Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Replica
In the UK, replicas by both factories and individuals are a time honored tradition, especially on famous chassis like Bentley, Lagonda, Frazer-Nash and Jaguar. Even Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. got into the act in the early 1990s with their four DB4 GT Zagato “Continuation Cars” which were built with saloon donor car parts on four unused GT chassis numbers.
A correctly done replica, based on a proper donor chassis and constructed as per the original, is a practical way to save a factory identity which could otherwise have been lost forever.
Very few of the really great Grand Touring cars are nowadays seen at Historic Racing events. Have Ferrari GTOs and Aston Zagatos discarded their automobile status in favor of dehumidified sealed storage in investment portfolios? Probably. In order to counteract this lack, most historic race organizers and the FIA now admit “Rebodies” – essentially period-correct chassis and mechanicals, sporting personality make-overs in the form of smart new replica coachwork, in the original material.
This Aston “Zagato,” originally commissioned by AMOC member Joseph Hish in 1994 is just such a specimen.
After a long interest in the marque, Joe bought DB4 GT/0143/L in 1993. A few drives later he was hooked on Aston motoring and innocently began to inquire about GT Zagatos. Such rarities were not beyond Mr. Hish’s means, but a seven-digit hobby car offended his sensible side. (Of fourth generation American-German farming stock, his Company builds bridges and other large steel things.) “I just got interested in Astons a bit late,” related the affable Hish, who still owns the AC Cobra that he bought new in 1965!
The retina-etching beauty of an Aston Martin Zagato GT wouldn’t fade, however, so he did the next best thing. He commissioned a perfect replica of “2 VEV,” the famous lightweight DB4 GT racing Zagato. As is typical with such projects, a “donor car” – in this case the remains of DB4/384/R – was acquired. The chassis was shortened five inches to the correct 93-inch wheelbase, and a new Zagato body, from the original “2 VEV” body buck no less, was hand formed in alloy by Shapecraft, an English panel company that carries out body work for the Aston Martin Factory. The steering, suspension and braking systems were rebuilt and installed by the Derby, England based firm of Aston Engineering.
After this, the car was shipped across the pond as a roller, to Jon Clerk’s PTR Inc. Florida shop, where all the mechanicals, including a “full-house” Aston DB4 engine was built and fitted. Instead of the usual Aston Racing color, variously called Almond or Sage Green, Joe opted for a natural polished alloy finish. “Besides getting gorgeous looks, it saves about 75 pounds of paint materials, you know,” he enthused!
384/R’s debut at the 1995 Chicago Historic Races saw Concours wins in the English Car Class and “Peoples’ Choice” as well as fastest race lap in the hands of old pro Brian Redman, competing against a field full of AC Cobras and Ferraris.
Yours truly was privileged to try the beautiful beast next at both VSCDA/Elkhart Lake and SVRA/Summit Point. Two more easy first places resulted. What’s it like out there? Well, at 2,300 pounds and close to 400 bhp, it makes my ordinary standard-weight DB4 racing saloon seem…well, ordinary.
(The majority of the “2 VEV”s description is excerpted from then AMOC Vice-Chairman Jack Boxstrom’s AMOC Quarterly mid-‘90’s magazine article.
After many approaches by various parties, Joseph Hish sold his Aston Martin to the current owner in the late 1990s. A major auto dealer and retail store owner, he is also a vintage racing car enthusiast with a substantial collection. Accordingly the Aston DB4 “GT Zagato” has been selectively shown and raced for the past few years at Daytona, Sebring, Road Atlanta and other major historic venues. On these occasions, this spectacular polished alloy Aston Martin is invariably the most admired and most photographed entrant!
While dozens of replica Ferrari 250 GTO and 250 GTBs exist, this is likely the only version of Aston Martin’s fabled aerodynamic Zagato GT “2 VEV” to have been replicated.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
380 bhp, 4.2 liter alloy Aston Martin six-cylinder full racing engine on triple 55 mm Weber carburetion, four-speed DB gearbox with internal modifications, independent front suspension with coil-overs and adjustable anti-sway bar, solid rear axle on four trailing arms, Watts linkage and coil-over shocks, Borrani 7.5/9 X 15" alloy rimmed wire wheels. Normal safety items include six-point roll-over bar, six-point belts, automatic fire system with three nozzles, electric cut-off switches, racing bucket seats, transmission and rear end forced air cooling, ATL 22 gallon fuel cell. Wheelbase: 93" (DB4 GT)
Source: RM Auctions