If you want a rare Aston Martin, and money isn’t an object, chances are you’ve already heard of the One-77. With only 77 examples being produced, the first real supercar from the British firm promises to be one of the most desirable Aston Martin’s ever.
But, for the true connoisseur, there’s nothing like the classic lines of the Aston’s of the ‘50s and ‘60s. The cars that first bore the styling cues still seen on today’s Astons, they’re the epitome of class and style. And they’re also amazingly difficult to purchase. And when the classic Aston you’re hunting for bears the badge “Superleggera” on the hood, it’s even more difficult to procure. Identifying the ultra-rare lightweight Astons intended primarily for racing usage, the news of one of these beauties coming up for sale is always newsworthy. And as you may have already surmised, that’s precisely what’s happened.
Available for auction at RM Auctions in Arizona, this DB4 GT Superleggera will be made available to the world’s ultra-wealthy this January. One of just six cars produced to GT Lightweight specification, the car features a tube-frame chassis under a hand-formed aluminum body. Similar to a standard DB4, the GT specification outfits the car with a 13-cm shorter wheelbase and a higher compression, twin-ignition 3.7L inline six fitted with dual Weber 45DCOE carbs. Producing 304 horsepower, the GT model was already a potent performer and the most powerful British car of the era.
Outwardly, the GT is distinguished by fared-in headlamps, a feature which was later made standard for the DB5 model. The rear screen and quarter windows were made of plexi-glass on many examples, bumper overriders were deleted and the roll-down windows were frameless within the doors. Twin, competition-style, quick-release "Monza" fuel fillers were added atop each of the rear wings, leading to a high-capacity fuel tank mounted in the boot.
Unlike the Aston's Italian arch-rival, the SWB 250 Berlinetta which had a rudimentary "race car" interior look, the DB4 GT's cockpit was luxuriously appointed to Aston Martin road car specifications, including Connolly hides and Wilton wool carpeting. The dash binnacle on the GT cars benefited from the addition of an oil temperature gauge in addition to the standard array of instruments, which included an 8,000 RPM tachometer.
DB4 GTs represented a strong challenge to the dominance of Ferrari in GT racing and enjoyed considerable success, raced from 1959 by both the Works team as well as John Ogier's Essex Racing Stable. Driven by the likes of Roy Salvadori, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark and Innes Ireland, these rare lightweight GTs earned their stripes on the racing circuits of the world.
Despite their rarity, the GT is still a popular entrant at major historic racing events such as the Goodwood Revival and the numerous Aston Martin Owners Club Championship race meetings. The DB4 GT has proven grand for touring in many of the long distance events which have become popular in recent years, such as the Colorado Grand, Tour de France and Tour D'Espagna.
Produced between 1959 and 1963, Aston Martin built 75 DB4 GTs (plus another 19 of the Zagato bodied variants). Of the 75 examples, 45 were supplied in right hand drive and 30 were left hand drive.
Of the 75 "standard" DB4 GTs, only six are known to have full Factory Lightweight construction details. The Lightweight concept came about when certain Aston dealers and major racing teams requested GTs which could be competitive with Ferrari's SWB 250 Berlinettas in international Grand Touring racing. The half-dozen Lightweights are divided into two sub-species. We can describe the first of these as "BUILD SHEET GTs" since they were originally ordered with this specification and are so described on the factory build sheets and in the Aston Martin Owners Club (AMOC) Registry. The other lightweight type is the "BESPOKE" or Service Department created GTs. Ex-Aston Martin Chief Engineer and Head of Racing Ted Cutting clarified the two types in a previous letter:
"The cars ordered and built as lightweights from the start were so described on their build sheets and completed by the Competition Department or in some cases by the Service Department, depending on the work load of each group at that time. The "Bespoke" GT chassis were modified to lightweight spec after build completion, but before their final assembly by the service shop."