The Forgotten Hero

20 October 2022

Without the Aston Martin DB3S, Aston Martin’s final victory at Le Mans in 1959 with the DBR1 would not have happened.

The Aston Martin DB3S is a sports racing car that Aston Martin built. Following the failure of the heavy and uncompetitive Aston Martin DB3 designed by Eberan Eberhorst. Introduced in 1953, the DB3S proved significantly more successful than the Aston Martin DB3.

What a largely unsung hero of the sport took that unprepossessing raw material and turned it into a car that made Aston Martin a credible force in global motorsport for the first time should never be overlooked.

The DB3S was the car that gave Aston Martin the confidence that it could cut it with the best, and that confidence enabled Aston Martin to go further still with the design of the DBR1, the car that finally delivered Le Mans and the title.

When it appeared in 1953, it won every race it entered; unfortunately, 1954 was less successful, and 1955 was far better. The DB3S became the car to beat in domestic sports car racing.

By 1956 the light of the DB3S had started to fade. Partly through age, partially because Aston had switched focus to the DBR1 with its lightweight spaceframe construction.

But its contribution is evident if you look at where Aston Martin was before and after the DB3S. Before the DB3S, Aston Martin had never won a premier league sports car race, and the DB3S took second at Le Mans three times in four years.

By 1956 the design was starting to show its age, and Astons were putting its resources into developing the new DBR1.

The DBR1 now took over as Astons’ leading sports racer, but there was one last swan song for the DB3S in the hands of the Whitehead brothers at Le Mans in 1958 with a second place after all the works DBR1s failed to finish.

It is probably fair to say the DB3S has as good a claim to being the most important Aston Martin racing car as the DBR1.