The DB4 model, produced from 1958 until 1963, was the car that put Aston Martin firmly in the sports coupe segment and started the iconic look that would define the brand throughout the next decades. If you look closely, styling cues from this car can still be found in modern Aston Martin models.
Aston made the DB4 to last, the combo chassis/body is undeniably overbuilt, heavy and strong. No doubt the car has all the good qualities to be a reliable, and elegant coupe for the streets but on the other hand, it was too heavy for the race track.
The Brits knocked at the right door asking for help: Carrozzeria Touring of Milan transformed the heavy DB4 into a race track beast, applying its Superleggera bodywork, with a series of interconnected steel tubes supporting lightweight sheet metal made of aluminum and magnesium alloy.
The wheelbase was also reduced in comparison to the street version which resulted in many cars not being fitted with rear seats.
The engine was also a masterpiece: the in-line 6 cylinder was available in two slightly different sizes, 3.7 L (3670 cc/223 in³) and 3.8 L (3750 cc/228 in³), both equipped with two sparkplugs per cylinder and two distributors, modifications to the aluminum cylinder head brought compression to 9.0:1. No high-performance in-line 6 is complete without a trio of side-draft Weber carbs and the DB4 was no exception.
Power output was 302 hp. Maximum speed for the GT was 151 mph (243 km/h) with a 6.1-second from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h). It was the fastest road-legal production car at the time.
The Zagato DB4
Carrozeria Touring built only 75 GT, making the car extremely sought by collectors. At the same time, other Italian coach builders also wanted a slice of the DB4; nineteen more were modified by the Zagato works in Italy. The unmistakable Zagato’s design can be seen all over it, always leaning towards a more aerodynamic concept.
The Bertone DB4.
Among all the Italian coach builders that reworked the DB4, it was Bertone who created the most daring design of them all. They basically built a totally new body for the car, leaving very little (if any) trace of the original design. The result is a stunning coupe, perhaps the best exemple of what a partnership between the Brits and the Italians can accomplish.
Doesn’t matter which one you like better, those machines are timeless classics from an amazing era, masterpieces of engineering and design.
Cars will never be built with such passion ever again.