Automotive

2017 Monterey Auction Preview 1: 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 (Chassis 1)

The DBR1 won the 1000 km Nürburgring race three times in a row.
The DBR1 won the 1000 km Nürburgring race three times in a row.
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The Aston Martin DBR1 was the stand-out sportscar in the world in 1959, winning the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 1000 km Nürburgring race and the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. This car was the first one built.
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The Aston Martin DBR1 was the stand-out sportscar in the world in 1959, winning the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 1000 km Nürburgring race and the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. This car was the first one built.
The Aston Martin DBR1 was the stand-out sportscar in the world in 1959, winning the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 1000 km Nürburgring race and the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. This car was the first one built.
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The Aston Martin DBR1 was the stand-out sportscar in the world in 1959, winning the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 1000 km Nürburgring race and the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. This car was the first one built.
The Aston Martin DBR1 was the stand-out sportscar in the world in 1959, winning the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 1000 km Nürburgring race and the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. This car was the first one built.
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The Aston Martin DBR1 was the stand-out sportscar in the world in 1959, winning the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 1000 km Nürburgring race and the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. This car was the first one built.
The DBR1 won the 1000 km Nürburgring race in 1957, 1958 and 1959, forever validating it had found the ideal balance of performance and handling to conquer endurance racing on the most demanding racetrack in the world. The car pictured won the third of those victories and helped dethrone Ferrari for the world title in 1959.
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The DBR1 won the 1000 km Nürburgring race in 19571958 and 1959, forever validating it had found the ideal balance of performance and handling to conquer endurance racing on the most demanding racetrack in the world. The car pictured won the third of those victories and helped dethrone Ferrari for the world title in 1959.
The DBR1 won the 1000 km Nürburgring race in 1957, 1958 and 1959, forever validating it had found the ideal balance of performance and handling to conquer endurance racing on the most demanding racetrack in the world.
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The DBR1 won the 1000 km Nürburgring race in 19571958 and 1959, forever validating it had found the ideal balance of performance and handling to conquer endurance racing on the most demanding racetrack in the world.
The DBR1 won the 1000 km Nürburgring race three times in a row.
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The DBR1 won the 1000 km Nürburgring race three times in a row.
A time capsule of state-of-the-art automobile construction
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A time capsule of state-of-the-art automobile construction
A time capsule of state-of-the-art automobile construction
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A time capsule of state-of-the-art automobile construction
A time capsule of state-of-the-art automobile construction
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A time capsule of state-of-the-art automobile construction
There's only one first one.
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There's only one first one.
The initial DBR1 engine was a 2.5 litre six, but the ideal balance was found when a 250 hp revision of the DB3S three litre six was fitted for the 1957 season. The victories began to happen from that point and the pinnacle was the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans where the DBR1 finished first and second, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin 
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The initial DBR1 engine was a 2.5 litre six, but the ideal balance was found when a 250 hp revision of the DB3S three litre six was fitted for the 1957 season. The victories began to happen from that point and the pinnacle was the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans where the DBR1 finished first and second, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin 
A time capsule of state-of-the-art automobile construction
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A time capsule of state-of-the-art automobile construction
A time capsule of state-of-the-art sports car construction
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A time capsule of state-of-the-art sports car construction
A time capsule of state-of-the-art sports car construction
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A time capsule of state-of-the-art sports car construction
Our detailed view of the 100 most expensive cars of all time offers some interesting perspective on the possibilities. One of the DBR1's contemporaries, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, held the outright auction record just a few years ago, and sports cars from the same 1950s sportscar racing arena populate the $15 million plus ranks with examples including the Ferrari 335S Spider, Ferrari 290 MM, Ferrari 375-Plus, Jaguar D-Type and slightly later, the Ferrari 250 GTO. The first DBR1 should push into that territory.
