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Aston Martin announces continuation series DB4 GT

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An original Aston Martin DB4 GT. Photos courtesy Aston Martin.

In May of 1959, Aston Martin debuted a new DB4-derived GT prototype at Silverstone, and in the hands of Stirling Moss, the car captured a GT class win and set a lap record in the process. Five months later, the Aston Martin DB4 GT made its public debut at the Earls Court Motor Show, and in four years of production just 75 examples were built (according to Aston Martin, though other sources say 94). In 2017, 54 years after production ended, Aston Martin has announced a continuation series of track-only DB4 GT models, in a production run of just 25 examples.

The original DB4 GT was constructed to deliver victory in GT-class competition. Weight savings would be key to the car’s success, so engineers removed five inches from the DB4’s wheelbase, and with it, 185 pounds. Bodywork was crafted of an aluminum-magnesium alloy, hung on a tubular steel frame, and most DB4 GT models were built without rear seats, a concession to weight savings and the diminished interior room. While DB4 models received exposed headlamps, DB4 GT models gained headlamps integrated into the fenders and covered with clear plastic, a design that would later appear on the DB5.

Aston Martin DB4 GT

The DB4 GT model was also defined by its higher-performance capabilities. Starting with the same 3.7-liter inline six-cylinder block used in the DB4, the GT model received a new twin-plug cylinder head that retained the original’s double overhead-camshaft design. Fed by a trio of Weber 45DCOE carburetors, the revised six-cylinder produced a claimed output of 302 horsepower, or 62 horsepower more than the road-going DB4. The sole transmission was a close-ratio four-speed, which sent torque to a Powr-Lok limited-slip differential equipped with 3.54:1 gears.

Compared to the DB4, the GT’s performance was noticeably improved. A DB4 could dash from 0-100 MPH in 30 seconds, while the GT could do the same in 20 seconds. The run from 0-60 took 9.0 seconds in the DB4, on the way to a 140 MPH top speed, while the DB4 GT accelerated from 0-60 in 6.2 seconds and topped out at 154 MPH. Lightweight DB4 GTs, of which just a handful were built (Aston Martin claims eight), offered even higher performance.

Aston Martin DB4 GT

That’s quite a legacy to live up to, and Aston Martin promises its continuation cars, based upon the DB4 GT Lightweight model, will blend modern performance, handling, braking and safety features with the “feel and character” of the original. Like the GTs built six decades back, the continuation cars will use lightweight body panels (crafted from aluminum) suspended on a tubular steel frame. “Digital technology,” presumable computer-aided design and manufacturing, will help to create the new pieces, which will still be formed and fitted by hand.

Aston Martin isn’t saying much about the specific revisions to the 3.7-liter inline six, though the automaker does quote an output of 340 horsepower, up 38 from the original variant. A close-ratio four-speed transmission, true to the original, will be the sole available gearbox, and once again power will be sent to the rear wheels via a limited slip differential. Specific details on the suspension and brakes aren’t mentioned either, but it’s likely the continuation cars will utilize a live rear axle, independent front suspension and disc brakes in all four corners, quite possibly from original supplier Girling.

Aston Martin DB4 GT

The original DB4 GT on track.

Aston Martin isn’t quoting performance numbers for the continuation cars (which will bear sequential serial numbers, carrying on from 0202R, the last DB4 GT built), but all will be reserved for track use only. Included in the price is a two-year track-driving program, hosted at circuits around the world, allowing new DB4 GT owners to arrive and drive, while receiving pointers from the company’s works drivers (like Darren Turner, a multiple Le Mans class-winner).

The DB4 GT continuation cars will be built by Aston Martin Works, the heritage arm of the British automaker. Of the project, Aston Martin Works commercial director Paul Spires said,

Built in our recently refurbished, state-of-the-art facilities in Newport Pagnell, the DB4 G.T. Continuation is hand built in the same location as its illustrious forebears, and marks the return of production to the historic home of Aston Martin for the first time since the last Vanquish S was completed in 2007. Combining the authenticity of a hand-crafted David Brown era car with sympathetic application of modern engineering advancements and performance enhancements, the DB4 G.T. Continuation is a fusion of classic design and contemporary methods.

Such history doesn’t come cheap. The 25 customers fortunate enough to procure a continuation DB4 GT will pay £1.5 million ($1.9 million based upon current exchange rates) for the cars, which won’t be road-legal in any country. On the other hand, it’s about half the going rate for an original DB4 GT at auction, so for well-heeled buyers favoring performance over history, the continuation DB4 GTs may prove to be a relative bargain.