gli originali tonneau e i cavi delle candele, così come per i punti di saldatura e i rivetti in vista sulla carrozzeria di Bertone, indicativi di una incredibile vettura costruita a mano, come questa. Fra i molti particolari importanti della LML/507 si possono notare le cinture di sicurezza di tipo aeronautico, lo specchietto retrovisore Raydyot, i cerchi a raggi verniciati, i pneumatici Dunlop Roadspeed e le placchette sul cruscotto relative alle corse in salita dalla fine degli anni Cinquanta alla metà degli anni Ottanta.



Oggi è immediatamente evidente che questa Arnolt-Aston DB2/4 Spider Competizione, telaio LML/507, può ben essere la perfetta vettura da collezione. La leggerezza, le alte prestazioni e le eccellenti doti dinamiche la renderanno competitiva, anche per gli standard attuali, in ogni seria corsa storica e nei più importanti rally e viaggi di lunga durata. Questo, ancora prima di prendere in considerazione la sua affascinante storia, l'elegante carrozzeria di Bertone costruita a mano e il valore dello stile di Franco Scaglione. La LML/507 è un roadster competizione di altissimo livello, che si presenta stupefacentemente conservata, con la fortuna di possedere un'irriproducibile patina di originalità.

Addendum

Please note that this car is eligible for import into the UK at 5% VAT.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 212 894 1981
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more