Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato lives again

Work has started on a run of 19 brand-new examples of the new Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, possibly the most beautiful Aston ever made and a car intended to smash the Ferrari 250GT SWB.

19 of the original DB4 GT Zagato were built between 1960 and 1963 as a lightened, more aerodynamic version of the DB4 GT, itself a shorter, lighter version of the DB4 coupe.

This was time when high-end GT cars could be driven on the road during the week and raced at the weekend. The Zagato was certainly a better road car than the aforementioned Ferrari 250GT SWB. But in a straight fight on track, the Ferrari usually came out on top.

But let’s not sell the Zagato short. It was, by any measure, an awesome piece of kit. Power came a 3.7-litre, all-aluminium, twin sparkplug straight-six, engine producing a claimed 314bhp. That was enough to propel the 1,200kg missile from 0-60mph in around six seconds and on to a top speed on the far side of 150mph. Which was rocketship pace in the early Sixties.

And the Zagato was, of course, clothed in that stunning body. Styled by Zagato’s resident genius Ercole Spada, the body was formed from ultra-light, thin-gauge aluminium draped over a tubular framework. The new DB4 GT Zagato Continuation cars are being built in exactly the same way. The craftsmen at Aston Martin Works, housed in the old Aston factory in Newport Pagnell, are using the same techniques as their predecessors, hand-forming sheets of aluminium the old fashioned way, with hammers and English wheels. The more complex panels probably take hundreds of hours of work.

That’s not to say modern technology is being completely ignored. A digital body buck is being used to assess each body panel to a level detail that simply wasn’t possible nearly 60 years ago. Indeed, the Continuation cars will be built to much higher standards of quality than the originals.

The powertrain of the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation has been upgraded over the original as well. It is still a 3.7-litre, all-aluminium, twin sparkplug straight-six, but freshly built using modern techniques to liberate around 380bhp. That power goes to the rear wheels via a period-correct four-speed gearbox and a limited slip differential.

Like the previous DB4 GT Continuation and upcoming DB5 Goldfinger Edition, the DB4 GT Zagato isn’t actually road legal. But historic racing operators who allow continuation cars will likely be very happy to have some on the grid.

The price for all this? £6 million. Which is a lot, but then you also get another car thrown in with the deal, the as-yet-unseen, DBS Superleggera-based DBS GT Zagato. Aston is calling the pair the DBZ Century Collection. And consider this – the last original DB4 GT Zagato to come up for auction sold for just over £10 million. The Continuation car is starting to look like a bit of a bargain.

By Graham King

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