Aston Martin DB4 Series IV Vantage

The Aston Martin DB4, unveiled at the 1958 Paris Salon, was state-of-the-art for its time, a masterpiece of robust British engineering combined with exquisite Italian styling. It included a completely new steel platform chassis with disc brakes all around and a freshly developed alloy DOHC 3.7-litre straight-six engine, all clothed in an elegantly proportioned aluminium body designed by Touring of Milan, Italy. Of all post-war Aston Martins, the gracefully sleek DB4 remains one of the most admired, and it served as the blueprint for the DB5 and DB6.

The sleek body utilised Touring’s famed Superleggera (super light) process, consisting of a skeleton made up from small-diameter steel tubing covered by hand-formed aluminium alloy body panels. The design enabled the DB4 to achieve the iconic elegance which was particularly handsome on a shorter 98-inch wheelbase than later DB models.

The ‘Vantage’ option only became available when the 4th series DB4 entered production. Since then it has been used to indicate many different levels of enhancement, but the common denominator has always been performance, up to and including today’s current models.

In the case of the DB4, no Vantage option was available until the so-called fourth-series entered production. They are outwardly identifiable by their slotted grille in combination with a better-integrated, flatter bonnet scoop and the recessed and triple-stacked tail lamps, all features that carried over to the later DB5. With the Series IV cars came the introduction of the 'Special Series' engine in September 1961, which added a third SU HD8 carburettor, a higher compression ratio (9:1) and larger valves, which boosted horsepower by over 10 percent to a quoted 266 bhp, a useful increase over the already robust standard-specification engine. Most – but not all – 'SS'-engine-equipped DB4s were also enhanced with the attractively faired-in headlamps popularised by the iconic DB4GT and carried over to the DB5. It is these covered-headlamp versions of the Series IV cars, with just 45 produced in all, which were referred to as “Vantage” models by the factory.

The DB4 Vantage also featured the DB4GT dashboard instruments, identifiable by their separate dials for each function, and the addition of an oil temperature indicator, as the SS engine and indeed most DB4s by then were equipped with oil coolers. By the time the next and final series of DB4s was introduced, the body had grown longer and taller and was fitted with smaller, wider 15-inch wheels, presaging the dimensions of the forthcoming DB5.

Therefore, the Series IV Vantage models are the only production DB4s to combine the original DB4 proportions with the attractive covered-headlamp nose, along with the high-performance motor.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in June of 2011 at the Syon House, London.

341 bhp “Special Series” 3,670 cc DOHC aluminium alloy inline six-cylinder engine upgraded to 4.2-litres displacement, triple SU HD8 carburettors, Tremec five-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with upper and lower control arms, coil springs and anti-roll bar, live rear axle with Watt linkage, trailing links and coil springs, and four-wheel coil-spring suspension, and uprated DB5-spec four-wheel disc brakes with twin servos. Wheelbase: 98"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Tom Wood

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