Model history: One year after the DB4's debut, Aston Martin launched the DB4 GT competition version. Designed to break Ferrari's GT-racing stronghold, the DB4 GT was built for both the works teams and privateers. Outwardly, subtle changes distinguished the the GT from the standard DB4. Under the Touring styled body various modifications were carried through that really turned the DB4 into a racer.
Weight reduction was one of the objectives in the GT's design. Most weight was saved by the wheelbase reduction of just over 12 cm. For the body construction the 'Superleggera' principle of body panels fixed on a tubular frame was used. The alloy panels of the DB4 were replaced by 18 gauge magnesium aluminium alloy panels on the GT. Most distinguishable features of the GT were the large air scoops and the cowled front lights.
The DB4 was the first road going Aston Martin to be equipped with the all-alloy 3670 cc straight six engine, designed by Tadek Marek. In stock form the engine produced a decent 240 bhp, sufficient for road use but not enough to face the competition on the track. Power was increased to a factory claimed 302 bhp by fitting a twin-plug head, 3 Weber Carburetors instead of the two SUs and twin distributors.
As mentioned before, the DB4 GT made its public debut at the London Motorshow of 1959, but earlier in the year the prototype made an impressive competition debut in the hands of Stirling Moss in the International Trophy meeting at Silverstone. Moss took the victory in its class from a mediocre field. In the remainder of the season the DB4 GT proved fast and on pace with the less powerful long wheel base (LWB) Ferrari 250 GTs. Ferrari, however, were already working on a more powerful and short wheel base (SWB) version of the 250 GT.
Production started in all earnest in 1960 and at the end of the year many DB4 GTs were raced by privateers in Great Britain with considerable success. Although it was intended as a competition car, quite a few of the 74 DB4 GTs constructed were used as road cars. Unfortunately, it soon became evident that the much lighter 250 GT SWB had the run on the new Aston Martin. To gain competitiveness, a 'Lightweight' version was created, which featured additional alloy components and several holes drilled in non-vital chassis components.
More drastic measures were nevertheless needed to bring the DB4 GT up to 250 GT pace. Aston Martin commissioned Italian coachbuilder Zagato to design and construct an even lighter body. Zagato had earned quite a reputation with their lightweight bodies, mostly fitted on competition Abarths and Alfa Romeos. Lighter and more powerful than ever, the DB4 GT Zagato was still not able to beat the Ferraris. The final DB4 GT constructed was fitted with a Bertone styled body and was shown at the 1961 Geneva and Turin Motorshows. The passing of the DB4 GT in 1963 meant the end of the factory competition effort.
Although the DB4 GT was not the success Aston Martin hoped for, it holds a special place in Aston Martin history. The rare Zagato bodied version is considered by many as one of the best looking cars ever constructed. Many of the 74 DB4 GTs are still regularly used in a wide variety of events and have in recent gradually gained in value with the best examples now commanding seven-figure prices in most currencies.
Designed by a very young Giorgietto Giugiaro, the steel bodied DB4 GT Jet adds a new level of elegance to the GT chassis. The 76th and final DB4 GT chassis formed the base for this one-off. The 'Jet' was shown on the Bertone stand of the 1961 Geneva Motor Show. The one-off machine was sold soon after and first spent time in Europe before crossing the Atlantic into American ownership. In 1986, a Swiss enthusiast acquired the Jet and brought it back to Europe.
Chassis 0201/L was immediately entrusted to the experts at Aston Martin for a complete restoration. The lovely result was very well received and the striking Aston Martin won the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este outright as well as numerous class trophies at events like the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. In more recent years, the Swiss owner also regularly used the car on the road. He cherished the car until his passing and it will be offered from his estate at the Bonhams Aston Martin Sale on May 18th. The pre-sale estimate for this very stylish show car is a hefty GBP 2.8 - 3.8 million.