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Our detailed view of the 100 most expensive cars of all time offers some interesting perspective on the possibilities. One of the DBR1's contemporaries, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, held the outright auction record just a few years ago, and sports cars from the same 1950s sportscar racing arena populate the $15 million plus ranks with examples including the Ferrari 335S Spider, Ferrari 290 MM, Ferrari 375-Plus, Jaguar D-Type and slightly later, the Ferrari 250 GTO. The first DBR1 should push into that territory.
A time capsule of state-of-the-art sports car construction
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A time capsule of state-of-the-art sports car construction
Our detailed view of the 100 most expensive cars of all time offers some interesting perspective on the possibilities. One of the DBR1's contemporaries, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, held the outright auction record just a few years ago, and sports cars from the same 1950s sportscar racing arena populate the $15 million plus ranks with examples including the Ferrari 335S Spider, Ferrari 290 MM, Ferrari 375-Plus, Jaguar D-Type and slightly later, the Ferrari 250 GTO. The first DBR1 should push into that territory.
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Our detailed view of the 100 most expensive cars of all time offers some interesting perspective on the possibilities. One of the DBR1's contemporaries, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, held the outright auction record just a few years ago, and sports cars from the same 1950s sportscar racing arena populate the $15 million plus ranks with examples including the Ferrari 335S Spider, Ferrari 290 MM, Ferrari 375-Plus, Jaguar D-Type and slightly later, the Ferrari 250 GTO. The first DBR1 should push into that territory.
The lightweight spaceframe chassis construction of the DBR1 saw it weigh in at 1,765 lb (801 kg).
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The lightweight spaceframe chassis construction of the DBR1 saw it weigh in at 1,765 lb (801 kg).
A gem from a classic period in racing car design
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A gem from a classic period in racing car design
The initial DBR1 engine was a 2.5 litre six, but the ideal balance was found when a 250 hp revision of the DB3S three litre six was fitted for the 1957 season. The victories began to happen from that point and the pinnacle was the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans where the DBR1 finished first and second, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin
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The initial DBR1 engine was a 2.5 litre six, but the ideal balance was found when a 250 hp revision of the DB3S three litre six was fitted for the 1957 season. The victories began to happen from that point and the pinnacle was the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans where the DBR1 finished first and second, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin
The lightweight spaceframe chassis construction of the DBR1 saw it weigh in at 1,765 lb (801 kg).
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The lightweight spaceframe chassis construction of the DBR1 saw it weigh in at 1,765 lb (801 kg).
Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby await a pit stop during the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race
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Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby await a pit stop during the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race
Sir Sterling Moss samples the car he had driven some 50 years prior at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
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Sir Sterling Moss samples the car he had driven some 50 years prior at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
DBR1/1 changing drivers during the successful attempt for the 1959 1000 km Nurburgring race. That's Jack Fairman exiting and Sir Stirling Moss jumping in
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DBR1/1 changing drivers during the successful attempt for the 1959 1000 km Nurburgring race. That's Jack Fairman exiting and Sir Stirling Moss jumping in
DBR1/1 during the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans race with Roy Salvadori at the wheel
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DBR1/1 during the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans race with Roy Salvadori at the wheel
The 1958 Aston Martin DB4 was timed at 141 mph (227 km/h), becoming the world's fastest production road car. The following year the 1959 DB4 GT was timed at 152 mph (245 km/h), taking the world mantle once more and then, the 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was timed at 153.5 mph (247 km/h). From our feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.
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The 1958 Aston Martin DB4 was timed at 141 mph (227 km/h), becoming the world's fastest production road car. The following year the 1959 DB4 GT was timed at 152 mph (245 km/h), taking the world mantle once more and then, the 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was timed at 153.5 mph (247 km/h). From our feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.
Caroll Shelby, Sterling Moss, David Brown and Roy Salvadori gather on the podium after the 1959 R.A.C. Tourist Trophy  on September 5, 1959, the 24th running of the event sponsored by English newspaper, News of the World, and the fifth and final round of the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. In winning the race, Aston Martin emerged from a 3-way contest with Ferrari and Porsche as the 1959 World Champions. It was one of the greatest triumphs for the marque and David Brown.
