Back in the 1960s, Aston Martin developed a streamlined prototype racecar, built on the chassis of a DB4 GT, designed to handle the high speeds of Le Mans. Named the Project 212, it was powered by 4.0-litre straight-six, which was also based on the DB4 GT's 3.7-litre Tadek Marek unit.
Video: Ultra‑rare Aston Martin Project 214 slides around Goodwood
It showed great promise at its inaugural Le Mans, however engine and high-speed stability issues ultimately ruled it out of contention. Back to the drawing board. Several wind tunnel tests later, the Project 212 now featured a Kamm Tail design. However, by this point, it was already outdated, and despite being used in practice for the 1963 event, it was replaced by the newer DP214 and DP215 for the race itself.
Two DP214s were built and contested in 1963, with Bill Kimberley and Jo Schlesser in chassis 0194 and Bruce McLaren and Innes Ireland in 0195. During practice, Ireland recorded 186.4mph down the Mulsanne Straight, setting an unofficial time of 3 minutes 58.7 seconds and an official time of 4 minutes dead.
Despite the DP214 having the potential to succeed at Le Mans, both running within the top six after many hours of racing, they eventually succumbed to similar engine issues to the 212, with their cast pistons cracking.
Of the two DP214s, only 0194 remains today, after 0195 was destroyed in an accident at the Nürburgring 1,000km in 1964 that killed its driver Brian Hetreed. It’s the one surviving car, chassis 0194, that we see in this video before us, during practice for the Graham Hill Trophy at last year’s 77th Members’ Meeting.
Watch as drivers Friechrichs and Hadfield weave around rivals, reliving the 1963 RAC TT at Goodwood, during which scrutineering forced Innes Ireland and Bruce McLaren to downsize their 6.5-inch rims to a 5.5-inches, thus ruining their otherwise highly probable chances of a win.
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