Aston Martin DB4 GT DP215 Competition

Car producer : 

Aston Martin


DB4 GT DP215 Competition





The first Design Project, DP212, was conceived and executed in five months and was nearly all DB4GT in regard to its chassis and mechanics. The wheelbase was extended by an inch, and instead of the standard platform, replaced by box-frame sections. Truly different was the body shape – very sleek and seemingly aerodynamic, comprised of very lightweight magnesium/aluminum alloy. With an increased engine capacity and triple Weber carburetors, DP212 had a top speed of 175 mph. Driven by Richie Ginther and Graham Hill at Le Mans in 1962, the car placed 5th on the grid.

It became clear, however, that DP212 suffered from rear-end lift at high speed. Both Ginther and Hill complained of it at Le Mans and following tests at MIRA, Aston Martin engineers would find that nearly a quarter of the weight was lost! Subsequently, a rear spoiler was added along with an extended and lower nose; this would help engineers plan for the following Project Cars.

For the 1963 season, two additional Project cars (dubbed DP214) were created to rival Ferrari’s entries. Built for the GT class, each DP214 was required to have a DB4GT chassis number to conform to regulations. In reality, however, the chassis was entirely different from standard. To lighten the vehicles even more, the box-section chassis was drilled, and the frame had aluminum floorpans attached. Bending the rules even further, the engineers moved the engine back by eight inches, ensuring less rear-end lift. The engine capacity was increased yet again, and both cars were fitted with a David Brown S432 four-speed gearbox. The body was also designed with DP212 MIRA tests in mind: both DP214s were fitted with a low nose cone ending in a smaller radiator intake, and a sizable Kamm tail, giving the bodies a truly magnificent aspect. All in all, DP214s were a full 13 kg lighter than DP212, and nearly 200 lighter than a DB4GT. Both DP214s would go on to compete in the 1963 and 1964 race season, winning both the Coppa Inter-Europa and the Coupes de Paris, while also scoring other podium finishes. Notably, at Monza, the DP214 driven by Roy Salvadori defeated the Works 250 GTO driven by Mike Parkes in the three-hour race supporting the Italian GP.

It was the Works entry for the 1963 Le Mans Prototype Class that truly set the bar for what the Aston Martin engineers could do. A wholly unique competition car, the Aston Martin Design Project known as DP215 was to become the last racing car built by the factory, and the ultimate evolution of the Aston Martin GT racers. It was ordered by John Wyer, designed by Ted Cutting, had an engine from Tadek Marek, and was driven by Phil Hill – the great names associated with DP215.

Though very similar in looks to the two prior DP214s, DP215 is a very different car under the skin. Originally created as a vehicle for Tadek Marek’s yet-to-be developed V8, for the 1963 season, DP215 was equipped with a four-liter version of the DP212 six-cylinder twin plug engine – although 400/215/1 was fitted with a dry sump oil system. Modifications to the steel box-frame chassis included allowing for the engine to be fitted a full 10 inches further back than in DP212, as well as independent rear suspension. Ted Cutting was focused on improving balance and aerodynamics – the culmination of years of wind-tunnel testing at MIRA in response to driver complaints of rear lift at high speed.

After shutting down its racing department, Aston Martin sold the team cars but kept DP215 for development in the hopes of an eventual return to racing in 1965. These hopes were shattered, however, when DP215 was in an accident during night testing on the M1 motorway.

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