Known to fans the world over as 2VEV, the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato is likely to become the most expensive British car ever sold at auction, beating even Aston Martin DBR1 chassis number one which sold in 2017 for £16.9m.
Any DB4 GT Zagato – and there were just 19 built in period – is acclaimed not just for its raw charisma but an illustrious competition record, both in period and, despite the model’s sheer value, in historic racing. But 2VEV is the most special and prominent of them all, a veteran of Le Mans, Nurburgring and, most of all, Goodwood.
Photographs of the car racing in period, when it was driven by drivers including Jim Clark, are among the most iconic motorsport images, with many of them showing the car drifting inch-perfect through Goodwood’s fast sweepers.
In 1961 and ’62, 2VEV took on the cream of the GT World Championship crop, battling against Ferrari’s 250 GTO in all the great races of the time. Along with its sister car 1VEV, 2VEV was run in period by the Aston-backed Essex Racing Stable. Being a quasi-works team, 2VEV was configured in ultra-light DP209 specification – one of only three DB4GT Zs to be configured thus.
In 1961 and ’62, 2VEV took on the cream of the GT World Championship crop, battling against Ferrari’s 250 GTO in all the great races of the time. Along with its sister car 1VEV, 2VEV was run in period by the Aston-backed Essex Racing Stable. Being a quasi-works team, 2VEV was configured in ultra-light DP209 specification, one of only three DB4GT Zs to be configured thus.
Over time the car had its share of mishaps, including a crash at Spa-Francorchamps early in 1962. 2VEV was repaired but only weeks later was to be involved in the incident for which it is most well known: with Jim Clark behind the wheel in the RAC Tourist Trophy race at Goodwood.
Just after re-joining the race following a pit stop, the future World Champion spun at Madgwick Corner in the path of race leader John Surtees’s Ferrari 250 GTO. The two cars collided and crashed into the safety bank, only to be joined a few laps later by Robin Benson’s Ferrari 250 GT SWB which careered into both of them. The scene, involving three of the most valuable 1960s motor cars in today’s market, has become one of the most celebrated crashes in motor sport.
So it is appropriate that the car is being sold at Goodwood, where, since the Italian-designed British-engineered supermodel first made its debut with Sir Stirling Moss in ’61, it has enthralled so many. As well as racing at the Motor Circuit 2VEV is no stranger to the Festival of Speed Hillclimb. Since getting damaged in a road accident in 1993 and its subsequent rebuild, the car has had a more low-profile life.
2VEV is being offered for sale for the first time in 47 years during which it has been in single family ownership. The car was bought by the late Roger St John Hart in 1971 – for £3600.
Bonhams’ James Knight told GRR at the announcement of the sale in Paris today (8 February): “2VEV is, by some distance, the most valuable British motor car ever to be offered at a European auction. It’s a landmark sale.”
Photography courtesy of Bonhams, The GP Library and LAT Images