Arguably Britain’s first Gran Turismo worthy of the appellation, the svelte 140 mph DB4 made its debut at the 1958 London Motor Show. Successor to the DB Mk III, it was the first production Aston Martin to use both Tadek Marek’s new twin overhead camshaft, al aluminum straight six engine and an aluminum body designed by Touring of Milan featuring its Superleggera lightweight construction. Beneath its sleek and beautiful lines, the 3,670 cc engine developed 240 bhp, while the new platform chassis featured independent coil spring/wishbone front suspension, a coil-sprung live rear axle located by Watt linkage and parallel trailing arms, and all round disc brakes.
The DB4’s somewhat hasty introduction resulted in various improvements during its five year life; by the time the first arrived in Series II guise in 1960, however, there was also a significant addition, the sensational DB4GT. First shown at the 1959 London Motor Show, the DB4GT was Aston Martin’s competition answer to the Ferrari 250 SWB; by then the prototype had already won its first race with Stirling Moss at Silverstone, the first of many notable successes.
Although very similar to the DB4, the beautifully proportioned and extremely fast 153 mph DB4GT – it was also capable of 0-60 mph and 0-100 mph in 6.1 and 14.1 seconds respectively – differed considerably with a five inch shorter wheelbase and body length (overriders were also deleted) than the Series I DB4, making it a pure two seater. Other major changes were a twin plug per cylinder engine with twin distributors producing 302 bhp, a twin plate clutch, close ratio gearbox, Girling rather than Dunlop brakes and wider Borrani wire wheels. Very much a limited edition model, and consequently always highly sought after, just 94 examples of the DB4GT – of which 19 were clothed in lighter Zagato coachwork – were built before production ceased in 1963.
First registered in July 1960, this quite superb example pictured here acquitted itself well in UK club competition between 1961 and ’76; thereafter 537 CUA successfully competed in VSCCA evens in the USA before it was acquired by former major Aston Martin Lagonda shareholder Peter Livanos. A full mechanical restoration ensued, its worth demonstrated by a first place at Lime Rock. In late 1987, the car was sold to E. Henning who had it fully race prepared by Livanos’ AMVRS company, including a single plug RS Williams 4.2 liter DB4 engine: 1988 then saw 537 DUA record two 1st places and one 2nd in SVRA round prior to a concours external restoration in 1989 earning 1st place at that year’s AMOC Concours d’Elegance at Monterey. Further races, and participation in the 1989 Colorado Grand Tour, followed before purchase in October 1993 by the current owner, the AMOC USA’s Director of Competition.
A 12 month comprehensive and meticulous restoration was then undertaken by Aston specialist PTR Inc, including a repaint in correct Titanium Metallic Grey with black leather interior and the substitution of all racing components by original standard parts; this included the rebuild and fitment of 537 CUA’s original twin plug engine. Following completion of the restoration in December last year, the car made its public “debut” at the AMOCDB4GT World Reunion at Aston Martin’s Newport Pagnell factory last month. It then took part in the DB4GT display at the AMOC Silverstone St John Horsfall meeting and was an invited entry for the Mulberry Challenge at the Goodwood Festival of Speed; despite being completely standard, 537 CUA finished an impressive 3rd overall, beaten only by a Ferrari Testa Rossa and a Jaguar D-Type – both purpose built sports-racing cars!
Being sold to allow restoration of a factory DB4GT lightweight, this stunning Aston Martin comes with original build sheets and comprehensive history file.