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Caroll Shelby, Sterling Moss, David Brown and Roy Salvadori gather on the podium after the 1959 R.A.C. Tourist Trophy  on September 5, 1959, the 24th running of the event sponsored by English newspaper, News of the World, and the fifth and final round of the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. In winning the race, Aston Martin emerged from a 3-way contest with Ferrari and Porsche as the 1959 World Champions. It was one of the greatest triumphs for the marque and David Brown.
David Cutting (with pencil in mouth), had just been appointed by David Brown (behind model) to the role of chief designer in Aston Martin's Special Projects Office and he was given a clean sheet to design the DBR1, the company's first true racing car.
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David Cutting (with pencil in mouth), had just been appointed by David Brown (behind model) to the role of chief designer in Aston Martin's Special Projects Office and he was given a clean sheet to design the DBR1, the company's first true racing car.
The DBR1 exactly as it was when it finished second in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. The DBR1s finished first and second a lap apart, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin considering the Ferraris did not complete 300 laps.
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The DBR1 exactly as it was when it finished second in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. The DBR1s finished first and second a lap apart, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin considering the Ferraris did not complete 300 laps.
The Aston Martin DB4 GT was a lighter, higher-performance version of the DB4. It was introduced in September 1959, and timed at 152 mph (245 km/h) by Autosport in December 1961. The aluminium body was thinner, the wheelbase was shorter, and the range-topping 3750 cc engine produced 302 hp.  From the feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.
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The Aston Martin DB4 GT was a lighter, higher-performance version of the DB4. It was introduced in September 1959, and timed at 152 mph (245 km/h) by Autosport in December 1961. The aluminium body was thinner, the wheelbase was shorter, and the range-topping 3750 cc engine produced 302 hp.  From the feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.
The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1960, being a lightened 314 hp (234 kW) DB4 GT with Zagato styling. It was timed at 153.5 mph (247 km/h). The 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato pictured above was sold by RM-Sothebys for $14.3 million in December, 2015 and was the most expensive British car ever sold at auction at that time. From the feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.
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The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1960, being a lightened 314 hp (234 kW) DB4 GT with Zagato styling. It was timed at 153.5 mph (247 km/h). The 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato pictured above was sold by RM-Sothebys for $14.3 million in December, 2015 and was the most expensive British car ever sold at auction at that time. From the feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.
Possibly the most famous automobile in the world during the 1960s when Ian Fleming’s books became box office hits. At very least, there would not have been an auto enthusiast on Planet Earth who wasn't aware of the weaponised DB5 presented by gadgetmeister Q to James Bond (Sean Connery). The car had  .30 calibre Browning machine guns behind the front indicators, retractable tyre slashers, a retractable rear bullet proof screen, a radio telephone concealed in the door, a radar scanner with a tracking screen in the cockpit, a passenger ejector seat, an oil slick and smoke screen generator and revolving number plates. The hero car from the movie, fitted with all these features, sold for $4.6 million in 2005.
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Possibly the most famous automobile in the world during the 1960s when Ian Fleming’s books became box office hits. At very least, there would not have been an auto enthusiast on Planet Earth who wasn't aware of the weaponised DB5 presented by gadgetmeister Q to James Bond (Sean Connery). The car had  .30 calibre Browning machine guns behind the front indicators, retractable tyre slashers, a retractable rear bullet proof screen, a radio telephone concealed in the door, a radar scanner with a tracking screen in the cockpit, a passenger ejector seat, an oil slick and smoke screen generator and revolving number plates. The hero car from the movie, fitted with all these features, sold for $4.6 million in 2005.
 in a stroke of promotional genius, the Aston Martin DB5 was chosen as James Bond's car for the movie Goldfinger and became one of the first movie "hero cars." The dream car of a generation was James Bond's gadget-festooned Aston Martin when Goldfinger was released in September, 1963 ... then again in Thunderball (1965).
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 in a stroke of promotional genius, the Aston Martin DB5 was chosen as James Bond's car for the movie Goldfinger and became one of the first movie "hero cars." The dream car of a generation was James Bond's gadget-festooned Aston Martin when Goldfinger was released in September, 1963 ... then again in Thunderball (1965).

