Aston Martin DB4

Aston Martin DP215
Aston Martin DB4
Aston Martin DB4 GT Touring
Aston Martin DB4 GT

Total Production: 74

Aston Martin DB4
Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Aston Martin DB4
Aston Martin DB4 GT
Aston Martin DB4
Aston Martin DB4
Aston Martin DB4

Total Production: 1,204
The DB name came from the name David Brown (later Sir David Brown), an individual who had purchased the Aston Martin Company.

The DB4 series was built from 1958 through 1963. A total of 1040 vehicles and five series were produced during this time frame. The coachwork was performed by Touring of Milan, Italy. The body panels were hand made of aluminum mounted on a steel tube frame and featuring the Superleggera method of construction. Superleggera means super light.

Initially, the DB4 series used disc brakes made by Dunlop but later switched to the Girling made disc brakes. Each of the five series featured improvements, design modifications, and technological enhancements. All of the DB4s received their power from a Tadek Mereck designed, 3670 cc, six-cylinder, all aluminum engine. The 220-240 horsepower engine could propel the car to a top speed of around 140 mph and the go from zero to sixty in just 8.5 seconds. David Brown, the owner of Aston Martin, produced the overdrive transmission.

The standard DB4 body style was the Saloon version; however, the Vantage series could be ordered and featured higher horsepower ratings.

In 1959, Aston Martin introduced the DB4 GT series. This series featured a shorter wheelbase and higher output than the standard DB4 Saloon. Due to the shorter wheelbase there were no rear seats. The engine had three twin-choke Weber Carburetors and twin distributors increasing the output of the standard engine to 302 bhp. This extra horsepower increased the top speed to around 153 mph and the zero-to-sixty time of around six seconds.

Other distinguishable features of the GT series were the exposed, racing style, fuel filer caps located on the rear wings. Perspex headlamp covers adorned the front of the vehicles.

The GT series was produced from 1959 through 1963. During this time period, 75 models were produced. The Italian coachbuilder Zagato was tasked at producing the bodies of 19 of these vehicles.

In 1960 the Zagato bodied cars were introduced at the London Motor Show. These hand-built vehicles were built to outperform Ferrari's. The short wheelbase, light weight construction, 314 horsepower engine, and a top speed of 160 mph made them very competitive.

The DB4 Drophead Coupe was produced from 1961 through 1963. During this time frame, 70 examples were created. They were convertibles built on the DB4 Saloon body style using the same aluminum, Superleggera body construction. The standard six-cylinder 3670 cc engine was now producing 260 horsepower. Thirty-two of the convertibles received the Vantage specifications which increased the output of the engine. The overdrive transmission was also available as an option.

In the 1960's, the DB4 Drophead Coupe was used in the movie 'The Italian Job.'

During the 1980's, an Aston Martin specialist named Richard Williams produced the remaining DB4's using the assistance of the Aston Martin factory and unused chassis.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010

Model Production *

* Please note, dates are approximate

Related Articles and History

The Aston Martin DB4 was first introduced to the public at the 1958 Paris Salon and powered by a 3.7-liter straight eight and clothed in an aluminum body. Touring of Milan was tasked with creating the design. The Aston Martin DB4 GT was introduced a year later at the London Motor Show and was based on the race winning prototype SP199/1. 1959 was a great year for Aston martin as they had won the World Sportscar Championship title. The GT prototype inaugural race was in May of 1959 at Silverstone where it finished in first place at the hands of Stirling Moss.

The Aston Martin DB4 GT was lighter, shorter, and more powerful than the base DB4. In an effort to reduce the weight of the vehicle the bodywork was made thinner using 18 gauge alloy. The wheelbase was reduced by 13cm which made the rear seats obsolete. In total, 200 pounds had been shed. Under the graceful hood was the six-cylinder engine modified with twin plug cylinder heads and triple dual-throat Weber 45 DCOE carburetors. Horsepower was raised to over 300, bettering the standard DB4 engine by 60 horsepower, and making it the most powerful British sports car of its era.

Most of the DB4 GT's had Plexiglas rear screen and quarter windows. Disc brakes could be found on all four corners, as could the alloy Boranni wire wheels. The roll-down windows were frameless within the doors. A high-capacity fuel tank could be found in the rear. Quick-release 'Monza' fuel fillers were placed atop of the rear wings. All of this equated to a car that had a top speed over 150 mph and could race from zero-to-sixty in just over 6 seconds. Visually, in comparison to the DB4, the GT has cowled headlights and a very prominent hood scoop.

