1960 Aston Martin DB4 Series II
Documents: Italian Libretto
- Originally delivered to American sportsman Henry M. Dingley Jr.
- Very nicely restored in attractive colours
- An original left-hand-drive example
Whilst tractor and machine-tool manufacturer David Brown’s first DB2 series of road cars (1949–1958) was largely based upon pre-war technology, the DB4 Aston Martin was a totally new and thoroughly modern motor car. It was unveiled at the 1958 London Motor Show to rave reviews, and it proved to be a significant achievement for the small British manufacturer. The monocoque punt-type chassis, developed under Harold Beach, featured coil-over A-arm front suspension with an anti-sway bar and a live rear axle, which was located by trailing arms and a proper Watts linkage, as well as, of course, coil springs. The coachwork utilised the vaunted Carrozzeria Touring process, in which a skeleton of small-diameter steel tubing supported the all-alloy body panelling, which created a very light yet rigid structure. Although styled by Touring, the DB4’s sleek fastback body was actually produced by Aston’s own highly skilled panel beaters in Newport Pagnell.
The new DB4 engine was a rugged, alloy, six-cylinder DOHC unit of 3,670-cubic centimetre capacity that could produce approximately 240 brake horsepower at 5,500 rpm. This engine, designed by then recently hired engine-maven and Czech-born Tadek Merak, and its variants, would enjoy a decade-long life as the motive power for the DB4-, DB4 GT-, DB5-, and DB6-series Aston Martins. The lightweight, alloy-cased, four-speed synchromesh gearbox was an in-house design that had been built by David Brown’s gear and machine-tool division. Four-wheel disc brakes by Dunlop or Girling, depending on the model, provided immediate stops, especially when compared to the old DB2 series’ original drum brakes.
As they were effortlessly modern and breezily international, the original DB4 Series II Astons hit the sweet spot between Crown and Continent. In its 3 October 1958 issue, Autocar explained: “When the products which are raced bear such a close resemblance to those which can be bought by the public, only the most biased can deny the value of racing in improving the breed. It is no surprise that the DB4 is based on an engine which first appeared in the DBR-2 in some of last year’s races”.
CHASSIS NUMBER DB4/416/L
This example, chassis DB4/416/L, is one of only forty-five left-hand-drive Series II DB4s recorded in the 2005 AMOC Register. It was originally delivered in Bronze through famed New York dealer J.S. Inskip on 22 March 1961, as is noted on its Aston Martin Dorset build sheet, a copy of which is on file. Interestingly, its original owner is recorded as having been Henry M. Dingley Jr., a prominent manufacturer from Lewiston, Maine. In his off-hours, Mr Dingley was a prominent and skilled racing driver who participated in SCCA events, most prominently in a Lotus Eleven but also in an Aston Martin DB4 GT! His “road-specification” DB4 was undoubtedly suitable transportation to and from the track for such a distinguished sportsman.
The Aston was purchased by the present owner in California over 25 years ago, in 1989, and it was subsequently fully restored, being refinished more recently in Snow Shadow Grey, the famous and elegant Aston Martin colour of the era, over a very stylish red leather interior. The bodywork looks to be in superb condition throughout, with high-quality finishes and fit to its panels, and the upholstery within is fresh, tight, and inviting. The chrome bumpers, however, have not been refurbished and show some signs of age. The driver faces clear and correct Smiths gauges and a handsome wood-rimmed steering wheel. Under the bonnet, the engine bay remains clean and presentable.
With numerous improvements over the Series I, the Series II DB4 is considered by many to be the most attractive in appearance, with its deep bonnet air intake and cathedral taillights. This DB4 of intriguing provenance and quality presentation is still the ideal gentleman’s express that David Brown wished it would be. It is ready to appear outside a new owner’s club or at his or her favourite concours.