My Car Quest

August 20, 2018

Aston Martin Race Car With Italian Coachwork To Cross The Block In Monterey

by Wallace Wyss –

When I look over my Big Mistakes in barn finding, I remember visiting a guy in Palos Verdes, California maybe 30 years ago that had an Aston Martin DB4GTZ and it was a stunning car, perfectly restored, with coachwork by Zagato, a rare bodybuilder in Astons.

The poor schlep couldn’t get even $25,000 for it “because it wasn’t a Ferrari.” It had only a six though this was a race tuned six with Webers.

Well, now I have another chance to get an ever rarer Aston. This year’s Monterey auction put on by RM Sotheby’s is will not only have the Series 2 Ferrari GTO to set auction records but a ’63 Aston Martin that is rarer than a GTO and the world’s second chance to buy a car that should have equaled the GTO in glory except, uh, it didn’t win as many races.

Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Works Prototype

Simon Clay ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

RM is billing this one as a 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Works Prototype and are predicting it will sell for between $18 million and $22 million though they have their own record to beat in Astons, the $22.6 million a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 sold for at last year’s auction. You hafta remember an Aston Martin DBR1 was the same model that won LeMans in ’59 with chicken plucker Carroll Shelby at the wheel.

Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Works Prototype

Simon Clay ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Having written about the Cobra Daytona coupe a few times, I am always mystified most Cobra fans have never heard of the car that was the Daytona coupe’s inspiration, this here car, with both having:

-Curved nose with faired in headlamps and foglamps

-Fastback roof style

-Kamm effect chopped tail

-Both have ducktail spoilers though the Daytona coupe didn’t have them added until Phil Hill practiced with the car and was scared to death when the tail lifted without them.

Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Works Prototype

Simon Clay ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

In one way the DP215 was more advanced with flush air intakes on the bonnet. And Aston had loads more experience racing at LeMans so they should have blown the Cobras, those bloody upstart Anglo-American hot rods, off the track.

Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Works Prototype

Simon Clay ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This DP215 was the last and best car in the Development Project series of three prototype coupes Aston made in the early Sixties, which included the DP 212 and 214.

This particular car has a sterling race history. It was entered in the Le Mans Prototype class in the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans, alongside other DP cars in the GT class that were designed to take on the competing Ferrari 250 GTOs. With American Phil Hill at the wheel (you wonder what Shelby thought, his Cobra driver moonlighting for the competition!), the DP215 was clocked at 198.6 mph on the Mulsanne Straight (before it was even finished accelerating), the first car to officially reach speeds faster than 300 kph (186 mph) at Le Mans.

In a way this was loads faster than the Cobras with hardtops so that clocking might have led to Shelby giving in to his protégé, Pete Brock who wanted to build a fastback to break the aero barrier that was holding the Cobra back. Unfortunately, both the DP215 and the other DP prototypes failed to finish thanks to gearbox problems.

Peter Brock

Peter Brock, left, with Daytona coupe clay model

Then the car DNF’d at the 12 Hours of Reims. Now racing on a racetrack is enough a risk but you take it on the motorway and you’ve got those damn civilians in the way and it crashed, hitting another car at 100 mph. (This might have resulted in the imposition of speed limits on the then new motorway).

Aston masterfully hid the accident, selling the damaged car and powertrain separately. But despite their subterfuge, it’s been restored, the restorers even finding the original 4.0-liter straight-six engine that was in the DP215 when Phil Hill raced it at Le Mans. Finding the gearbox wasn’t so easy. They had to work with the car’s designer Ted Cutting to re-fabricate a period-correct S432 four-speed transmission for it.

Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Works Prototype

Simon Clay ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The current owners Neil and Nigel are quoted by RM about the car’s performance in a video: “The DP cars are completely one-off competition projects and are essentially on their own level when it comes to Aston Martin racing royalty,” explained Alain Squindo, chief operating officer at RM Sotheby’s. “DP215 is the pinnacle of the Works team’s racing development, and the new owner will acquire a car that is not only extraordinarily special but also more capable of running at the front of the pack than virtually any other racing car on the market.”

IN SUM

I think if the 215 hadn’t had a run of bad luck, it would be as famous as the Daytona coupe. Maybe what it needed at the time was a guy like Pete Brock behind it, he famous for pushing the Daytona coupe at every reporter (one magazine even posed a topless model with it, shame on you, Petie, and where’s my copy?)

So I predict it will be the Brits bidding on this one…bringing a treasure home to Blightly…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is an authority on LeMans racing in the mid-‘60s, author of several books on Shelby, Cobras and GT40s. His paintings of sports cars will be available at Concorso Italiano. A list of available prints can be obtained from Litamakati2@gmail.com

 

 

 

Aston Martin DB 4 GT Zagato Logo

Summary
Aston Martin Race Car With Italian Coachwork To Cross The Block In Monterey
Article Name
Aston Martin Race Car With Italian Coachwork To Cross The Block In Monterey
Description
This very rare, and valuable, Aston Martin race car is up for auction in Monterey in August.
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Comments

  1. A really handsome car that should find special favor in a major collection… if people have not driven one of the wonderful 6 cylinder Aston’s particularly in Vantage trim they have missed out on a truly great experience. I have loved all the Aston’s I have owned and worked on over the years. i remember with great fondness my first Aston experience which was the DB4 I purchased a half ownership in when I was in high school (cause I did not have the $2,000.) to buy the car outright, although some years later I did. Loved driving that car, first car I ever went over 130 MPH in. Ah great memories.

  2. BTW the famous David Brown gearbox is a work of art and not only strong but fantastic to drive.

  3. YEP, NO MATTER HOW PRETTY AND FINE A CAR MAY BE, IT HAS TO WIN RACES, TO BECOME VALUABLE IN ITS DAY. AFTER THE FACT, RARITY AND BEAUTY CAN MAKE UP FOR IT.

  4. wallace wyss says:

    I agree. One of my hobbies is thoroughbreds.At the ranch, we have some horses that are stunning in looks but never won a race.
    Being able to brag about a bloodline *aying “sired by Derby winner” isn’t sufficient to make up for fact they never won a race on their own…

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