The RM Sotheby's press release calls it "the most important Aston Martin ever produced." Only five were made, and between them they won the 24 Hour of Le Mans and the World Sportscar Championship in 1959. The Aston Martin DBR1 is headed for auction at Monterey next month and expectations are of a sale price in excess of $20 million.

The DBR1 also won the 1000 km Nürburgring race in 1957, 1958 and 1959, forever validating it had found the ideal balance of performance and handling to conquer endurance racing on the most demanding track in the world. This car won the third of those victories and helped dethrone Ferrari for the world title in 1959.

In just a handful of years, Aston Martin's star rose dramatically, and it all started with the Aston Martin DBR1. This car is DBR1, chassis 1.

Caroll Shelby, Sterling Moss, David Brown and Roy Salvadori gather on the podium after the 1959 R.A.C. Tourist Trophy  on September 5, 1959, the 24th running of the event sponsored by English newspaper, News of the World, and the fifth and final round of the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. In winning the race, Aston Martin emerged from a 3-way contest with Ferrari and Porsche as the 1959 World Champions. It was one of the greatest triumphs for the marque and David Brown.
Caroll Shelby, Sterling Moss, David Brown and Roy Salvadori gather on the podium after the 1959 R.A.C. Tourist Trophy  on September 5, 1959, the 24th running of the event sponsored by English newspaper, News of the World, and the fifth and final round of the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. In winning the race, Aston Martin emerged from a 3-way contest with Ferrari and Porsche as the 1959 World Champions. It was one of the greatest triumphs for the marque and David Brown.

Sir David Brown would these days be described as a serial entrepreneur. The story of his success is spectacular and Aston Martin is just one of many of his business triumphs across many industries and decades. Brown had already demonstrated his magic touch many times prior to WW2 as he turned his grandfather's machine tool business into an industrial giant, and pioneered new techniques and technologies.

Inside a decade, Brown demonstrated his powers by taking his new found marque to global first-tier recognition. Upon purchasing Aston Martin in 1947, he set set lofty goals for the company, one of which was winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A win in the world's most famous race guaranteed a marque's performance credentials and nothing less would do.

Aston Martin finished 7th in its first attempt at Le Mans under DB proprietorship in 1949, 5th & 6th in 1950, 3rd, 5th & 7th in 1951 and 7th in 1952. The DB cars were in the hunt, but were underpowered by comparison to the lead cars of other sports car manufacturers – the invention of the radar gun in 1953 offered some insight into just how great was the speed differential.

DBR1/1 during the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans race with Roy Salvadori at the wheel
DBR1/1 during the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans race with Roy Salvadori at the wheel

Topping out at just 212.2 km/h (132 mph) on the Hunaudières Straight at Le Mans that year, the DB3S Aston Martin was well down on speed compared to any of the other cars: Cunningham C-5R(249.1 km/h); Alfa Romeo 6C (245.9 km/h); Jaguar C-Type (244.6 km/h); Ferrari 340 MM (242.1 km/h) and Talbot Lago T26S (239.1 km/h).

Clearly the Aston Martins had the roadholding, braking and reliability to make up some of that deficit, and outpace most rivals over the distance, but they seemingly didn't have the grunt to win. Even then, the DB3S nearly got the job done in both 1955 and 1956 when it placed second at Le Mans in both years. But no cigar!

David Cutting (with pencil in mouth), had just been appointed by David Brown (behind model) to the role of chief designer in Aston Martin's Special Projects Office and he was given a clean sheet to design the DBR1, the company's first true racing car.
David Cutting (with pencil in mouth), had just been appointed by David Brown (behind model) to the role of chief designer in Aston Martin's Special Projects Office and he was given a clean sheet to design the DBR1, the company's first true racing car.

