Image credits: © Aston Martin.

1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT

The Aston Martin DB4 was launched at the London Motor Show in 1958. It was comprised of a completely new steel platform chassis with disc brakes all around, and a race-developed twin-cam six-cylinder engine, all clothed in an aluminum body designed by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan. The Superleggera body construction employed its own lightweight tubular structure to support the hand-formed aluminum-alloy body panels.

The DB4 was modern, state-of-the-art, and a masterpiece of British engineering combined with Italian styling. Its platform-type chassis had been engineered under the watchful eye of Harold Beech, and given an unequal-length wishbones front suspension with a live rear axle located by Watts linkage instead of its predecessor's Panhard rod.

The factory quickly developed a lightweight version suitable for racing; the resulting DB4GT debuting at the 1959 London Motor Show. The model had proven itself in competition earlier that year when the prototype driven by Stirling Moss ('DP/199') won its first race at Silverstone.

Modifications to the DB4 GT included removing 5-inches from the wheelbase and replacing the rear seats with a luggage platform on all but a small number of cars. They had lighter 18-guage bodywork which helped reduce the overall weight of the car by around 200 lbs.

Powering the DB4GT was a tuned engine equipped with a twin-plug cylinder head and triple Weber 45DCOE carburetors and offering a claimed 302 horsepower. This was a vast increase over the standard car's claimed 240 bhp. Depending on the overall gearing, the DB4 GT had a 153 mph top speed with 0-60 mph taking 6.1 seconds.

Exterior modifications, such as the faired-in headlamps with Perspex covers (a feature later found on the DB5 and DB6) helped distinguish the DB4GT from its DB4 sibling. The rear screen and quarter windows were Perspex on many examples. The bumper over-riders were removed and the wind-down windows were frame-less within the doors. Twin Monza quick-release competition fuel fillers were added atop the rear wings, leading to a large-capacity fuel tank mounted flat in the trunk. GT models rode on lightweight Borrani 42-spoke wire wheels with alloy rims and three-ear 'knock-offs.' The interior of the GT's also received an oil temperature gauge as part of the standard complement.

By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2017

Vehicle Profiles

Coachwork: Touring

Chassis Num: DB4GT0168L

1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT Factory Lightweight has chassis number DB4GT0168L and is one of two factory lightweight DB4 GTs with left hand drive. It was ordered by Rex Woodgate of Aston Martin's North American operations. He was a man of many talents,....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Touring

This Aston Martin DB4 is a GT Zagato Replica 'Continuation Car.' It used a donor DB4 which was then shorted five inches to the correct 93-inch wheelbase, and a new Zagato body using the original buck, was hand formed in alloy. The steering, suspensio....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Touring

Chassis Num: DP199/1
Engine Num: 370/0184/GT

This particular example the prototype car, chassis number DP199/1 (there was never a /2). It was first used in March of 1959 and then taken to LeMans for the annual test on April 26 of 1959 in preparation of the 24-hour race that June. During the tes....[continue reading]

Coupe by Touring
Chassis #: DB4GT0168L 
Coupe by Touring
Coupe by Touring
Chassis #: DP199/1 


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 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 a 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 dominate 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 configuration. 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
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
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