The pitfalls of a real deal: Aston Martin DBR1

Few things are more alluring than a real DRB1 but, as Simon de WBurton shows, there’s another option for ownership of a classic

ASM R1 Le Mans front

A real DBR1 could be a double-edged sword for a collector, making the ASM R1 more appealing

What price history, originality and rarity? In the case of Aston Martin DBR1 chassis number one, around $22.5m (£17.9m) – the sum paid at R.M Sotheby’s Monterey auction in 2017. Although not one of the DBR1s that achieved Aston’s one-two Le Mans finish in 1959, the car took the chequered flag at that year’s Nürburgring 1000Kms and was driven by stars such as Roy Salvadori, Les Leston, Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss.

It was also one of five DBR1s built, which ypifies the type of provenance that elevates a car from highly desirable classic, worth tens or hundreds of thousands, into an asset worth millions and attainable only to the very few.

But values are undergoing adjustments: insurance companies are imposing strict rules and high premiums on the rarest cars. With the danger of an accident leading to a loss of originality, and the care such a car as a genuine DBR1 requires, one can ask, what’s the point? What’s the point in tying up millions in a car, potentially a serious liability, even if it is a milestone in motor sport history?

It’s a question that seems all the more relevant with today’s increasingly excellent ‘re-creations,’ many of which combine superb accuracy with the finish, dependability and improved driving experience only achievable through modern engineering.

ASM R1 rear

ASM’s Le Mans version is faithfully modelled on the lines of an original DBR1

So, how does a superb, brand-new, £90,000 replica of a DBR1 appeal? Such a car could be in your garage within a year thanks to the skills of Andrew Soar and his team at AS Motorsport, which builds its ASM R1 Le Mans evocations from scratch in a dedicated building on Soar’s family farm in Norfolk.

Aluminium or GRP bodies can be specified, the former can raise prices towards £200,000, and are fitted to a unique spaceframe chassis, designed and assembled in-house.

ASM R1 Le Mans wheel

Knock-on wire wheels are part of the replica’s accurate detailing

Adjustable, rose-jointed suspension and disc brakes ensure handling and stopping reach modern safety standards while emulating much of the feel of the original DBR1. Power comes from either a Jaguar XK engine or, for the purists, a genuine Aston Martin unit. In either case, the motors are rebuilt from the ground up and can be tuned to each buyer’s specifications. Add in a choice of gearboxes, a superb, period-style interior and 16-inch wheels, and you’re left with a car that’s possibly a good deal better than an original DBR1, and which can be reliably driven on the road and won’t give insurers the vapours. Well, it makes sense to us.

ASM R1 Le Mans

On sale at AS Motorsport, Bressingham, Norfolk IP22 2AP.  Tel: +44(0) 1379 688356.

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