Aston Martin's race cars prior to the DBR1 had been developed from road models but when regulations were broadened for Le Mans in 1956, allowing pure race cars, the DBR1 was conceived. David Cutting (above with pencil in mouth), had just been appointed by Brown (left behind model) to the role of chief designer in Aston Martin's Special Projects Office and he was given a clean sheet to design the DBR1, the company's first true racing car.

Our detailed view of the 100 most expensive cars of all time offers some interesting perspective on the possibilities. One of the DBR1's contemporaries, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, held the outright auction record just a few years ago, and sports cars from the same 1950s sportscar racing arena populate the $15 million plus ranks with examples including the Ferrari 335S Spider, Ferrari 290 MM, Ferrari 375-Plus, Jaguar D-Type and slightly later, the Ferrari 250 GTO. The first DBR1 should push into that territory.
Our detailed view of the 100 most expensive cars of all time offers some interesting perspective on the possibilities. One of the DBR1's contemporaries, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, held the outright auction record just a few years ago, and sports cars from the same 1950s sportscar racing arena populate the $15 million plus ranks with examples including the Ferrari 335S Spider, Ferrari 290 MM, Ferrari 375-Plus, Jaguar D-Type and slightly later, the Ferrari 250 GTO. The first DBR1 should push into that territory.

This is the first DBR1, the embodiment of Cutting's design, and the car which will sell at RM-Sotheby's Monterey auction on August 19 during the Monterey Car Week leading up to the world-renowned Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

The lightweight spaceframe chassis construction of the DBR1 saw it weigh in at 1,765 lb (801 kg).
The lightweight spaceframe chassis construction of the DBR1 saw it weigh in at 1,765 lb (801 kg).

The lightweight spaceframe chassis construction enabled the DBR1 to weigh in at 1,765 lb (801 kg), the same weight as its period rival the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.

The DBR1 exactly as it was when it finished second in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. The DBR1s finished first and second a lap apart, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin considering the Ferraris did not complete 300 laps.
The DBR1 exactly as it was when it finished second in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. The DBR1s finished first and second a lap apart, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin considering the Ferraris did not complete 300 laps.

The spaceframe chassis enabled 80 kg to be trimmed from the weight of the road-based Aston Martin DB3S racers, but most importantly, it offered a much stronger chassis with greater rigidity.

The initial DBR1 engine was a 2.5 litre six, but the ideal balance was found when a 250 hp revision of the DB3S three litre six was fitted for the 1957 season. The victories began to happen from that point and the pinnacle was the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans where the DBR1 finished first and second, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin 
The initial DBR1 engine was a 2.5 litre six, but the ideal balance was found when a 250 hp revision of the DB3S three litre six was fitted for the 1957 season. The victories began to happen from that point and the pinnacle was the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans where the DBR1 finished first and second, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern - a massive margin 

The initial DBR1 engine was a 2.5 liter six, but the ideal balance was found when a 250 hp revision of the DB3S three liter six was fitted for the 1957 season. The victories began to happen from that point and the pinnacle was the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans where the DBR1 finished first and second, with a string of Ferrari 250 GTs some 25 laps astern. Ferrari's stranglehold on the World Sportscar Championship had only been broken once before since the inception of the series (by the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR) so the win for Aston Martin was a key moment in racing history.

Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby await a pit stop during the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race
Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby await a pit stop during the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race

David Brown's magic was by then paying dividends across the company and while the DBR1 was beating Ferrari's Testa Rossa and Porsche's 718 RSK on the racetrack, Aston Martin's DB (David Brown) lineage produced the fastest road car in the world three times in a row in the form of the 1958 DB4, 1959 DB4 GT and 1960 DB4 GT Zagato.

