Surely in anyone’s top five of the most desirable cars ever made, the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was launched with one aim in mind – to beat Ferrari on the race track. Launched at the 1960 London Motor Show, it was built on the shortened chassis of the ‘standard’ DB4 GT and was clothed in a lightweight aluminium body of quite staggering beauty, handmade by Italian coachbuilder Zagato.
In the hands of legendary racers like Roy Salvadori and Jim Clark, it had a distinguished competition history and was capable of 160mph thanks to its 314bhp straight-six 3,670cc engine. Only 19 cars were produced between 1960 and 1963, any one of which would now set you back around £3 million. Another batch of four ‘Sanction’ cars were produced in the late 1980s by well known Aston Martin specialist, Richard Williams, with the assistance of the Aston Martin factory, using up unused chassis numbers. A lottery win is also required to buy one of these – if you can find one.
This particular recreation was handmade by Bill Monk, a marque specialist with over 45 years’ experience of restoring all kinds of Astons, especially those from the Feltham era. Built for his own personal use, it has a high quality GRP body moulded from a genuine Zagato that he was restoring in the 1980s. The 3.2-litre supercharged engine, running gear and dash instruments are all taken from a body-damaged 1997 Aston Martin DB7 that had covered 57,000 miles.
The gearbox is a five-speed manual Jaguar unit (just fitted with a brand new clutch) and the chassis is a box section ladder frame type to Bill’s own design. It rides on specially made 15” stainless steel wire wheels that preserve the gearing and speedo calibration of the donor DB7. The interior is trimmed in grey hide with matching Wilton carpets.
All 19 original Zagatos were subtly different, as befits handmade cars, and Bill’s is no exception having slightly flared wheelarches to accommodate the wider DB7 running gear and a curved rear valance through which the exhausts protrude – the only unresolved part of the original design which, dare one say it, always looked slightly unfinished at the rear. Otherwise it is totally true to the size and shape of an original car and certainly looks absolutely stunning.
The car is registered as a 1971 Aston Martin on a donor Aston Martin log book and is therefore exempt from road tax. A VIN plate from the donor DB7 is discreetly fixed inside the glove box to make ordering replacement mechanical parts easy. Currently taxed and MOTd the car is said to drive superbly and is ready for immediate use. Unlike the original cars, it even has a usable boot that will easily swallow the luggage of two people so it is practical enough to take on holiday.
Needless to say, this is an exceptionally fast machine with a terrific power-to-weight ratio from its 335bhp supercharged engine. The standard of workmanship throughout is all of very high quality and you could not hope to replicate this car at the guide price suggested today. With classic looks and modern mechanicals this is a unique and hugely desirable machine that you won’t be afraid to use (unlike a real one) and is guaranteed to upstage everything in the golf club car park!