Elegance as an art form

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Aston Martin’s beautiful DB4 GT is always a rarity, particularly in this instance

Few would argue that the Aston Martin DB4 GT is one of the best looking, best performing and most desirable classic road cars the company has ever produced. With just 75 originally built and offering a genuine 150mph top speed and considerably improved handling over the standard, longer, heavier DB4, it provided both ‘show’ and ‘go’ in one perfectly tailored package.

Indeed, a DB4 GT is one of those cars that any serious collector would wish to own – which made it all the more surprising when the 1961 example that should have been the star of RM Sotheby’s Battersea Park sale in early September was left on the shelf after bids (officially) stalled at £2.65m, £350,000 short of the minimum estimate. Not only was the car immaculate, it came with the added bonus of having starred alongside Peter Sellers – who might also have owned it – in the 1962 comedy caper The Wrong Arm of the Law.

But such playful provenance pales into insignificance when compared with that of this even more covetable DB4 GT that’s currently on the books at west London dealer Girardo & Co.

One of just 28 to leave the factory in left-hand-drive specification and one of only three finished in Elusive Blue, the 1960 car was originally supplied to Nîmes-based brothers René and Robert Bourrely, who quickly made it the only example of the model ever to enter the gruelling Tour de France Auto when they arrived at the Nice start line on September 15 of the same year.

Despite the event being dogged by rain and storms, the Bourrely brothers acquitted themselves admirably during the early stages of the eight-day marathon before a blown cylinder head gasket – caused by incorrectly torqued head bolts – put them out.

Having had the car repaired by Aston Martin (which logged full details of its appearance in the TdFA in paperwork that will be supplied to the buyer), the Bourrelys took part in the June 1962 Mont Ventoux hill climb where they achieved a creditable 18th in class and 32nd overall.

After this, the DB4 GTs competition history becomes hazy, despite the fact that it remained in the brothers’ ownership for another 24 years before being sold to a buyer living north-west of Paris.

He kept it until 1997, with the next owner retaining it for a dozen years, during which time he loaned it to none other than Sir Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori to drive in the Tour Auto retrospective.

The noted Swiss collector Jean-Pierre Slavic then acquired the car in 2009, quickly treating it to a full rebuild and a repaint in the original and correct colour that it wears today.

Having been in the hands of a Belgian collector since 2013, the car is now part of the Girardo stock list (rather than being offered on consignment), demonstrating the firm’s faith in what is, undoubtedly, one of the best and most interesting DB4 GTs ever offered for sale (outside the Zagato-bodied specials and the one-off, Bertone-designed ‘Jet’ coupé).

Girardo & Co is asking £3.5m, firm, and someone will think it worth every penny…

www.girado.com


Ideas of March

Barn find perfect for some budget hillclimb action

March might not have been the most successful of Formula 1 constructors, but its F2 chassis were, for a time, genuine class leaders and have long been successfully adapted for hillclimb use.

Midlands-based Cherub Autos currently has one such car on offer in the form of an early 722 that was converted to hillclimb spec during the 1980s by a pair of co-owners who, at the time, were engineers for the ailing British Leyland and took advantage of unhindered access to the company’s parts bins to source and fit the car with a tuned engine based on an A-series.

One of the two was Rob Oldaker, who went on to hold a senior position at Cosworth before becoming engineering director at Rolls-Royce and Bentley (when both marques were owned by BMW).

Those who remember BL’s products of the era (which certainly wasn’t golden) will recall that the A-series powered the Austin Metro city car introduced in 1980. By 1983, that was available in 93bhp MG Metro Turbo guise.

And it’s a turbocharged A-series, sleeved to 1,124cc, that’s fitted to this March. According to contemporary records, was tweaked to produce a remarkable 240bhp.

Accompanying the March is correspondence from BL Special Tuning, indicating that the firm assisted with the supply of some parts.

Cherub discovered the car as a barn find and is offering it for sale in largely complete condition, albeit with a few parts missing (including its fuel tank). As winter projects go, however, it looks relatively straightforward and will reward the next owner with a car that’s not only of mild historic interest but which will, undoubtedly, be a hoot to drive and simple to maintain.

How else do you get into historic motor sport for less than £20,000 nowadays?

www.cherubautos.co.uk

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