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


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.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato Re-Creation
Number Produced:1 (SII cars: 4, originals: 19)
SCM Valuation:$450,000
Tune Up Cost:$1,600 (RS Williams)
Distributor Caps:$81 (x2) (RS Williams price)
Chassis Number Location:Under hood on top of scuttle
Engine Number Location:On nearside of cylinder block next to dynamo
Alternatives:Ferrari 250 GTO/SWB replica, Aston Martin DB4 resto-mod, Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe replica
Investment Grade:C

This 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato Re-creation sold for $529,320, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Automobiles of London sale at Battersea Evolution, London, on October 29, 2008.

Built to exact DB4GT Zagato specification (“raped” is how Richard Williams has described the Sanction II process of copying his own GTZ), the iconic shape has been perfectly re-created by the same hands that built the original cars from the 1960s, and the detailing evokes all of the emotion of the original.

Galbiati started with chassis DB4483R, shortened it to GTZ specifications, and then crafted a new car on top. The engine and gearbox, by RS Williams, cost more than $65,000 in 2004. The motor looks correct in every detail, with its original DB4GT twin-plug head, but inside there is a steel billet crankshaft, Carrillo rods, and Cosworth pistons, sucking though triple Weber 45DCOE carburetors, as per the original. Power is now a claimed 340 hp at 5,500 rpm, which rather leads one to suspect a Sanction II-style 4.2 under the hood, rather than the 3,670-cc quoted in the catalog.

This car is half the price of a Sanction II

Finished in the same Sanction II shade of green, the car was completed early in 2008 and is presented in fresh condition. The interior is correctly detailed with Smiths instruments (5,500 redline tach) and subdued trim, with good detailing in the trunk, including the riveted tank and new double-ended SU fuel pump (now in production again with Burlen Fuel Systems). Aside from the 74,000 miles showing on the clock, presumably a legacy from the donor car, this car is new and unmarked.

Richard Williams pointed out that when new, the Sanction II cars were about half the price of the real thing. This is about half of that price for a car that is as good as a Sanction II, just not officially endorsed by the company. I doubt whether anybody could tell the difference between this and a Sanction II without looking at the chassis number. These five cars do differ from the originals in chassis detail, however.

A good Porsche RS 2.7 replica is about 40% of the price of a mint original, and this car looks like an even better value if you follow the same logic. A real GTZ is now about $4 million, a Sanction II something like half that, and this car around an eighth of an original. It’s 50% more than a decent GTO replica, but one of those is only about one-fiftieth of the price of the real thing. However you slice and stack the numbers, this DB4GT Zagato Re-creation brought about 75% of its lower estimate, as did most of the cars at this sale. In this climate, the seller should be happy with that.

Whatever its relative value, one might argue that it devalues the Sanction II cars-and what’s to stop Galbiati from making more? Will we see Ferrari-style “cease and desist” suits flying about in an attempt to stop re-creations from wearing Aston Martin badges? Only time will tell.

I suggest that if you see this car as exactly what it is-an exquisitely hand-crafted GT car to enjoy, for roughly the price of the donor car plus the labor-the value equation starts to make sense. However, I can’t resist commenting that in the end, it’s a shame to waste another DB4.

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