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Coachwork by Touring
The 1960 New York Auto Show Car
An unusual amount of original correspondence reveals the fascinating early life of this powerfully upgraded example of Aston Martin’s revered DB4. Initial owner Ernest Swigert of Portland, Oregon, first tested the model in June 1959, and obviously fell in love with the handsome coachwork by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan and engineer Tadek Marek’s powerful new engine.
Mr. Swigert ordered the car on August 26, 1959, through North Country Motors of Long Island, New York, under the auspices of his business, the Electric Steel Foundry Company. He specified a livery of Snow Shadow Grey paint with an interior trimmed in red leather. Other preferred options included a radio, dual wing mirrors, chrome wheels, and the 3.54:1 rear differential ratio. Unfortunately, labor problems beset Aston Martin in autumn 1959, and Mr. Swigert’s order was delayed, to his great dismay.
Though original letters indicate Mr. Swigert’s frustration, the delay turned out to be serendipitous. By the time construction resumed in late 1959, the DB4 model was about to enter a second series of build specifications characterized by new front-hinged hoods and a plethora of minor mechanical upgrades. This car is one of just 351 second-series DB4 examples that were produced between January 1960 and April 1961. Mr. Swigert’s car was also chosen by J.S. Inskip, the American importer, for use at the New York International Auto Show in April 1960, endowing it with rare historical provenance.
Taking delivery of his car just after the show, Mr. Swigert transported the beautiful DB4 to his home in Oregon, and receipts indicate that he regularly undertook minor service and upkeep, including replacement of the rear axle in 1967. Registration records reflect that the car passed to Oregon resident Earl Grove in the early 1970s, after which the recorded history of 287/L disappears until the late 1990s, when the car came into the possession of a San Francisco-based dealer of fine motorcars. Acquired in 2002 by John Jordan of Potomac, Maryland, the DB4 was treated to a comprehensive restoration that featured a major engine upgrade.
Motorman Engineering of St. Albans, England, a specialist in European sports car motors, was retained to perform an engine rebuild featuring an increase of displacement to 4.2 litres and the application of triple SU carburetors, an induction configuration found in the original Vantage engines that is popularly implemented in DB4 club racers. Tested on a dynamometer, the bored-out engine developed a prodigious 303 hp, a figure that easily dwarfs the original Vantage output of 266 hp and favorably compares to the DB4 GT output of 302 hp.
In addition to this documented engine work, Mr. Jordan commissioned a body restoration and bare-metal repaint in 2001 by McCabe Automotive Restoration of Mundelein, Illinois, as well as significant refurbishment of the chassis in 2005 by Treasured Motorcar Services of Reisterstown, Maryland, a process that totaled over $41,000 in receipts. The car was acquired in 2008 by a noted Midwest collector, and was treated a year later to some detail-oriented measures to further enrich the car’s authentic presentation, including the re-chroming of the bumpers and the installation of new glass. In its most recent stewardship, the car has received sparing use.
This Aston Martin’s rich documentation includes a reproduction instruction book, copy of the build sheet sourced from original factory records and supporting invoices and letters attesting to the ownership history. Nicely restored and documented, this handsome DB4 is a powerfully upgraded example that should capture the attention of discerning sports car enthusiasts everywhere.