1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538

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Lot 244
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe
Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538

US$ 200,000 - 250,000
£ 150,000 - 180,000
Amended
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe
Chassis no. DB4/527/R
Engine no. 370/538
Named for its creator and a Buckinghamshire hillclimb, the Aston Martin owes much of its development to a man who lent it only his initials. Lionel Martin was a London dealer for Singer. He had raced specials at Aston Hill, near Aston Clinton. In 1913, he and his dealership partner Robert Bamford decided to become manufacturers. The first car was an amalgam of Coventry-Simplex and Isotta Fraschini. Before they could build any others, World War I intervened.

After the war, Martin and Bamford designed a new Aston Martin. Successful in racing, it sold poorly. Bamford and Martin both left, but Augustus "Bert" Bertelli designed a series of sports cars, which achieved moderate success through 1937. Total production before World War II amounted to some 700 cars.

In 1947, the company was sold to Sir David Brown, a gear and tractor manufacturer who had recently acquired Lagonda. The first car under his stewardship, the 2-Liter Sports of 1948, used a tubular frame and a pushrod four-cylinder engine designed by Claude Hill, who had been Bertelli's understudy before the war. In 1950 came the DB2 (for "David Brown," the 2-Liter Sports being retrospectively called DB1). It used a six-cylinder double overhead cam engine, developed for Lagonda by W.O. Bentley, in one of Hill's tubular chassis. Production continued through 1953. The DB2/4, available as a 2+2 hatchback or a drophead, arrived in 1953. It used the same 2.6-liter engine, later enlarged to 2.9 liters. DB3 was a racing model, which was moderately successful in the 1950s.

The DB4 of 1958 was an entirely new car. A new dual-overhead cam six designed by Tadek Marek displaced 3,670cc. Fed by twin S.U. carburetors it made 240bhp. Front suspension was independent with coil springs and wishbones; the live rear axle used coil springs with a watt linkage. Steering was by rack-and-pinion. The Motor realized a top speed of nearly 140mph. Body styles included a two-seat coupe and 2+2s with both hard and soft tops.

This particular car is a right-hand drive example incorporating the advances introduced on the Series 2 version (chassis numbers 'DB4/251-600' inclusive) in January 1960. These included a front-hinged bonnet, radiator blind, bigger front brake calipers and an enlarged sump.

James Forshaw of Aston Service Dorset has kindly provided a copy of the original build sheet for DB4/527/R, which confirms that it was originally built as it is today and had matched engine number 370/528. Aston Martin issued its guarantee on January 1, 1961 and it was sold through agents Century Motors, to W.J.F. Tillyard of Manchester Street, London, finished in Peony – Dark Red livery and with a black Connolly leather interior.

In true British tradition, Mr. Tillyard had his Aston Martin registered with a 'personal' license plate 'T 999' – a number that dated from the very early 1900s, so may well have passed down within his family and graced other generations of sports cars in his family, or perhaps was purchased to grace this car, either way it would certainly have been distinctive in the 'Swinging Sixties' in London! Servicing was carried out by the works through to 1963, by which time its mileage had risen to 22,520, and a change of ownership is recorded on the factory sheet to E.E. Lazarus of London EC1, but this is not dated. From the 1992 Aston Martin Owner's Club Register, a later owner was A.E. Saunders to 1984, Mr. Tillyard clearing retaining his plate as it was then registered 'XNJ 998.

We understand that shortly after this the car left the U.K. for Japan, where it would remain for the next 2 decades and was for some time owned by an Aston Martin mechanic there. During its Japanese tenure, the car was restored cosmetically, as it was already restored when it arrived in America in the mid-2000s. The car was purchased for the Oldenburg Family Collection at Bonhams auction here at Quail Lodge in August 2006.

Cosmetically, 'DB4/527/R' makes a strong impression. It is finished in a non-original but extremely attractive metallic grey that suits it admirably and is complemented by a black leather interior. The interior presents itself very nicely: dashboard, gauges and steering wheel are excellent, while the carpets have been renewed in grey wool and are exceptional. The leather upholstery is generally clean, though it was noted that at some point the interior seems to have been lightly customized with sewn in panels on the headrests, which have now been removed, leaving light blemishes. The headliner and rear parcel shelf have been re-covered in a suede-like material. Structurally, the car appears sound, but it was noted that there is some corrosion evident beneath the car, which may require attention in due course. It is reported to be in excellent mechanical condition, driving extremely well with regulation oil pressure, good gearbox and brakes, and no smoke.

A benchmark example of the model, the DB4 runs and drives superbly, it is in pleasing cosmetic order, but not too nice to use regularly.

Saleroom notices

  • The title for this lot is in transit.
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series II 2+2 Coupe  Chassis no. DB4/527/R Engine no. 370/538
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