The interior of the cars were race inspired but still filled with luxurious amenities.

The DB4 GT was produced from 1959 through 1963 with only 75 examples being produced plus another 19 examples bodied by Zagato. 45 were right-hand drive and 30 were left hand drive. The Zagato bodied cars were necessary to keep pace with Ferrari's 250 GT machines. Zagato was legendary in the world or automotive weight reduction and their skills were in high demand. Ercole Spada of Zagato was given the task of performing the necessary modifications. Even after Zagato worked his magic, the Ferrari's proved to competitive for the DB4 GT's. Though the DB4 GT's suffered from oversteer and and low rigidity, its Achilles' heal was the fact that it was born from a road going car.

The final DB4 GT constructed was sent to Bertone who fitted it with a body and had it sent to the 1961 Geneva and Turin Motorshows. It was styled by Giorgietto Giugiaro who was in the infancy of his career. This, the 76th and final DB4 GT produced, was given an attractive steel body.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007

Aston Martin unveiled their DB4 at the 1958 Paris Salon. This was a big achievement for the small British manufacturer as it was a totally new car on a completely new steel platform chassis and disc brakes on all four corners. It was powered by an alloy twin-cam 3.7-liter straight-six engine and bodied by Touring of Milan in an elegant fastback aluminum body. This combination was performance-oriented with all the necessary criteria such as the potent engine, lightweight body, excellent stopping power provided by the disc brakes, and finished in an attractive and elegant fastback configuration. It was state-of-the-art at the time, a modern masterpiece of British engineering and Italian styling.

Harold Beech was involved with the engineering of the chassis, including the fitting of an independent front suspension and a live rear axle located by trailing arms and a Watt's linkage. The coachwork was constructed by Aston Martin under license from Touring

At the September 1959 London Motor Show, Aston Martin introduced their competition variant dubbed the DB4 GT. It was based on the race-winning prototype SP199/1. In the very capable hands of Sterling Moss, the GT prototype had won its first outing in May 1959 at Silverstone.

The Aston Martin DB4 GT sat on a shortened wheelbase, made lighter, and given a more powerful engine. The engine was given a higher compression ratio, twin-plug cylinder heads, and triple dual-throat Weber 45 DCOE carburetors. Weight was reduced by 91 kg overall, partly by reducing the wheelbase by around 5 inches. The Standard DB4 produced 240 horsepower while the DB4GT produced 302 BHP making it the most powerful British car of its era. Top speed was achieved at just over 150 mph and zero-to-sixty took a mere 6.1 seconds.

The DB4 and DB4GT were visually distinguishable by the faired in headlamps, a feature that was later made standard on the DB5. The DB4 GT had quick-release 'Monza' fuel fillers on each of the rear wings, bumper overrider deletes, and frameless roll-down windows within the doors. The interior of the DB4 GT was rather luxurious with Connolly hides and Wilton wool carpeting. An oil temperature gauge was added to the array of instrumentation, along with an 8000 RPM tachometer.

The Ferrari SWB 250 Berlinetta was a very dominant and competitive car in FIA racing, but the DB4 GTs were able to mount a strong challenge in 1959 by both the Works team and Jon Ogier's Essex Racing stable. Individuals usually found behind the wheel included Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Roy Salvadori, and Innes Ireland.

Production of the Aston Martin DB4 GT lasted from 1959 through 1963 with a total of 75 examples produced, plus an additional 19 created by Zagato in various configurations. 45 of the 75 were right-hand drive with the other 30 having left-hand drive. Six of the 75 are known to have full Factory lightweight construction details. These six are further divided into two additional categories. The first group consisting of four examples were originally ordered as 'Build Sheet GTs' meaning they were ordered with this lightweight specification. Two were Right Hand Drive and the other two were Left Hand Drive. The other lightweight group is referred to as 'BESPOKE' or Service Department created GTs. Meaning they were modified to the lightweight specification after the factory had performed the original build.

Thus, most of the DB4 GTs created were suitable for competition or Grand Touring, for road or track.

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007