2023 |Amelia Island Auctions
1962 Aston Martin DB4 Series IV SS Convertible
Coachwork by Touring
$900,000 - $1,100,000
One of 70 DB4 Convertibles and Just 11 Series IV Examples with Special Series Engine
Factory Equipped with Overdrive and Auxiliary Oil Cooler
Retains Original Matching-Numbers Engine per Factory Build Sheets
Comprehensively Restored in the 1990s by Long-Term Owner of 35 Years
Among the Rarest and Most Desirable David Brown-Era Aston Martins
3,670 CC DOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Three SU HD8 Carburetors
266 BHP at 5,750 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox with Synchromesh
4-Wheel Girling Disc Brakes
Front Independent Suspension with Wishbones and Coil Springs
Rear Live Axle with Coil Springs and Watts Linkage
With the austerity of the early postwar era comfortably in the rearview mirror and the Swinging Sixties just around the corner, the introduction of the Aston Martin DB4 at the London Motor Show in October 1958 was well timed. The DB4 built on the success of the DB2 and its many variants, but was appreciably more contemporary, offering a platform chassis instead of its predecessor’s separate frame and an all-new, twin-cam engine. Designed by Tadek Marek, the new powerplant was a fantastic all-aluminum unit which replaced the superb LB6 engine that W.O. Bentley had originally designed at Lagonda. The LB6 was a significant contributor to David Brown’s decision to purchase Lagonda a year after buying Aston Martin in 1947, but the engine had no more development potential beyond 2.9 liters.
Marek’s new engine was bang up-to-date and displaced 3.7 liters with room to grow. Its perfectly square bore-and-stroke dimensions of 92 mm gave the new powerplant a more revved-up nature than the long-stroke DB2 engine. Other DB4 technical highlights included twin SU carburetors, fully synchronized David Brown gearbox, rack and pinion steering, and disc brakes all around. This exciting technical equipment was clothed in beautiful Touring of Milan-designed bodywork, which gave the DB4 continental good looks that put the car among the most handsome sports cars of all time. The body was built using Touring’s characteristic Superleggera construction, consisting of aluminum panels over small-diameter steel tubes.
The DB4’s performance proved that it was the finest high-performance GT car then made in Britain: top speed was around 140 mph and testers marveled at its ability to accelerate to 100 mph and then stop again in 30 seconds. Complaints were few, but one of the most serious was insufficient cooling, which sometimes led to engine failure. In an effort to rectify this, oil capacity was expanded twice and an oil cooler added to the options list. Numerous other changes were progressively introduced, which enthusiasts have subsequently used to divide DB4 production into five series.
Coinciding with the arrival of the Series IV DB4 were two exciting new developments. September 1961 marked the addition of the Special Series engine, while the following month, the first convertible DB4 was introduced. The SS engine increased power by more than 10%, from 240 bhp to 266 bhp, thanks to a third SU carburetor, larger valves, and higher compression ratio. The convertible body was a costly option and was only available for the final two years of production so accordingly, few were made. Of more than 1,200 DB4s built, only 70 were dropheads. Thirty of these were Series IVs, of which just 11 received SS engines.
This is one such car, delivered new on June 16, 1962 to a resident of London and originally finished in California Sage (silver green) with red interior. In addition to the Special Series engine, this car received an auxiliary oil cooler and overdrive, another option which arrived with the introduction of the Series IV. The included factory build sheets confirm the car retains its matching-numbers engine today, and also outline consistent service work performed in England during the first seven years of the car’s life, during which it covered 40,000 miles.
Around 1983, the car was acquired in Cambridge, Massachusetts by a long-term keeper, who performed a painstaking 10-year restoration, which was completed in the mid-1990s. He drove the car regularly for the next two decades, covering approximately 7,500 miles. A detailed notebook from this period describes the careful maintenance performed between 1996 and 2017. In anticipation of the sale, the car received a light service by the highly regarded Aston Martin specialist Steel Wings.
Among the rarest of the David Brown-era Aston Martins, any DB4 drophead is an immensely desirable car. This example is further distinguished by its factory Special Series engine and overdrive, characteristics that markedly enhance the already fantastic driving experience of the DB4. Coupled with this car’s nicely mellowed restoration, these attributes make for the ideal classic for events and casual touring alike.