The only Aston Martin usually associated with Graham Hill is the Project 212 GT Prototype that he drove at Le Mans in 1962, but he had in fact already driven two of the three types, if not the actual cars, featured in June’s MOTOR SPORT.
He had raced the ex-works, ex-Salvadori/Gilby DB3S/5 a couple of times early in 1957 for CT Atkins. A third place in a Brands Hatch club race was the only notable result of this alliance. Then in 1962 he was to team up with Roy to drive for John Coombs; there was some doubt as to whether the E-type, Ferrari GTO or DB4GT Zagato would be the most competitive in the GT class, so Coombs decided to have one of each!
Philip Porter, in his definitive history of the E-type, tells of a test session at Goodwood when Graham tried the new Zagato for the first time. He stopped after just two laps and then out-Wyered John Wyer himself by sitting in the car and saying nothing until Aston’s General Manager made the first move. When John finally asked Graham what he thought of the car he was told to get “a large sheet of paper” on which to record all the faults! The Coombs organisation only did one race Salvadori driving at Brands Hatch with the Zagato before selling it…
Personally I have always regarded the Zagato as a great disappointment. Whatever its great merits as a road car, its competition record was dismal. The type was given its race debut by Stirling Moss in a Rob Walker entry at Goodwood (Easter Monday, 1961) but, like John Coombs, they ran it in just the one event. John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable persevered a couple of years and provided us with all those fabulous photos of Jim Clark, but the only race the team won was one where the two Ferraris entered both non-started and the only opposition came from under-developed E-types. The cars’ failures did lead to something however. They encouraged David Brown to come back into racing with the Project series in 1962-3. Now they really were among Aston’s finest.
I am yours, etc
David Cole, Oakley, Rutland