Near the top of any list of great classic road racers, you will find the Aston Martin DB4 GT. Competition-winning know-how inspired every facet of its design, and yet it also turned out to be effortlessly beautiful － two qualities that maddened its Modena competition. This model forced Ferrari to up its sports car game by breaking the famous Italian brand’s stranglehold on a discipline it had dominated since the early 1950s.
From the DB4 GT’s Perspex headlamp covers to its preposterously powerful (for the time) 302bhp straight-six engine, it was ready for Le Mans right from the showroom. In fact, one famous incident would prove this outright. At the 1959 Bahamas Speed Week, a works DBR2 was rolled just before its next race. The factory team had no choice but to pluck a customer’s stock DB4 GT from the car park and give it to Stirling Moss. He went on to win that race, cementing the model’s legend in the process.
Simply upping the power would have been enough for most makers, but Aston Martin went so much further. Weight saving was taken to near-fanatical levels. The wheelbase was shortened by five inches, the rear seats were removed and the aluminium bodywork was thinner than that used on the road-going DB4. Even the quarter and rear window glass was swapped for lightweight Perspex. Borrani alloy wire wheels finished off a crash diet that saved 91kg (2001b) over the standard DB4. All this effort wasn’t wasted, with the car winning its opening BRDC Sportscar race at Silverstone, again in the hands of Stirling Moss.
This exceptional and unrestored DB4GT, that I got to see and photograph at the Concours of Elegance 2020, is thought to be the only car finished in this attractive shade of Wedgwood Blue from the factory. It’s also one of just 45 made in right-hand drive (from a total production of 75), and has remained in the UK ever since it rolled out of Newport Pagnell 60 years ago. For a time, the car belonged to prolific historic racer The Right Honourable Patrick Lindsay before passing to the equally well-known David Heynes. Now, in the hands of its current long-term owner, the car is once again used in anger on the circuit; just as Aston Martin intended.
4.2-litre, straight-six, dual overhead camshaft, 385bhp, triple carburettors
Front engine, five-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive, unitary body and chassis, coil-spring front with coil-spring live rear axle with Watt’s linkage, discs all round