The 1958 Aston Martin DB4 was timed at 141 mph (227 km/h), becoming the world's fastest production road car. The following year the 1959 DB4 GT was timed at 152 mph (245 km/h), taking the world mantle once more and then, the 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was timed at 153.5 mph (247 km/h). From our feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.
The 1958 Aston Martin DB4 was timed at 141 mph (227 km/h), becoming the world's fastest production road car. The following year the 1959 DB4 GT was timed at 152 mph (245 km/h), taking the world mantle once more and then, the 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was timed at 153.5 mph (247 km/h). From our feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.

The Aston Martin DB4 (above next to chart) was produced from 1958 until 1963, with its 3670 cc DOHC six cylinder engine producing 240 hp and propelling it to a top speed, as tested by Autocar magazine in 1961, of 141 mph (227 km/h).

The Aston Martin DB4 GT was a lighter, higher-performance version of the DB4. It was introduced in September 1959, and timed at 152 mph (245 km/h) by Autosport in December 1961. The aluminium body was thinner, the wheelbase was shorter, and the range-topping 3750 cc engine produced 302 hp.  From the feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.
The Aston Martin DB4 GT was a lighter, higher-performance version of the DB4. It was introduced in September 1959, and timed at 152 mph (245 km/h) by Autosport in December 1961. The aluminium body was thinner, the wheelbase was shorter, and the range-topping 3750 cc engine produced 302 hp.  From the feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.

The DB4 GT (above) was a lighter, higher-performance version of the DB4 introduced in September 1959, and timed at 152 mph (245 km/h) by Autosport in December 1961. The aluminum body was thinner, the wheelbase was shorter, and the range-topping 3750 cc engine produced 302 hp.

The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1960, being a lightened 314 hp (234 kW) DB4 GT with Zagato styling. It was timed at 153.5 mph (247 km/h). The 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato pictured above was sold by RM-Sothebys for $14.3 million in December, 2015 and was the most expensive British car ever sold at auction at that time. From the feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.
The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1960, being a lightened 314 hp (234 kW) DB4 GT with Zagato styling. It was timed at 153.5 mph (247 km/h). The 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato pictured above was sold by RM-Sothebys for $14.3 million in December, 2015 and was the most expensive British car ever sold at auction at that time. From the feature article, the fastest roadcars in history.

The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato (above) was introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1960, being a lightened 314 hp (234 kW) DB4 GT with Zagato styling. It was timed at 153.5 mph (247 km/h). For more see our feature article on the fastest roadcars in history.

 in a stroke of promotional genius, the Aston Martin DB5 was chosen as James Bond's car for the movie Goldfinger and became one of the first movie "hero cars." The dream car of a generation was James Bond's gadget-festooned Aston Martin when Goldfinger was released in September, 1963 ... then again in Thunderball (1965).
 in a stroke of promotional genius, the Aston Martin DB5 was chosen as James Bond's car for the movie Goldfinger and became one of the first movie "hero cars." The dream car of a generation was James Bond's gadget-festooned Aston Martin when Goldfinger was released in September, 1963 ... then again in Thunderball (1965).

Just to cap off a few dream years of achievement, in a stroke of promotional genius, the Aston Martin DB5 was chosen as James Bond's car for the movie Goldfinger and became one of the first movie "hero cars." The dream car of a generation was James Bond's gadget-festooned Aston Martin when Goldfinger was released in September 1963 ... then again in Thunderball (1965).

