20-21 January 2011
1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series IV Vantage
- Chassis no. DB4961L
Sold for $352,000
- Very rare in left-hand drive, one of only 45 Series IV Vantage models built
- Sensible upgrades for drivability, including a Harvey Bailey handling kit
- Subject to comprehensive German restoration, including detailed chassis
The Aston Martin DB4 was unveiled at the 1958 Paris Salon. A totally new car, the introduction of the DB4 was a significant achievement for the small British manufacturer. The specification included a completely new steel platform chassis with disc brakes all around and a freshly developed alloy twin-cam 3.7-liter straight-six engine, all clothed in an elegantly proportioned fastback aluminum body designed by Touring of Milan. Overall, the DB4 was state-of-the-art for its time, a masterpiece of robust British engineering in combination with exquisite Italian styling. Of all the postwar Aston Martins, Sir David Brown’s gracefully sleek DB4 is certainly one of the most admired and became the template for the entire line of DB4, DB5 and DB6 which remained in production until 1970 and elevated Aston Martin on the international stage.
The chassis was engineered under the watchful eye of Harold Beech and features independent front suspension and a live rear axle well-located by trailing arms and a Watt’s linkage. The body construction utilizes the vaunted Touring Superleggera process, which consists of a skeleton made up from small diameter steel tubing covered by hand-formed aluminum alloy body panels. The coachwork was constructed by Aston Martin under license from Touring at its newly dedicated production facility in Newport Pagnell.
'Vantage' has been part of the Aston Martin lexicon since 1950 and its first use with the introduction of the higher-specification engine for the DB2. Since then it has been used to indicate many different levels of enhancement, but the common denominator has always been performance, up to and including the V8 Vantage which commemorates the first appearance of a powerful V-8 in their current entry-level offerings.
In the case of DB4s, there was no Vantage option until the so-called fourth series cars. These are outwardly identifiable by the slotted grille in combination with the better integrated, flatter bonnet scoop and the recessed triple stacked taillights, all features which carried over to the DB5. With the Series IV cars came the introduction of the 'Special Series' engine, which added a third SU HD8 carburetor, a higher compression ratio (9:1) and larger valves, which boosted horsepower by over 10 percent to a quoted 266 bhp, a useful increase. Most – but not all – 'SS'-engine equipped DB4s were also enhanced with the attractive 'faired in' headlamp nose popularized by the iconic DB4GT and also carried over to the DB5. It is these covered headlamp versions of the Series IV cars, 45 in all, which were referred to as Vantage models by the factory. The DB4 Vantage models also featured the DB4GT dashboard instruments, identifiable by their separate dials for each function, and the addition of an oil temperature indicator, as the SS engine and indeed most DB4s by then were equipped with oil coolers. By the time the next and final series of DB4s was introduced, the body had grown longer and taller and was fitted with smaller, wider 15-inch wheels, presaging the dimensions of the forthcoming DB5. Therefore, the Series IV Vantage models are the only production DB4s to combine the original DB4 proportions with the attractive covered headlamp nose, along with the high performance motor. To many aficionados, this rare model has become the connoisseur's choice.
Rarer yet in original left-hand drive, 961/L was originally sold by Garage Mirabeau in Paris to its first owner, Edith Waters of Neuilly sur Seine. According to the factory build sheet (a copy of which is supplied with the car), a factory service was performed in April 1972, with the DB4 showing 67,138 kms as mileage. The next owner of record was Rene Welter of Luxembourg, followed by Walter Peter Mottl of Germany. Mr. Mottl was an Aston Martin Owners Club member and enthusiast, having participated with the car in club slalom races in 1985. By this time the car is recorded in the AMOC Register with engine block 370/1033/SS, suggesting it was replaced by the factory or perhaps otherwise, which is the number the engine carries today.
Noted German collector and dealer Michael Brinkert was the owner during the ’90s, during which time a comprehensive restoration of 961/L was performed to an impressive standard. By 2001, the DB4 was imported to the US by Autosport Designs and sold to its most recent owner, a resident of Charleston, South Carolina. While in his ownership, the car has received regular, expert maintenance by Andy Greene in Savannah, Georgia and specialist support by Aston Martin experts Steel Wings in Hopewell, New Jersey. A thick document file accompanies the car with tracking invoices for both professional care and some desirable improvements. These include the fitment of a Harvey Bailey handling kit which includes the popular upgrade to Koni rear shock absorbers, a hidden Crane electronic ignition system and a high torque starter, complemented by a virtually fresh set of deluxe TRS five-point racing harnesses.
The quality of the DB4's restoration remains unmistakable today, as inspiring underneath as up above, with no evidence of rust visible on the well-finished chassis. Paint, brightwork and general finish also belie the age of its refurbishment, and it is indeed cosmetically presentable for just about any purpose short of national concours level.
Starting and running 'on the button,' tracking straight and stopping as it should, 961/L produces strong power and is joyful to drive. Striking yet elegant in its classic silver livery, it is extremely attractive with its contrasting blue leather seats and plush wool carpeting. The finishing touches are the optional 'three-eared' knock-offs fitted to the correct chromed wire wheels.
Aston Martin DB4 Vantage 961/L represents an exceptional opportunity to acquire, own and enjoy a classic DB-series Aston in its preferred specification. The odometer shows 38,650 kms (presumably 138,650 kms or approximately 85,000 miles). Maintained and cherished by its last owner of ten years, it comes equipped and sorted for driving appeal, with a recent inspection by Steel Wings, and is complete with factory jack, hammer, faithful reproduction leather tool roll, owners handbook and workshop manual.
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