At RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale on August 18th a 1956 DBR1, the first of five DBR1s and sister car to the 1959 Le Mans winner, was sold for US$22.5 million, including the premium. That makes it, in US dollar terms, the most expensive British car ever sold at auction. At current exchange rates it’s about £17.4m worth.
Quite some car then. We know DBR1 chassis number one from seeing it at the Motor Circuit – it raced here both in period and latterly, at the Revival – and from an exceptional provenance which to RM Sotheby’s makes it “arguably the most important Aston Martin ever built.”
Here’s our 15-para whirlwind tour to the life and times of the twenty-two million-dollar Aston Martin:
1. The car is the first of five DBR1s made by David Brown to achieve his dream of winning Le Mans, which Aston Martin did with DBR number two in 1959.
2. DBR1/1 was raced by Roy Salvadori, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Carroll Shelby, Jim Clark and Bruce McLaren, among others.
3. Its first attempt at Le Mans was in 2.5-litre form in 1956. It ran well for 20 hours until running its bearings.
4. The car’s first Goodwood appearance was in 1957 when Roy Salvadori brought it home second at the BARC Easter Meeting. Driving with Jack Brabham a year later, the car was second in the 1958 RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood.
5. Stirling Moss was over a minute faster in the DBR1 over a lap of the 1958 Targa Florio than he had been in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR three years earlier. How the car would have fared in the Mille Miglia is a source of much speculation.