Aston Martin DB4 GT

The Aston Martin DB4 was unveiled at the 1958 Paris Salon. A totally new car, the introduction of the DB4 was a significant achievement for a small British manufacturer. The specification included a completely new steel platform chassis with disc brakes all around and a freshly developed alloy twin-cam 3.7 liter straight six engine, all clothed in an elegantly-proportioned fastback aluminum body designed by Touring of Milan. Overall, the DB4 was state-of-the art for its time, a masterpiece of robust British engineering in combination with exquisite Italian styling. Of all the postwar Aston Martins, Sir David Brown’s gracefully sleek DB4 is certainly one of the most admired.

The chassis was engineered under the watchful eye of Harold Beech and features independent front suspension and a live rear axle well-located by trailing arms and a Watt’s linkage. The body construction utilizes the vaunted Touring Superleggera process, which consists of a skeleton made up from small diameter steel tubing covered by hand-formed aluminum alloy body panels. The coachwork was constructed by Aston Martin under license from Touring at its newly deployed facility in Newport Pagnell.

The competition variant of the Aston Martin DB4, the DB4 GT, was formally introduced in September 1959 at the London Motor Show. The new competition car was based on the race winning prototype SP199/1, and that same year Astons took the World Sportscar Championship title. The GT prototype won its first outing at Silverstone in May 1959 on the Bank Holiday weekend in the hands of Stirling Moss and was one of the first cars away at Le Mans that June, in the same colors as the victorious Aston DBR1 Sports Racing Car.

The GT was developed for increased performance by making it shorter, lighter and more powerful. In order to save weight, the wheelbase was reduced by 13 cm (approx. 5 inches). Altogether, weight was reduced by 91 kg (200 lbs), and the engine was extensively modified, featuring a higher compression (9:1) twin plug cylinder head and breathing through triple dual-throat Weber 45 DCOE carburetors.

Power output was outstanding: 302 bhp at 6000 rpm, a useful increase from the claimed 240 bhp of the standard car and qualifying the GT as the most powerful British car of its era. Maximum speed was 153 mph with a zero-to-sixty time of 6.1 seconds. It was also one of the first cars that could go from standstill to 100 mph and then brake to a dead stop in under 20 seconds – a tribute, in part, to its upgraded Girling braking system, as used on Aston’s competition sports racers of the era.

Outwardly, the GT is distinguished by fared-in headlamps, a feature which was later made standard for the DB5 model. The rear screen and quarter windows were made of plexi-glass on many examples, bumper overriders were deleted and the roll-down windows were frameless within the doors. Twin, competition-style, quick-release “Monza” fuel fillers were added atop each of the rear wings, leading to a high-capacity fuel tank mounted in the boot.

The immense performance and excellent road holding of the DB4 GT renders it an ideal car for the fast, long distance driver. The sheer sensation of unlimited “urge” under perfect control is one of motoring’s greatest pleasures.

Unlike the Aston’s Italian arch-rival, the SWB 250 Berlinetta which had a rudimentary “race car” interior look, the DB4 GT’s cockpit was luxuriously appointed to Aston Martin road car specifications, including Connolly hides and Wilton wool carpeting. The dash binnacle on the GT cars benefited from the addition of an oil temperature gauge in addition to the standard array of instruments, which included an 8,000 RPM tachometer.

DB4 GTs represented a strong challenge to the dominance of Ferrari in GT racing and enjoyed considerable success, raced from 1959 by both the Works team as well as John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable. Driven by the likes of Roy Salvadori, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark and Innes Ireland, these rare lightweight GTs earned their stripes on the racing circuits of the world.

Despite their rarity, the GT is still a popular entrant at major historic racing events such as the Goodwood Revival and the numerous Aston Martin Owners Club Championship race meetings. The DB4 GT has proven grand for touring in many of the long distance events which have become popular in recent years, such as the Colorado Grand, Tour de France and Tour D’Espagna.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

300 bhp at 6,000 rpm, 3,670 cc twin plug, dual overhead camshaft alloy engine with two distributors and three Weber 45 DCOE carburetors, four-speed synchromesh alloy-cased, close ratio gearbox, monocoque steel “punt-type” chassis with four-wheel coil-spring suspension, independent to the front, solid axle rear with trailing arms and Watt’s linkage lateral location, four-wheel Girling disc brakes. Wheelbase: 95"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credits: Copyright Steve Petrovich and Kevin Pearce

Gallery: Aston Martin DB4 GT