1959 Aston Martin DB4 4.2-Litre Sports Saloon Registration no. XXH 880 Chassis no. DB4/146/R Engine no. 370/153
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. Classically proportioned and instantly recognisable from the moment of its introduction, the Touring-styled DB4 established a look that would survive, with only minor revisions, until 1970. 'Following in the classic tradition of close-coupled sports saloons, the 3.7-litre DB4 Aston Martin carries orthodox modernity to its highest pitch. A luxurious two-seat saloon which can carry four adults when necessary, it recorded almost 140mph as a two-way mean speed over the measured mile. Yet we were able to record acceleration figures from 10mph in the same gear ratio,' reported The Motor magazine. That the DB4 was able to manifest this rare combination of unrestrained high performance and civilised docility was down to its magnificent engine. A new design by Tadek Marek, the DB4's all-alloy, twin-overhead-camshaft six featured 'square' bore and stroke dimensions of 92mm for a displacement of 3,670cc and developed its maximum output of 240bhp at 5,500rpm. The David Brown gearbox was a new four-speed all-synchromesh unit. An immensely strong platform-type chassis replaced the DB2/4's multi-tubular spaceframe, the latter being considered incompatible with Touring's Superleggera body construction that employed its own lightweight tubular structure to support the aluminium-alloy body panels. The DB2/4's trailing-link independent front suspension gave way to unequal-length wishbones while at the rear the DB4 sported a live axle located by a Watts linkage instead of its predecessor's Panhard rod. The DB4's peerless credentials as a Grand Routier were summed up thus by The Motor: 'Performance, controllability and comfort have been combined in the Aston Martin DB4 to make it a highly desirable car: one in which long journeys can be completed very quickly indeed with the minimum of risk or discomfort and the maximum of pleasure.' Manufactured between October 1958 and June 1963, the DB4 developed through no fewer than five series. However, it should be noted that this 'series' designation was never used by the factory but has been adopted retrospectively by various authorities, including the AMOC, to make sense of the major changes made to the model. The first series had already undergone a number of improvements, including the fitting of heavy-duty bumpers after the first 50 cars, before the second series arrived in January 1960. A front-hinged bonnet, bigger brake calipers and an enlarged sump were the major changes made on the Series II, while the third series featured separate rear lights, two bonnet stays and a host of improvements to the interior fittings. Manufactured between September 1961 and October 1962, the fourth series was readily distinguishable by its new grille with seven vertical bars, shallower bonnet intake and recessed rear lights, while the final, fifth, series was built on a wheelbase lengthened by 3.5" to 15' (allowing for increased leg room and a larger boot) and gained 15"-daimeter wheels, an electric radiator fan and the DB4GT-type instrument panel. This early DB4 was delivered on 22nd October 1959 via Aston Martin agents, Brooklands to Messrs H Dawson Sons & Co (Export) Ltd, of London EC2 and first registered 'XXH 880'. The accompanying copy build sheets record the original colour scheme as grey with similar interior, and list numerous services up to June 1962 at 4,905 miles (the speedometer was changed in March 1960 at 13,265 miles). At some time the car was exported to the Middle East, returning to the UK circa 1990, and there are no records available relating to its time abroad. Since it returned home the Aston's former keepers have included Ross Collins, of Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire (1990), George Cooke, of Goudhurst, Kent (1995) and Christopher Lloyd, of London W2 (1999). The current vendor, a prominent heart surgeon, purchased the car in December 2001 and for the past nine years has used it for his daily drive to work. 'DB4/146/R' comes with a detailed presentation file prepared by famous marque specialists, R S Williams Ltd, who have been responsible for almost all of its maintenance since 1996. The earliest of the numerous bills on file dates from that year and records an engine rebuild by RSW costing £8,000. Other major works include overhauling the suspension, fitting Koni shock absorbers, reconditioning the gearbox, fitting a DB7-type limited-slip differential and RSW up-rated anti-roll bar, and another engine rebuild by RSW to 4.2-litre specification incorporating Cosworth pistons and 45DCOE carburettors (dynamometer test sheet available). Only 9,000 miles have been covered since RSW upgraded/rebuilt the engine in 2004, since when the car has continued to benefit from regular maintenance by them, its most recent service being carried out in June 2010. In total, there are bills on file dating back to 1996 amounting to in excess of £96,000. As one would expect given this most fastidious, 'no expense spared' approach to its care and maintenance, 'DB4/146/R' is in superb condition mechanically, although it would be fair to say that the car would benefit from a repaint and other cosmetic refurbishment. Finished in British Racing Green with tan leather interior, this much-loved Aston Martin DB4 is offered with the aforementioned RSW history file, current MoT/tax and Swansea V5 registration document. (It should be noted that although they are not illustrated, the front/rear bumpers do come with the car).