Two years after the introduction of the DB2/4 MK II came the DB MK III. During the two-year production run of the Mark III between March 1957 and July 1959, 551 examples of all derivatives were built.
In 1956, John Wyer went on a world tour of Aston Martin dealers who were clamouring for a new car to sell. The DB4 was still two years from readiness and he returned to Feltham to create something more contemporary but which would be easy to get into production at Newport Pagnell where car production was to be centralised. He referred to it as a “pot boiler”.
The Mark III was launched at the Geneva Show in March 1957 and was available only for export until it was shown at the London Motor Show in October. It remained in production for about eight or nine months after the DB4 had been introduced.
The main change in the appearance of the car was the adoption of the elegantly shaped radiator opening found on the DB3S which gave the Mk III a more modern appearance and yet retained the essential features of the radiators of the past. The consequent compound curves of the front of the bonnet, can be traced, in one form or another, on all subsequent models up to and including the last of the V8 series (Virage etc.), the DB7, on to the V12 series of cars and the V8 Vantage introduced from 2005.
The higher roof was not so obvious as on the Mark II, as the chrome strip was omitted: chrome beading in the windscreen surround distinguished it from the original 2/4 model of 1953. The rear body was similar to the Mark II even down to the retention of the small rear lights on a few early cars, though in due course a lamp cluster from the contemporary Humber Hawk (and Alvis) gave the rear a cleaner appearance. Opening rear quarter lights (rear side windows) were fitted. The dashboard was updated with the binnacle shape mimicking the new nose and subsequently used in the DB4 and throughout the 1960s.
The engine was substantially re-engineered by Tadek Marek to update the LB6 design created from 1944 by Willie Watson for the postwar Lagonda. The piston layout was simplified and the engine now designated the DBA, which in standard specification was a 3 litre straight six with twin SU carburettors delivering 165bhp. or 178bhp with twin exhausts
There were improvements to both clutch and gearbox; Laycock overdrive on top gear became available and front disc brakes were standard rather than optional after the first 100 cars had been built, commencing at chassis ‘1401’. Despite an inevitable weight increase, the Mark III was faster than any of its predecessors with a top speed of 120mph.
PRODUCED SUB MODELS
Aston Martin made 551 DB Mk III's chassis between 1957 and 1959. There were 462 Saloons, 85 Drop-heads and 4 fixed head coupes, totalling 551 chassis built. Of these, two chassis numbered 1399 and 1400 were sent to Bertone in Italy in 1957 but returned unused in April 1959. It's unclear whether these two chassis were ever used to build complete cars.
The vast majority of cars, (486 of 551), featured the standard DBA engine spec with twin SU carburettors. Fourteen cars were fitted with the 'competition' DBB engine with triple Weber 35 DCO3 carburettors, high compression and high-lift camshafts giving a claimed 204bhp. Two cars were fitted with a race spec DBC engine fitted with triple Weber 45 DCO3 carburettors and even higher compression giving 214 bhp. Forty-nine cars were equipped with the DBD engine fitted with triple SU's giving 180bhp. The combination of engine specs and body formats is summarised in the table below.
Market in which first registered:
Of the 551 cars built, 271 were RHD and 280 were LHD. More than half were exported. 302 cars went to a total of 22 different export markets leaving 249 for the 'home market'. Of the exported cars 280 were left-hand drive and 22 right-hand drive. Research for the 40 years reunion in 1997 indicated at least 100 Mk III's were still in use in the UK.