DB4 GT was a cut-and-shut version of the Aston Martin DB4, a homologation special, launched, along with the DB4, in 1959 the year Aston Martin won the World Sports Car Championship with the DBR1. In essence it was a DB4 two-door coupé, with five inches out of its wheelbase and its Superleggera Touring of Milan aluminium coachwork wrapped over the remodelled fine-tube frame. Tadek Marek's 3.7-litre, straight-six-cylinder, twin-cam engine design was uprated with three twin-choke Weber carburettors, wilder cam timing, a 9:1 compression ratio and twin-plug ignition. Aston optimistically claimed 302bhp at 6,000rpm. The gearbox was an all-synchro, close-ratio four-speed David Brown unit, the solid rear axle had a Powr-lok limited slip differential and there were all-round Girling disc brakes. Headlamps had Perspex covers and most cars had a 30-gallon fuel tank with twin fillers, with some clad in 18-gauge magnesium aluminium coachwork.
Aston's competition manager, John Wyer wanted a car that was "a little closer to the edge" and so it was, with the short-wheelbase and 190lbs out of the kerb weight making an all-round sharper car. Out of the box it was good for 153mph, with 0-60mph in just over six seconds and 0-100mph in 14 seconds. A standard DB4 cost £4,000, and a DB4 GT cost £4,500 with those lovely Borrani wheels an optional extra. In total 75 were built, plus 19 Zagato derivatives, one Bertone-bodied car and several Project endurance-racing cars. Paul Spires, commercial director of Aston Martin Works at Newport Pagnell says he reckons exactly 100 of these closely related specials were built.
While the originals were great looking, they struggled against rivals such as Ferrari's 250SWB and Jaguar's E-Type. The DB4 GT prototype, DP199/1 made its racing debut at the International Trophy meeting at Silverstone on the 9th of May, 1959. Stirling Moss drove it and wasn't impressed.
“It was a bit of truck,” he said. “Might be worth a lot of money now, but I’d take the short wheelbase [Ferrari], which is what it raced against, that was such a lovely car, light, powerful, it made the Aston’s lack of breeding stand out.”
After that inauspicious start, the same car was fitted with a three-litre engine from a DBR3/1 and run at Le Mans that June, with Swiss drivers, Hubert Patthey and Renaud Calderari, where it lasted just 21 laps, though Aston has painted Swiss colours on this Continuation model to commemorate the occasion. The following year Aston Martin factory built five lightweight DB4 GTs, with one going to Tommy Sopwith’s Équipe Endeavour and two going to John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable. Stirling Moss drove the Sopwith car to victory at the Goodwood Easter Monday meeting and Jack Sears drove that car winning at Aintree, then Oulton Park, Snetterton, and Brands Hatch against fairly soft opposition. Ogier’s cars faced a tougher test at the Goodwood Tourist Trophy in August, in the form of six Ferrari 250GTs including Rob Walker’s example with Moss at the wheel who finished first a lap ahead of anything else. It was the same story for the rest of the year, the Stentorian and beautiful DB4 GT proved too heavy, not fast enough and very heavy on tyres.