Aston Martin's Racing War Horse at Bonhams



An historic Aston Martin, driven to victory in the very first endurance race at Goodwood – the 1952 Goodwood 9-Hours – by renowned racer Peter Collins and co-driver Pat Griffith, is to return to the West Sussex circuit. It will mark the 70 years since the landmark event, and lead this year's Bonhams Revival Sale on Saturday 17 September.

The 1952 DB3 Works Team Sports-Racing Two-Seater, chassis #5 of only five Works cars, is a rare survivor, not just of Goodwood but of four of the world's most gruelling endurance events, having achieved a podium finish in the 1953 Sebring 12-Hours, as well as competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Mille Miglia.

The creation of Dr Robert Eberan von Eberhorst, co-designer of Professor Porsche's successful D-type Auto Unions, the new Aston was built for competition strength. The DB3 featured a welded tubular chassis, using large-diameter parallel main frame tubes, from which the front and rear suspension could be hung and the gear box and engine – firstly an Aston Martin straight-six 2.6-litre, later replaced with a more powerful 2,922cc unit – were installed. A sleek, lightweight aluminium body, styled by specialist Frank Feeley, was attached, featuring Aston Martin's distinctive 'portcullis' intake grille.

This DB3 made its debut at the 1952 BRDC May Silverstone race meeting, with four Works cars on the grid. Three of the four finished 1-2-3 in the 3-litre class, with #5 driven by Formula 1 and sportscar racer Lance Macklin taking third place.

Three months later, via campaigns at the Monaco Grand Prix and a strong showing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 16 August, the race-bred DB3 claimed its first victory at Goodwood with Collins and veteran team driver Pat Griffith sharing driving duties.

1952 DB3 Works Team Sports-Racing Two-Seater, credit: Motorsport Images

The first international sportscar race to be hosted by the West Sussex circuit, the 9-hours was contested by the leading names of the time, including Stirling Moss, who was considered a favourite in his Jaguar C-Type. However, it was Collins and Griffith who secured victory in the dark, taking the chequered flag in this, their number 17 car.

In 1953, another duo - Reg Parnell and George Abecassis - achieved an excellent second place overall in chassis #5 in the Sebring 12-hours, winning the 3-litre category. Griffith returned later that year to campaign the car in the gruelling Mille Miglia with George Abecassis.

Tim Schofield, Head of Department, Bonhams Collector Cars UK, said: "This is a very special homecoming for the DB3 at the scene of its victory in the first international race at Goodwood."

Following its racing career, the DB3 was road registered 'UPL 4' and exported to Hong Kong before finally returning to the UK in 1990, appearing at important historic meetings including Goodwood. The car is now offered in its original 1952-53 livery and is eligible for the world's greatest motorsport events including the Le Mans Classic, Mille Miglia Storica and of course, Goodwood Revival, allowing its new owner to recreate its period magic."

Other sportscar consignments to the Bonhams auction include the very first racing car to bear the McLaren 'Kiwi' badge, a 1964 Cooper-Zerex-Oldsmobile, known as the 'Jolly Green Giant' (estimate on request). This car, which also raced at Goodwood, driven by Bruce McLaren in the pair's final race appearance in the world-class 1964 RAC Tourist Trophy race, has been unearthed in South America and returned to British soil for the first time in 57 years.

The Bonhams Goodwood Revival Sale, now in its 20th year, will be held on Saturday 17 September at its traditional location 'Over the road' at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. Further entries of collector cars to the sale are invited. Contact: [email protected] for details.


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