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Launched at the 1958 Paris Motor Show, the bold DB4 ushered in a new era for Aston Martin and its road models. It would also serve as the basis for the competition-oriented DB4 GT, the development of which was reportedly spurred by the French Aston Martin distributor, who demanded a GT-class racing car capable of defeating Ferrari’s 250 GT Tour de France. Based on the DP199 prototype, which won at its first race at Silverstone with Stirling Moss, the production DB4 GT debuted at the London Motor Show in 1959, the year of Aston Martin’s brilliant 1–2 victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and World Sportscars Championship title.
Developed under Aston Martin racing manager John Wyer, the DB4 GT was at once shorter, lighter, and more powerful than the production DB4. Featuring thinner, 18-gauge aluminum-alloy body panels, the new Aston Martin’s wheelbase was shortened by approximately five inches, and the rear seats were removed on all but a few special-order cars, helping achieve a 200-pound weight reduction.
Built with an aluminum, twin-plug cylinder head, the Tadek Marek-designed 3.7-litre DOHC engine of the DB4 GT was extensively modified, featuring a higher 9:1 compression ratio and three Weber 45 DCOE carburetors, yielding 302 factory-rated hp at 6,000 rpm. Girling four-wheel disc brakes were shared with Aston Martin’s sports racers of the era. Distinguished by its Perspex-covered headlamps, lightweight rear- and quarter-windows, deleted bumper over-riders and frameless side windows, the DB4 GT also included twin competition-style, quick-release external fuel fillers, an extended range fuel tank, and Borrani knock-off wire wheels. Interiors were still fully trimmed with Wilton wool carpeting and fine Connolly leather covering lightweight seat frames. DB4 GT instrumentation also included an oil-temperature gauge.
Raced from 1959 by both the Aston Martin Works team and the Essex Racing team of John Ogier, DB4 GTs were piloted by the era’s greatest drivers including Roy Salvadori, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, and Innes Ireland. In December 1959 at the Bahamas Speed Week, when another driver rolled a DBR2 intended for Moss, a DB4 GT just delivered to a Caribbean customer was “borrowed” and driven by him to victory in the next race.
As Aston Martin’s successful reply to Ferrari’s 250 GT Tour de France, the DB4 GT was countered in 1960 by the 250 GT SWB, itself inspiring Aston Martin’s lighter-weight DB4 GT Zagato in 1961, only to be countered in 1962 by the 250 GTO, its nemesis from Maranello. Aston Martin built a mere 75 DB4 GTs between 1959 and 1963, plus another 19 Zagato-bodied examples and one Bertone-bodied special. Of the standard DB4 GTs, 45 were right-hand-drive cars and 30 were left-hand drive.
The Aston Martin presented here, chassis 0144/L, is among this exclusive group of left-hand drive DB4 GTs. According to factory records, it was constructed on 30 December 1960, finished in the striking color scheme of Black Pearl with Dark Blue Connolly leather upholstery and equipped with metric instrumentation, octagonal wheel nuts, a 3.54:1 rear axle ratio, and Dunlop RS5 tires. In July 1961, the DB4 GT was dispatched to Swiss importer Garage Hubert Patthey of Geneva and sold to its first owner, a local resident named M. Abreu.
While little is recorded of the DB4 GT’s earliest history, correspondence with the Aston Martin Owners Club (AMOC) on file suggests that 0144/L was sent to Carrozzeria Frua in Italy in the late 1960s – presumably at the request of the original owner – for cosmetic and mechanical updates. At this time, the tail section was updated in the style of the contemporary DB6, two rear seats were fitted in place of the standard luggage platform, and the front grille was modified with integrated driving lights. At the same time, the car’s four-speed David Brown gearbox was replaced with a five-speed ZF unit from a DB5.
The car’s next known owner, a Mr. Carey, acquired 0144/L sometime in the late 1960s and then in 1969, it was sold to Robin Tait, an attorney residing in Geneva, Switzerland and Paris, France. Records on file confirm that Mr. Tait sent his DB4 GT to the Aston Martin works at Newport Pagnell in 1969, and again in 1970, for mechanical attention, with subsequent maintenance carried out by the respected Oxford-area garage Alexander Hillyer Engineering.
Remarkably, the DB4 GT remained in Mr. Tait’s ownership until 1990, when it was sold to noted collector William E. Connor II. Upon acquiring the Aston Martin, Mr. Connor commissioned John Williams of Sandy, Utah to perform a complete restoration, returning the car’s bodywork to original factory configuration and refinishing it in the attractive livery of DP199, the prototype DB4 GT. In 1997, following a complete restoration and several years of active use, Mr. Connor sold the Aston Martin to W. Randolph Reiss of Los Angeles, California. During his ownership, the DB4 GT took part in the exclusive Colorado Grand and was maintained by Richard Freshman’s Fossil Motorsports.
In 2003, after a few years in the hands of Aston Martin enthusiast Don Rose, 0144/L was sold to Belgian collector Karsten Le Blanc, who had Roos Engineering of Switzerland carry out extensive mechanical work. Mr. Le Blanc later sold the DB4 GT to the great Aston Martin enthusiast Peter Livanos and it remained in his stable for approximately five years before being sold to Polish collector Jaroslaw Pawluk.
In 2013, the current caretaker acquired the DB4 GT from William Loughran, enjoyed it for several years, and then entrusted it to the renowned Aston Martin heritage specialist Richard Stewart Williams Ltd. of Surrey, England, for a complete, concours-quality restoration.
Not only did this process involve completely disassembling the DB4 GT and addressing all cosmetic elements, it also included a full mechanical restoration with a complete rebuild of the original matching-numbers engine to 4.7-liter specification and fitting a correct David Brown gearbox. Likewise, all of the car’s suspension, braking, and electrical components were restored, with invoices on file documenting the work performed at a cost of nearly £400,000.
0144/L has seen only minor use since the comprehensive R.S. Williams restoration was completed in Summer 2020 and it presents spectacularly today in its factory-specified color scheme of Black Pearl with Dark Blue leather. The sale includes a proper tool kit, instruction manual, and a large file of supporting documentation including copies of the factory build sheet, correspondence with the AMOC, previous registration records, correspondence, and restoration invoices. Furthermore, the car’s history and provenance are detailed in the definitive book on the model, The Aston Martin DB4GT by Stephen Archer and Richard Candee.
As an original left-hand drive DB4 GT, 0144/L is undoubtedly among the most desirable Aston Martins of all time. These purpose-built machines represent the ultimate evolution of the DB4 program and proved extremely successful at the height of international GT racing in the early 1960s. Without question, the DB4 GT is one of the ultimate dual-purpose sports cars of the era, with its only serious rivals being Ferrari’s 250 SWB and Jaguar’s Lightweight E-Type.
Not only is 0144/L a rare and significant competition-bred Aston Martin, its desirable factory specification, well-established history, and top-tier presentation set it apart from its brethren. Over the past 60 years, this Aston Martin has been in the hands of knowledgeable, passionate owners. It is supported by a comprehensive history file and has been prepared by one of the world’s foremost marque specialists in a no-expense-spared fashion.
For the collector who has been looking to acquire a truly outstanding DB4 GT, the search ends here.
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*Please note that the Seller of this Lot is a private individual.
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