At Classic Car Story we are fascinated by the Golden Age of British Motorsport, and enjoy the fact that it is possible (every so often) to catch a whiff of the magic of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Here is such a chance to revel in the style, power and sheer excitement of that time, by seeing the story behind one of the most interesting and famous cars from the era writ large as it comes to sale for the first time in generations.
Reproduced below is the story as told by Bonhams, who will sell the car:
Surely 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato ‘2 VEV’ is the most celebrated of all of the Newport Pagnell marque’s early 1960s Grand Touring cars, and arguably the most important of all of Carrozzeria Zagato’s creations. This truly charismatic competition car is to be offered, absolutely fresh from 47 years in single- family ownership, at Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale on 13 July.
‘2 VEV’ is the most important DB4GT Zagato in history for several reasons. It is one of only two of the legendary ‘VEV’ quasi-works cars, and one of only three configured in the ultra-light DP209 specification. If that were not enough, it was also driven, in period, by the legendary racing superstar Jimmy Clark and comes from long-term, single-family ownership of nearly 50 years. These are attributes that none of the other 18 DB4GT Zagatos can boast.
A truly great car is judged by the company it keeps, and ‘2 VEV’ raced internationally throughout 1961-62 against rival Ferrari 250 GT SWB and Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinettas, vehicles which now count amongst the most valuable cars in the world. ‘2 VEV’ was campaigned by owner John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable team as a quasi- works Aston Martin entry against some of the most notable grids ever assembled in GT World Championship history. Driven by the revered Jim Clark, two-time Formula 1 World Champion Driver and winner of the world’s richest single race – the American Indianapolis 500-Miles – this is a ‘DP209’ lightweight version of the already rare Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato model – of which only 19 were made.
Jim Clark most notably drove ‘2 VEV’ for John Ogier and Aston Martin to confront the Ferraris in the RAC Tourist Trophy race at Goodwood in both 1961 and 1962. He brought the car home fourth behind contemporary team leader Roy Salvadori’s sister car ‘1 VEV’ in the 1961 race, but in 1962 he became involved in a multi-car accident. Just after re-joining the race following a pit stop, the future World Champion spun at Madgwick Corner in the path of race leader John Surtees’s Ferrari 250 GTO. The two cars collided and crashed into the safety bank, only to be joined a few laps later by Robin Benson’s Ferrari 250 GT SWB which careered into both of them. The scene, involving three of the most valuable 1960s motor cars in today’s market, has become one of the most celebrated and extraordinary images.
By that time, the DB4GT Zagato had already been reconfigured by Aston Martin into the factory’s latest ‘DP209′ ultimate-lightweight specification following a crash while being driven by Belgian Lucien Bianchi at Spa-Francorchamps earlier in 1962. In 1961, it had competed in the Le Mans 24-Hour race and the Paris 1,000 Kilometers in which it finished 6th, driven by Jim Clark/Innes Ireland. In 1962, the car was repaired after the TT incident to reappear at Montlhéry, this time co-driven by Jim Clark (yet again) and Sir John Whitmore.
The car later achieved tremendous success in historic racing throughout the 1980s-90s campaigned by Roger St John Hart and then, for the family, by prominent Aston Martin Owners’ Club personality Nick Cussons. It has now been in one caring stewardship for nearly 50 years. Its racing career has taken a gentler pace since a full Aston Martin factory restoration in the mid- 90s, but it remains ready for track action.
This is an opportunity to own one of the most charismatic, historically important and rarest of all great British racing GT cars, ex-Le Mans, ex-Goodwood TT, ex-Jimmy Clark and a truly great product of this most charismatic British marque, combining the best of British engineering with Italian styling flair.
James Knight, Group Motoring Chairman, commented: ‘Bonhams is absolutely delighted to be bringing this landmark vehicle to auction, which continues our history of offering the world’s most important and celebrated sports and collectors’ motor cars to market. It is, by some distance, the most valuable British motor car ever to be offered at a European auction, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for this historically significant vehicle.’
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world’s largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewelry. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit bonhams.com.
For the Bonhams press release please view here
And see The Goodwood Festival of Speed information here