The beautiful 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Here’s a little information about the beautiful 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato which was on display at the 2022 Concours of Elegance. One of our favourite cars of all time. You can see more Concours of Elegance news, reviews, videos and galleries here.
Combining the proven, high-performance DB4 GT mechanicals with a stylish and lightweight aluminium body by a renowned Italian coachbuilding house, the DB4 GT Zagato represented the best of all worlds. It’s the ultimate 1960s road and racing Aston Martin.
Designed to take on and beat the thunderous Ferrari 250 GT models in the World Sportscar Championship, it was the latest salvo in a fierce rivalry between the Brits and the Italians. When Aston Martin scored a 1-2 at Le Mans in 1959, Ferrari hit back with the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta. Aston Martin responded with the DB4 GT, which featured a lightweight alloy body, a shorter wheelbase and a fruitier engine courtesy of a high-compression set-up and three large Weber carburettors. Although this car proved a match for the Ferraris, Aston Martin wanted more and turned to Italy itself.
Zagato was famed for its lightweight bodies, particularly for Alfa Romeo, and Ercole Spada ended up crafting one of the iconic Aston Martin shapes, with smoothed lines, and a more aggressive look. Aston kept up the pressure in the performance stakes, garnering an extra 12bhp from the straight-six, while Zagato shaved 50kg from the car’s weight.
The car before you is chassis number 1093/R, the third of the MP209 ‘ultra-lightweight’ motorsport-orientated examples, finished in French Racing Blue. Built in 1962, the lightened special was delivered new to committed Aston Martin enthusiast and racer, Jean Kerguen.
Chassis 1093/R competed at Le Mans in 1962 and was running ninth with Kerguen and Jacques Franc’ Dewez behind the wheel until it retired after 12 hours. It returned a year later with a series of mechanical upgrades and aero additions including a small rear spoiler, designed to improve high-speed stability. With its svelte Zagato shape, the 3.7-litre straight-six was hitting over 170mph on the Mulsanne straight. However, a rear axle failure led to an accident after seven hours, and Kerguen and Franc were out. But there was some success, with second place at the Dakar 12 Hours that year and 18th overall in the Auvergne Trophy.
The following year the Zagato would be even more successful, although in rallying form, with first place finishes on the 1964 Snow & Ice Rally and the Rallye Routes du Nord. More recently, the car has been restored by Aston Martin specialist, RS Williams.