Classically proportioned and instantly recognizable from the moment of its introduction in 1958, the Touring-styled Aston Martin DB4 established a look that would survive, with only minor revisions, until 1970.
Designed by Tadek Marek and already proven in racing, the DB4’s new twin-cam, 6-cylinder engine displaced 3,670 cc, and the gearbox was a new David Brown 4-speed, all-synchromesh unit.
An immensely strong platform-type chassis, designed by Harold Beach, replaced the preceding DB2/4’s multi-tubular space frame, the latter being considered incompatible with Touring’s Superleggera body construction. The DB2/4’s trailing-link independent front suspension gave way to unequal-length wishbones, while at the rear, the DB4 sported a live axle located by a Watt linkage instead of its predecessor’s Panhard rod.
Boasting disc brakes all round and with 240 horsepower on tap, the DB4 was the first production car capable of accelerating from a standing start to 100 mph and back to rest again in under 30 seconds. At a time when few family saloons were capable of exceeding 70 mph and took an age to get there, this staggering performance made the DB4 just about the fastest thing on the road, easily the equal of its Italian rivals.
It was manufactured between October 1958 and June 1963, and one of the most notable developments arrived with the introduction of the Series IV in September 1961, when a Special Series (SS) or Vantage engine became available as an option. The SS incorporated a 9:1 compression ratio, larger valves and triple SU HD8 carburetors, producing 266 horsepower at 5,750 rpm, a gain of 26 horsepower over the standard unit.
Coincidentally with the Series IV’s introduction, the DB4 became available in convertible form. Passenger space was little changed, although there was more headroom than the saloon could offer. Combining Aston Martin’s traditional virtues of style and performance with the joys of open-air motoring, the DB4 convertible is most sought after and highly prized today.