Possibly the most famous automobile in the world during the 1960s when Ian Fleming’s books became box office hits. At very least, there would not have been an auto enthusiast on Planet Earth who wasn't aware of the weaponised DB5 presented by gadgetmeister Q to James Bond (Sean Connery). The car had  .30 calibre Browning machine guns behind the front indicators, retractable tyre slashers, a retractable rear bullet proof screen, a radio telephone concealed in the door, a radar scanner with a tracking screen in the cockpit, a passenger ejector seat, an oil slick and smoke screen generator and revolving number plates. The hero car from the movie, fitted with all these features, sold for $4.6 million in 2005.
Possibly the most famous automobile in the world during the 1960s when Ian Fleming’s books became box office hits. At very least, there would not have been an auto enthusiast on Planet Earth who wasn't aware of the weaponised DB5 presented by gadgetmeister Q to James Bond (Sean Connery). The car had  .30 calibre Browning machine guns behind the front indicators, retractable tyre slashers, a retractable rear bullet proof screen, a radio telephone concealed in the door, a radar scanner with a tracking screen in the cockpit, a passenger ejector seat, an oil slick and smoke screen generator and revolving number plates. The hero car from the movie, fitted with all these features, sold for $4.6 million in 2005.

We've written about this car many times in the last 15 years, and it is a perennial favorite with readers. It was the best known automobile of the era when Ian Fleming's James Bond books became box office hits during the 1960s.

The weaponized Aston Martin DB5 presented by gadgetmeister Q to James Bond (Sean Connery) had .30 calibre Browning machine guns behind the front indicators, retractable tire slashers, a retractable rear bullet proof screen, a radio telephone concealed in the door, a radar scanner with a tracking screen in the cockpit, a passenger ejector seat, an oil slick and smoke screen generator and revolving number plates. The hero car from the movie, fitted with all these features, sold for $4.6 million in 2005.

The Aston Martin DBR1 was the stand-out sportscar in the world in 1959, winning the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 1000 km Nürburgring race and the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. This car was the first one built.
The Aston Martin DBR1 was the stand-out sportscar in the world in 1959, winning the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 1000 km Nürburgring race and the 1959 World Sportscar Championship. This car was the first one built.

What's it worth?

The glory years of Aston Martin coincided with David Brown and as that success was precipitated by the DBR1, so RM-Sotheby's claim of this being the most significant Aston Martin ever made rings true.

That claim will be thoroughly tested during the 2017 Monterey Car Week festival on August 18-19, 2017 when the car goes to auction. It stands to reason that the most significant car would attract the most money at auction, but it's complicated, and provenance is the key. Most of the DBR1s race wins, including the 1959 Le Mans race were achieved by DBR1/2, which reportedly sold for £20 million ($32,298,000) through Talacrest in 2012.

We don't count private sales because they can't be verified, but only 37 cars have ever sold at auction for more than US$10 million, seven of those for more than $20 million, and three of those for more than $30 million ... and an identical car to this has already sold for more than $30 million outside the auction system.

A sale price "in excess of $20 million" is being quoted for DBR1/1 but the upper limit might be well above that. So if it sells above $20 million, it will become one of eight to sell above that amount ... a top 10 of all time car.

The auction record for any Aston Martin ($14.3 million for a DB4 GT Zagato) will fall if this car sells, and the record for any British car ($21.78 million for a Le-Mans-winning Jaguar D-Type) will probably be broken too, at least judging from the Talacrest sale of the DBR1/2 sister car. So although DBR1/1 and DBR1/2 are identical other than the stamp (below), will DBR1/1 sell for $10 million less than the sister car? Maybe not ... 2012 is a long time ago in auction years. The market might be soft, but cars such as this don't come along very often.

There's only one first one.
There's only one first one.

This particular car did not win Le Mans. It is however, the initial hand-crafted manifestation of Ted Cutting's design and David Brown's dream, and if someone values that provenance enough, it might break all the records.

Our detailed view of the 100 most expensive cars of all time offers some interesting perspective on the possibilities. One of the DBR1's contemporaries, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, held the outright auction record just a few years ago, and sports cars from the same 1950s sportscar racing arena populate the $15 million plus ranks with examples including the Ferrari 335S Spider, Ferrari 290 MM, Ferrari 375-Plus, Jaguar D-Type and slightly later, the Ferrari 250 GTO. The first DBR1 should push into that territory.

Monterey Car Week is not far away – stay tuned for more auction previews.

Auction link: RM Sotheby's

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