Discovering your car’s famous first owner
by Brian Tyrer
While reading the Porter Profiles book, Jaguar XK 120 – The Story of 660725, Brian Tyrer discovered an interesting link between his own Aston Martin DB2 and Chan Lye Choon, the first owner of 660725.
I was interested to read that the car (660725) was originally ordered by Chan Lye Choon, a Singaporean businessman, as one of two 1951 XK 120 export-specification cars. It was subsequently sold to Bob Henderson. I don’t know what happened to the other XK120, just that it was silver with a red interior.
As well as a 1954 XK 120, I also own a 1952 Aston Martin DB2. And here is the connection: this particular DB2 was ordered by Chan Lye Choon and was despatched by Aston Martin to Eastern Auto Company Ltd of Singapore in December 1952. Apparently, Chan had persuaded David Brown of Aston Martin to appoint Eastern Auto as the official dealers for Aston Martin and Lagonda. The rumour is that he only ever sold two Astons, both to himself. One was my DB2 and the other was the DB3S that replaced it.
Above: Chan Lye Choon competing in a Sprint race with the Aston Martin DB2 (image provided by Brian Tyrer)
He competed with the DB2 in races and speed trials during 1953/4 and then returned it to Aston Martin when he bought a DB3S, number 106, which is also mentioned in the book, and which he raced extensively in Singapore and Malaysia.
Above: DB2 brings local motorsport success for Chan brothers Lye Choon and Lye Huat (image provided by Brian Tyrer)
Lye Choon’s father, Swee Hong, co-founded the Eastern Auto Company Ltd in Singapore. The business became well-known as a successful importer and distributor of Citroën cars, notably the Traction Avant Light 15. After his father died in 1950, Lye Choon took over management of the business. This allowed him to indulge in his other passion: motor racing, where he’d go on to win the 1958 Macao Grand Prix at the wheel of his DB3S.