Aston Martin DB4 V SS Saloon Touring Superleggera

Car producer : 

Aston Martin


DB4 V SS Saloon Touring Superleggera





The lightweight superleggera (tube-frame) body was designed by Carrozzeria Touring in Milan, and its Continental looks caused a sensation on its unveiling at the 1958 London Motor Show. Although the design and construction techniques were Italian, the DB4 was the first Aston to be built at the company's Newport Pagnell works in Buckinghamshire, England.

The 3.7 L (3670 cc/223 in³) engine, designed by Tadek Marek, was a double overhead cam straight-6, with cylinder head and block of cast R.R.50 aluminium alloy, a further development of the earlier engine. The engine was prone to overheating initially, but the 240 hp (179 kW) produced by the twin-SU carburettor version made buyers forgive this unfortunate trait. Servo assisted Disc brakes were fitted all around, with early 11.5 in (292 mm) Dunlops being replaced by Girlings. The independent front suspension used ball-jointed wishbones and coil springs and the live rear axle also using coils springs with location by a Watt's linkage. Rack and pinion steering was used. There was a choice of final drive ratios, the normal one for British and European use was 3.54:1, the United States usually got a 3.77:1 and a 3.31:1 was also available for customers wanting a car with an especially high top speed.

There were five "series" of DB4s. The first cars had already undergone a number of improvements, including the fitting of heavy-duty bumpers after the first 50 had been made, before the 2nd series arrived in January 1960. A front-hinged bonnet, bigger brake callipers and an enlarged sump were the major changes made on the Series II with the most visible changes being the addition of window frames. The second series cars, of which 351 were produced, are well regarded for combining modifications to solve certain problems with early production, and they also represent the last series with the attractive one-piece “cathedral” tail lamps, the signature tall bonnet scoop, and the original grille design. While the 3rd series featured separate rear lights, two bonnet stays and a host of improvements to the interior fittings and the adoption of a barred (rather than eggcrate) grille in Series IV. The Series III cars differed from the earlier ones in having taillights consisting of three small lamps mounted on a chrome backing plate. The 4th series was readily distinguishable by its new grille, with seven vertical bars, shallower bonnet intake and recessed rear lights. This series of DB4s was also the first to offer an overdrive transmission option, making it much more comfortable to drive on the highway for long periods of time and helping to make the car a wonderful grand tourer. Earlier cars have single-piece units and the last Series V cars of September 1962 have similar taillights but recessed. The Series V manufactured between September 1962 and June 1963 was built on a 3½" longer wheelbase (allowing for increased leg room and a larger boot) and gained 15" wheels, though the diameter of the wheels was reduced to keep the overall height the same, an electric radiator fan and the DB4GT-type instrument panel. The front of the Series V usually was of the more aerodynamic style as already used on the Vantage and GT models, a style that was later carried over to the DB5 cars.

A convertible was introduced in 1962. It featured in-house styling similar to the Touring saloon, and an extremely rare factory hardtop was also available. In total, 70 DB4 convertibles were made from a total DB4 production run of 1,110 cars. 30 of these were Series IV, with the remaining 40 belonging to the Series V. 32 of the total convertibles built (11 and 21 of the different series respectively) were equipped with the more powerful Vantage engine. Top speed for the regular version is about 136 mph.

In the case of DB4s, there was no Vantage option until the so-called fourth series cars. These are outwardly identifiable by the slotted grille in combination with the better integrated, flatter bonnet scoop and the recessed triple stacked taillights, all features which carried over to the DB5. With the Series IV cars came the introduction of the 'Special Series' engine, which added a third SU HD8 carburetor, a higher compression ratio (9:1) and larger valves, which boosted horsepower by over 10 percent to a quoted 266 bhp, a useful increase. Most – but not all – 'SS'-engine equipped DB4s were also enhanced with the attractive 'faired in' headlamp nose popularized by the iconic DB4GT and also carried over to the DB5. It is these covered headlamp versions of the Series IV cars, 45 in all, which were referred to as Vantage models by the factory. The DB4 Vantage models also featured the DB4GT dashboard instruments, identifiable by their separate dials for each function, and the addition of an oil temperature indicator, as the SS engine and indeed most DB4s by then were equipped with oil coolers. By the time the next and final series of DB4s was introduced, the body had grown longer and taller and was fitted with smaller, wider 15-inch wheels, presaging the dimensions of the forthcoming DB5. Therefore, the Series IV Vantage models are the only production DB4s to combine the original DB4 proportions with the attractive covered headlamp nose, along with the high performance motor. To many aficionados, this rare model has become the connoisseur's choice.

A tiny number of non-GT DB4s used the GT's more-powerful engine. This combination is often called a Vantage GT, though not all included the Vantage package and none was technically a GT. Three Series III, five Series IV, and six Series V cars have this unusual combination of body and engine for a total of 14. 

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