Aston Martin reached the pinnacle of sports-car racing in 1959. Helped by victory in that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, it won the World Manufacturer’s Championship with the very special DBR 1/2. Of course, ordinary folk couldn’t buy a DBR 1/2, but they continually asked for faster and more specialized DB4s. Aston Martin responded between 1959 and 1963 with two distinctly different cars: the DB4GT and the DB4GT Zagato.
A year after the DB4 arrived, a modified version called DB4GT was announced, a prototype having already won a production-car race at the British Silverstone circuit in early 1959. Trimmer than the Aston Martin DB4 in both size and weight, this new high-performance Aston rode a five-inch shorter wheelbase. Its cabin was cut down accordingly with shorter doors and no rear seats. More visual distinction was provided by a more rounded nose/front-fender ensemble, with headlights recessed behind Plexiglas covers. Trim and equipment were simplified where possible, so weight dropped from the DB4’s nominal 2885 pounds to 2705. Under the hood was a new version of the all-alloy 3.7-liter six with high-lift camshafts, higher compression (9.0:1), and three dual-choke Weber carburetors. Output was a smashing 302 horsepower at 6000 rpm, enough for a top speed of more than 140 mph.
A handful of super-light DB4GTs was also produced for favored racing teams. In long-distance contests like the British Tourist Trophy race they proved almost as fast and nimble as the famous Ferrari 250GT Berlinettas. Still, the DB4GT was too heavy and, crazy as it sounds, too well equipped to be a competitive racer. Though 75 roadgoing models were built in little more than a year — which, by Aston’s standards, made this a successful and profitable project — it was time to try harder.
What emerged was a curvy new Zagato-bodied variation, logically designated DB4GT Zagato and first seen in late 1960. Nothing could be done to reduce chassis size and weight (nor did prevailing homologation requirements permit it), but the Italian coachbuilder produced a very light fastback coupe shell that was quite unmistakable. Its overall appearance was marked by the curious combination of curves and angles associated with this carrozzeria, definitely smoother than the standard-issue GT and a little bulbous. Yet despite show-car styling, and publicity claims to the contrary, this was a circuit racer that might, if you insisted, be driven on the road. The fact that only 19 were called for (with a good number of detail differences among them) suggests that most GTZ’s were used on the track.
The DB4GT Zagato body was completely different from the DB4GTs in both style and construction. Normally the car was supplied without bumpers, though you could get them if you insisted. Rolling chassis were sent to Italy for body installation, but painting and final assembly were performed at Newport Pagnell.
As for its engine, the DB4GT Zagato was treated to a new-design cylinder head with twin spark plugs for each cylinder and still higher compression (9.7:1), which pushed peak power to 314 bhp at 6000 rpm. As the body weighed about 100 pounds less than the normal DB4GT’s, and likely suffered less air drag, the Zagato was that much more competitive on the track. Had Aston Martin mounted a serious competition program for this car, it might have had the measure of Ferrari.
But there was no money for that because Aston Martin was still a tiny operation, smaller even than Enzo’s company (though Ferrari had grown quite a bit by this time, relatively speaking). And in the high-stakes, high-visibility world of European road racing (or any form of racing, for that matter), better to make no effort than a halfhearted one. Besides, Aston had already proven its point by winning Le Mans and the 1959 championship.
An Aston Martin that has been left to rot in a wood for 40 years is worth a fortune
The sports car hasn't been driven since the 1970s and is rusty and undriveable
But the British classic car has now been put up for auction in Massachusetts
Auctioneers say it is worth $500,000, 100 times more than its original price
A dilapidated Aston Martin is expected to sell for more tha...
The trend of resurrecting ghostly automobile legends continues with Aston Martin, which announced Friday it's building a limited run of 25 more DB4 GTs. Originally built from 1959 to 1963, the DB4 GT was among the most powerful British cars of its era and a precursor to the modern supercar.
Just 75 DB4 GTs were built during the first run. The GT model was lighter and more powerful than the stock ...
It’s a tragedy that the Aston Martin DB4 – as well as its DB5 and DB6 successors – have now become so valuable that generally the only people buying them are collectors who have no intention of using them. Beautiful, superb to drive and genuinely usable grand tourers in the classic mould, it’s easy to see why the DB4 is so highly revered.
Featuring an elegant Touring-designed coupé bodyshell, S...
1960 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato
Incredible restoration 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato 5 speed air conditioned
Hand-crafted aluminum body built supercharged DB7 motor.
When the sultan of Brunei and his brother prince Jeffri were buying any and everything they wanted, their automotive collection was grouping together the best cars from every performance brand. This included several custom built ...
A New Zealand Aston Martin fan is 3D printing his own replica 1961 Aston Martin DB4.
We’ve seen some clever 3D printed things, but so far they’ve all been small items – and some of them smaller than small, such as themicroscopic 3D printed race car.
But a New Zealand 3D fan is thinking big. Car-sized big, and a 1961 Series II Aston Martin DB4 to boot. Auckland-based computer programmer Ivan Sent...
The Aston Martin DB2 had been on sale five years before Aston Martin began contemplating a successor. Christened Aston Martin DB4, it was all-new, which helps explain why it took three years to be finalized, delaying its public launch until autumn 1958.
Key personalities behind the new Aston Martin DB model were general manager John Wyer (who would mastermind the birth of the Ford GT40 in the 196...
One year after the DB4's debut, Aston Martin launched the DB4 GT competition version. Designed to break Ferrari's GT-racing stronghold, the DB4 GT was built for both the works teams and privateers. Outwardly, subtle changes distinguished the the GT from the standard DB4. Under the Touring styled body various modifications were carried through that really turned the DB4 into a racer.
Spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a slice of classic automotive exotica and you can be sure of many things: rarity, raw simplicity and individuality. Unfortunately for many, lying on the hard shoulder of the M25, spanner in driving-glove-clad hand, is another unavoidable ingredient.
But before you resign yourself to a life of brand-new Ferraris and Porsches, a dinky workshop five minutes f...