Fifties Finesse: Aston Martin DB2 Coupé

Aston Martin DB2 CoupéJust after the Second World War, David Brown bought Aston Martin and the first-ever DB (the initials taken, obviously enough, from Brown's own initials) was created. With its combination of 1940s vintage and now-iconic mid-century styling, the DB2 quickly established itself as a design classic. Launched in New York, Brown's ambition for the DB badges was to realise Aston Martin's racing potential, and success arrived early - in the 1950 LeMans race, the DB2 finished 5th overall. Just as importantly, the DB2 laid the foundations for its successor, the DBr3, which ultimately triumphed overall at LeMans.

Few DB2s remain - just 411 were made - and those that do are in high-demand. And after spending an afternoon in the driving seat of one, it's easy to see why. For starters, the outer shell is stunning. From front-on, the vintage elements are plain to see: there's the elegant barred nose, quaint circular headlamps and the gently, almost stately aerodynamic curves of the hood. At the back-end, a more modern, rounded shape firmly roots the car in that ever-popular and ever-stylish mid-century era.

James Bond, ever a fan of an Aston Martin, never drove one of these - but certainly, it's a car plainly built to appeal to any discerning man or woman of adventure. In 1950, the car reached 116mph in testing amazing - a truly astounding speed for a car of that era.

The interior is unbearably stylish too, and distinctly British with it. There are oak details, a small and refined dashboard and classic tan leather seats. Everything is elegant, never ostentatious. As with the exterior, there is a confidence to all the design decisions - nothing shouts any louder than it needs to.

And what about the way it drives? The legendary W.O. Bentley twin-cam 2580cc straight six engine inside is certainly powerful but, again, it is not a showy sort of power. The potential for out-and-out speed is always just below the surface, but behind the wheel, the car inspires a certain calm. It is a car that could roar and growl about the place, but instead prefers to turn heads in a less brazen fashion.

It's no surprise to discover that Victor Gauntlet, the serial entrepreneur who rescued the brand in the seventies, regularly drove a DB2. After an hour or two steering it around the roads of its birthplace in Newport Pagnall, we're just as convinced of the DB2 Coupé's charms. Looking and driving as fantastically as it does, how could anybody not be?