1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Factory Lightweight SOLD

RM Auctions - Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction - August 16-18

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Estimate: $1,600,000-$1,900,000 US

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $1,650,000

Superbly suitable for road or track venues, this is the rarest of rare - one of only two LHD Lightweight DB4 GTs. A matching numbers example, our Peony Red DB4 GT # 0168/L is correctly restored by Aston Martin specialists and has been a recent winner of Concours, Vintage Race and Road Rally events.

Specifications: 3,670 cc twin plug, dual OH camshaft alloy engine with two distributors and three Weber 45 DCOE carburetors developing approximately 300 BHP at 6,000 RPM; 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; all-alloy coachwork to a “ Superleggera ” design by Touring, Milano; four-wheel Girling disc brakes; 16" Borrani alloy wire wheels with Michelin 185R-16 “ X-Stop ” radial tires. Wheelbase: 95"

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 the 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.

Effortlessly modern and breezily international, the DB4 hit the sweet spot between the Continent and the Crown.

The competition variant of the Aston Martin DB4, the DB4 GT, was formally introduced in September 1959 at the London Motor Show, based on the race-winning prototype SP199/1, and in the year which Astons took the World Sports Car 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.) 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 6,000 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 0 to 60 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 faired in headlamps, a feature that was later made standard for the DB5 model. The rear screen and quarter windows were made of Plexiglas 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 roadholding 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 GTs 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 FIA 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 that have become popular in recent years, such as the Colorado Grand, Tour de France and Tour d ’ Espagna.

Produced between 1959 and 1963, Aston Martin built a mere 75 DB4 GTs (plus another 19 of the Zagato bodied variants). Of the 75 examples, 45 were supplied in right hand drive and 30 were left hand drive. Amongst the most beloved of all Astons, the DB4 GT remains unmatched for its unique combination of performance and roadability.

Of the 75 standard DB4 GTs, only six are known to have full Factory lightweight construction details. The lightweight concept came about when certain Aston dealers and major racing teams requested GTs that could be competitive with Ferrari ’ s SWB 250 Berlinettas in international Grand Touring Racing. The half-dozen lightweights are divided into two sub-species. The first of these can be described as “ BUILD SHEET GTs ” since they were originally ordered with this specification and are so described on the factory build sheets and in the Aston Martin Owners Club (AMOC) Registry. DB4 GT # 0168/L, the car here on offer, is one of only four BUILD SHEET Lightweight GTs – two being configured as Right Hand Drive examples and a further two, including this GT, in Left Hand Drive form.

The other lightweight type is the “ BESPOKE ” or Service Department created GTs. Ex-Aston Martin Chief Engineer and Head of Racing, Ted Cutting wrote to this author on November 11, 1994 with a clarification of the two types: “ The cars ordered and built as lightweights from the start were so described on their buildsheets and were completed by the Aston Martin Competition Department. The “ Bespoke ” GT chassis were modified to lightweight spec after build completion by the service shop. ”
The following is a listing of the “ BUILD SHEET ” lightweight racing DB4 GTs:
0124/R Tommy Sopwith 587 GJB
0125/R Ogier/Essex Racing 18 TVX
0167/L Factory Road Test Car 40 MT
0168/L Inskip/NY Dealer N/A

The chassis weight was reduced by aluminum replacement of the standard car ’ s steel parts, by “ hole-cutting ” and by the total elimination of certain other items.
Alloy Replacement of Steel Items:
1. Door, bonnet & boot framing
2. Wheel arches
3. Engine compartment side panels
4. Upper half of firewall
5. All cockpit floor sections (4)
6. Rear parcel shelf and rear riser panels.
7. Battery & tool box lids
8. Rear boot pan
9. Front kick panels
10. Drive shaft tunnel

Chassis Hole Cutting
1. Front cross-member
2. Front side rails
3. Rear watts linkage brackets
4. Brake line brackets

Weight Reduction by elimination
1. Radio, speakers & heater
2. Glovebox lid
3. One of two bonnet stay rods
4. Clock 5. Windshield washer bottle, pump and fittings
6. Bumpers & over-riders.

* NOTE: DB4 GT Lightweights were all different from each other in certain aspects, being ordered by customers to various specifications. # 0168/L for instance, has Plexi rear quarter and rear windows as well as a 24 hour aircraft-type clock fitted in the center of the dash, presumably as a pit-stop timing device for its intended first race – the 1961 12 Hours of Sebring.

During the total restoration carried out for the present owner in the 2001-2002 period, the following performance and safety aspects were added:
• “ Blueprinting ” of original engine to FIA specs.
• HD suspension components.
• Competition brake pads.
• Safety 4-pt bolt-in roll bar with seat harness brackets (removable).
• Racing seat belts.
• Large racing oil cooler
• Weber carburetor cold-air box with front facing air duct tubing.
• “ ATL ” racing fuel bladder and foam fitted inside the original 32-gallon alloy tank.
• Five pound fire extinguisher.
• Racing master electric cut-off switch in rear quarter-window.

