1961 Aston Martin DB4GT
Chassis no. DB4/GT/0144/L
Engine no. 370/0144/GT
Launched at the London Motor Show in 1958, the Aston Martin DB4 emphatically demonstrated that a British manufacturer could better the Italians at their own game when it came to constructing the ultimate Gran Turismo. Its specification included a completely new steel platform chassis with disc brakes all round, and a freshly developed twin-cam six-cylinder engine, all clothed in a perfectly proportioned aluminium body designed by Touring of Milan. Overall, the DB4 was state-of-the-art for its time, a masterpiece of robust British engineering combined with exquisite Italian styling.
Engineered under the watchful eye of Harold Beech, the immensely strong platform-type chassis replaced the DB2/4's multi-tubular spaceframe, the latter being considered incompatible with Touring's Superleggera body construction which employed its own lightweight tubular structure to support the hand-formed aluminium-alloy body panels. The DB2/4's trailing-link ifs gave way to unequal-length wishbones, while at the rear the DB4 sported a live axle located by Watts linkage instead of its predecessor's Panhard rod.
The new car's competition potential had been recognised from the outset, and the factory lost no time in developing a lightweight version suitable for racing, the resulting DB4GT debuting at the 1959 London Motor Show. The model had already been proven in competition earlier that year when the prototype (DP/199) driven by Stirling Moss won its first race at Silverstone. Extensive modifications to the standard car took 5" out of the wheelbase and replaced the rear seats with a luggage platform on all but a small number of cars. Together with lighter, 18-gauge bodywork, these changes reduced the car's weight by around 200lb (91kg).
The GT used a tuned engine which, equipped with a twin-plug cylinder head and triple Weber 45DCOE carburettors, produced a claimed 302bhp at 6,000rpm, a useful increase over the standard car's claimed 240bhp. Maximum speed, of course, depended on overall gearing, but 153mph was achieved during testing with a 0-60mph time of 6.1 seconds recorded. The DB4 was also one of the first cars to go from standstill to 100mph and then brake to a dead stop on under 20 seconds, a tribute, in art, to its up-rated Girling brakes as used on Aston Martin's competition sports racers of the era.
Viewed from the front, the GT was readily distinguishable by its faired-in headlamps with Perspex covers, a feature later made standard on the DB5 and DB6. The rear screen and quarter windows also were made of Perspex on many examples; bumper over-riders were deleted and the wind-down windows were frame-less within the doors. Twin, quick-release, Monza competition fuel fillers were added atop the rear wings, leading to a large-capacity fuel tank mounted flat in the boot. GTs were fitted as standard with lightweight Borrani 42-spoke wire wheels with alloy rims and three-ear 'knock-offs'.
The interior was trimmed to full Aston Martin road car specification, with fine Connolly leather upholstery and deep-pile Wilton carpeting. The evocative instrument binnacle on the GT benefited from the addition of an oil temperature gauge to the standard array.
DB4GTs offered a strong challenge to the prevailing Ferrari dominance in GT racing, examples entered by the works and John Ogier's Essex Racing Stable enjoying numerous victories. Driven by the likes of Roy Salvadori, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark and Innes Ireland, the DB4GT earned its stripes every day on the racing circuit. In December 1959, at the Bahamas Speed Week, Stirling Moss won driving a standard customer DB4GT 'borrowed' back by the works following the demise of Moss's intended DBR2! The DB4GT was indeed a true dual-purpose car, equally at ease on both the circuit and Grand Tour
DB4GT chassis number ''0144/L' is one of only 30 of its kind produced with lefthand drive, and was originally delivered to a Mr Abreu, of Geneva, Switzerland on 4th August 1961 via Swiss main agents Garage Patthey. Although there is no documented early racing history for this car, it is one of two known to have been retro-fitted in period with the later, DB6-style tail (undertaken by Italian coachbuilder Frua) the other being '0148/R'. The second owner, from 1970, is identified as Mr Robin Tait, also of Geneva and, later, Paris. Mr Tait at one time apparently transferred ownership to a business associate who transported the car to Virginia and back again to Paris, whereupon Mr Tait reassumed ownership through the 1980s.
In 1990 the car was purchased by well-known collector William 'Chip' Connors II, who embarked upon a comprehensive restoration that included returning the tail to its original DB4GT specification. The engine was rebuilt (at 57,000 kilometres) to 'un-leaded' specification, re-bored and fitted with new pistons. The gearbox is a period-fitted ZF five-speed unit. '0144/L' has been repainted in an attractive shade of Aston Racing Green with racing stripe in Swiss colours resembling the period livery of the DB4GT prototype 'DP/199' driven at Le Mans in 1959 by Swiss pilotes Patthey and Calderari. Complemented by black leather trim and fresh Wilton carpeting, the car's visual impact reflects the care and considerable expense of its restoration (said to cost $500,000), much of which is photographically documented.
Despite its tremendous rarity and value, the DB4GT remains a popular entrant at major historic racing events such as the Goodwood Revival and the numerous (and highly competitive) Aston Martin Owners Club Championship race meetings in the UK. And the DB4GT has proven Grand for Touring over 1,000 miles with power and comfort, often winning or placing in many of the long-distance events which have become popular in recent years, such as the Colorado Grand, Copperstate 1000, California Mille and New England Tour 1000. Indeed, in 1997 this DB4GT was sold to Mr W R Reiss, who proved its robust nature on the road by competing in and finishing the Colorado Grand 1000. Today the car is immaculately presented with a genuine 65,000 miles recorded. It is offered with BMIHT Heritage Certificate, authentic workshop manual, complete and tidy tool-roll, service history sine restoration and comprehensive document book. As such, it represents a rare opportunity to acquire a milestone GT with stunning attributes and a fully documented ownership history.
Aston Martin built a mere 75 DB4GTs (plus another 19 Zagato-bodied variants, one Bertone-bodied special and five 'Team' or 'Development Project' GTs). Of the 75 examples, 45 were supplied in righthand drive form and 30 were lefthand drive. Amongst the most beloved of all Astons, the DB4GT remains unmatched for its unique combination of performance and roadability.
Internet users may view a 360-degree image of the car at: