1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato Re-creation

I doubt whether anybody could tell the difference between this and a
Sanction II without looking at the chassis number

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The competition variant of the legendary Aston Martin DB4, the DB4GT, was introduced in September 1959 at the London Motor Show. It was based on the race-winning prototype DP199/1, which won in its first outing at Silverstone in May 1959 in the hands of Stirling Moss. That was the year in which Aston Martin chairman David Brown’s race program had beaten Ferrari in sports cars, winning Le Mans outright and taking the World Sports Car Championship.

The Aston Martin DB4GT was developed for increased performance by making it shorter, lighter, and more powerful than the DB4. The 3,670-cc DOHC engine was extensively modified, featuring a higher compression (9:1), a twin-plug, dual-ignition cylinder head, and breathing through triple twin-choke Weber 45DCOE carburetors. Power output was claimed at 304 hp, a useful increase from the claimed 240 hp of the standard car, and qualified the GT as the most powerful British car of its era. Maximum speeds during testing reached 153 mph with a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds. It was one of the first cars that could go from standstill to 100 mph and back again in under 20 seconds-a tribute, in part, to its uprated Girling braking system, as used in Aston Martin’s sports racers of the era.

By 1960, coachbuilder Zagato’s fame was at its pinnacle, with GT racing and rallying virtually dominated by cars wearing its bodies. Upping the ante to compete with the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, the Torinese firm was commissioned to create an even lighter version of the DB4GT. The Zagato edition was to be equipped with an uprated version of the DB4GT engine, now producing 314 hp. Though 25 were planned, only 19 were built., and no two were exactly alike.

In 1989, Aston Martin boss Victor Gauntlett authorized the production of four more GTZs, to be known as “Sanction II” cars, which would use up unallocated chassis numbers from the original series. Led by Works racing specialist (and world-famous restorer of Astons) Richard Williams, the completed chassis were sent to the workshops of Zagato, where Mario Galbiati was heading up the project.

To ensure that the bodies of the Sanction II cars were identical to the originals, Williams had his own car sent to Italy to be dismantled and used as a template. The finished cars are perfect tributes, with just a few modifications to improve handling, plus 4.2-liter engines. They were offered for £750,000 (about $1.2m at that time) each, around half the then-current market value of one of the original 19 cars, and they are considered part of the ongoing DB4GT Zagato legacy.

This car can legitimately claim direct lineage to the Sanction II project. Having built the bodies for the four Sanction cars, Mario Galbiati embarked on the production of one final car that he intended to keep for himself. With the experience he had accumulated in the building of the other cars, this was to be the best one he had ever made. But before it was even completed, an Italian collector heard of the project and convinced Galbiati to sell. Only recently completed, it went back to RS Williams in September 2008, where all engine settings were checked and the car was road tested. Williams reports the car is a stunning and properly built example that requires some final fettling and detailing to be set up correctly for use on road or track.

Paul Hardiman

Paul Hardiman - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Paul is descended from engineers and horse thieves, so he naturally gravitated toward the old-car marketplace and still finds fascination in the simpler things in life: looking for spot-weld dimples under an E-type tail, or counting the head-studs on a supposed Mini-Cooper engine. His motoring heroes are Roger Clark, Burt Levy, Henry Royce and Smokey Yunick — and all he wants for next Christmas is an Alvis Stalwart complete with picnic table in the back and a lake big enough to play in.

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