The Factory Lightweight DB4 GT we are here privileged to present was ordered by the handlebar-mustachioed Head of Aston Martin ’ s North American operations, Rex Woodgate. Woodgate, a legendary business figure in the David Brown era of Aston ’ s history was also a highly respected driver as well as a racing team manager and had entered # 0168/L in the March 25, 1961 Sebring 12 Hours Endurance Race.

As the third car of his DB4 GT Racing Team, drivers scheduled for Aston ’ s Sebring effort included well known sports car chauffeurs Bob Grossman, Duncan Black, Sherman Decker and Bob Bucher. The build sheet says
0168/L was dispatched from Newport Pagnell on March 14th, a mere 11 days prior to Sebring but, as an airfreight cargo, it should have made the race; that is until Murphy joined the Aston Team. Alas, US Customs took an overly great interest, rolling out the red tape instead of the red carpet and Woodgate ’ s new Aston DB4 GT was not released until the Monday after the Sebring race! However, now one can be grateful for this bad luck, since this GT was then sold through Inskip ’ s in New York as a Grand Touring street machine, thus escaping the tin-snips and ball-peen hammers that the 12 Hours of Sebring often inflict on innocent factory-fresh sports cars.

Interestingly, the original factory build sheet further confirms this GTs intended Sebring race mission –
“ Guarantee Issued ” , instead of the normal one year period, is typed in capital letters: “ NO WARRANTY ISSUED
Hopefully Inskip of New York, the importer/East Coast Aston dealer, re-instated this warranty before selling
car to the first owner, H.P. Berger of Gypsy Hill, Gwynedd Valley, PA. Berger sold it on to Ed Nisbet of Stamford, CT in 1963 who kept it for four years before passing # 0168/L to E.R. Coyle of Sewickley, PA.

Coyle apparently liked the GT, keeping it for some eight years prior to selling to US Army Major Douglas H. Necessary of Hopkinsville, KY in 1975.

Necessary liked the DB4 GT even better since he ultimately owned it twice! In 1984 Necessary turned the Aston over to another legendary Aston Martin North American character by the name of Charlie Turner. Turner, a larger-than-life figure (literally) was a long-term Chairman of the Aston Martin Owners Club (AMOC – USA) and a great fan of DB4 GTs, owning three of them in a 25 year period. In about 1987, Major Necessary talked Turner into selling the DB4 GT back to him, keeping it for two or three years before passing it back to Turner in the late 1980s.

Charlie Turner, the proprietor of Import Service & Restoration Company of Marietta, GA coveted this car because of its factory lightweight status and always said that this was his favorite. Now having covered some 54,945-road miles, according to a 1988 appraisal carried out for Turner, he decided to treat this GT to a total restoration. Sadly this was not completed in his lifetime, since Turner succumbed to a heart attack in 1990.


# 0168/L remained in the C. Turner estate for a further ten years until the present owner, another ex-Chairman of the Aston Martin Owners Club, managed to acquire it after several years of trying on April 4, 2001. At that time # 0168/L consisted of a perfectly painted body in the original color of Peony Red on its restored chassis and suspension, but with the power train not yet installed. (Its odometer read 54,989 miles – believed to be the original mileage from new).

In the 2001-2002 period, Aston expert Jon Clerk of the Steel Wings Company of Ivyland, PA, restored the entire car – every aspect, again. Considering its intended use as a dual-purpose road and track car, many subtle performance, reliability and safety improvements were incorporated in this car ’ s engine and running gear. All of this work is now conclusively proven as no. 0168/L currently holds the Lime Rock Park lap record for “ standard DB4 GTs ” at a flat 1:08 as per the Aston Martin Owners Club, while still being a perfectly tractable road Grand Tourer for rallies and tours. With the odometer now registering 56,547 – having covered 1,558 miles since the recent restoration, the DB4 GT has successfully completed eight track events, three AMOC New England Road Tours and a few spirited dinner drives without missing a beat.

Additionally no. 0168/L was recently returned to Steel Wings for an all systems check-over, oil service and tune- up. Now totally ready for more road and track adventures, the sale of this DB4 GT is accompanied by its Factory build sheet as well as British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certificate no. 2006/820S and a Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA) competition log book. The subject of a recent lavish feature article in Vintage Motorsport Magazine, this Factory Lightweight Aston Martin DB4 GT presents a stunning combination of continental elegance and brute power and will be welcomed at any historic motoring event on the planet.

Please note that this vehicle is a 1959.

Reference Number 10145

as of 6/1/2007

Car 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Factory Lightweight
VIN DB4GT 0168/L 
Exterior / Interior Color      Red 
Configuration Left Hand Drive (LHD) 
Transmission Manual Shift 
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