A rare 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato ‘2 VEV’ is the lead car for the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018 sale. It is expected to be the most-expensive British car ever sold in Britain.
Bonhams announced at its Paris Rétromobile auction that a rare 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato will be its lead car for the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed classic car auction in mid-July 2018. This Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, famous by its registration number 2 VEV, was raced in period by John Ogier’s Essex Racing Team and driven by amongst others Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell (Le Mans 1961), Jim Clark, who crashed it into John Surtees’ Ferrari 250 GTO at Goodwood, and Lucien Bianchi, who basically totaled the Zagato at Spa. No estimate has been released yet other than the claim that it is the most valuable British-made car ever offered for sale at an auction in Europe.
Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale 2018
The annual Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale is held on 13 July 2018 during arguably the most important motoring event in Britain. It takes place at Goodwood near Chichester in the south of England.
The Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale is usually the most important of the three Goodwood auctions Bonhams holds most years. The Goodwood Members sale is in mid-March while the Goodwood Revival sale in September is usually a great occasion for historic cars.
The Goodwood auction record, also the British auction record, was set in 2013 when $29,650,000 (£19.6 million) was paid for a 1954 Mercedes Benz W196R Formula 1 single-seater racing car. At the time, it doubled the highest price paid for a car at auction and it is currently still the third most-expensive car ever sold at public auction.
1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato ‘2 VEV’
The 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, chassis 0183/R, registration number 2 VEV, is one of only 19 cars produced and one of only four built to lightweight specification for racing purposes.
John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable raced two DB4GT Zagatos that became known by their registration plate numbers 1 VEV and 2 VEV. Both cars participated in, and retired from, the 1961 Le Mans 24 Hours race.
In July 1961, 2 VEV won a support race at the British Grand Prix at Aintree as the first (and only in-period) overall victory for an Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato. In this race, the Zagato driven by Lex Davison famously took the lead on the final lap from Jack Sears’ Jaguar E-Type.
Following a crash at Spa in 1962, 2 VEV was rebuilt in lightweight DP209 specification with amongst others a lower roofline, a reshaped tail and longer front end. However, it was returned to the original DP207 version following a road accident in the 1990s.
Jim Clark in ‘2 VEV’
A truly great car is judged by the company it keeps, and ‘2 VEV’ raced internationally throughout 1961-62 against rival Ferrari 250 GT SWB and Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinettas, vehicles which now count amongst the most valuable cars in the world. ‘2 VEV’ was campaigned by owner John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable team as a quasi- works Aston Martin entry against some of the most notable grids ever assembled in GT World Championship history. Driven by the revered Jim Clark, two-time Formula 1 World Champion Driver and winner of the world’s richest single race – the American Indianapolis 500-Miles – this is a ‘DP209’ lightweight version of the already rare Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato model – of which only 19 were made.
Jim Clark most notably drove ‘2 VEV’ for John Ogier and Aston Martin to confront the Ferraris in the RAC Tourist Trophy race at Goodwood in both 1961 and 1962. He brought the car home fourth behind contemporary team leader Roy Salvadori’s sister car ‘1 VEV’ in the 1961 race, but in 1962 he became involved in a multi-car accident. 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 and extraordinary images.
By that time, the DB4GT Zagato had already been reconfigured by Aston Martin into the factory’s latest ‘DP209’ ultimate-lightweight specification following a crash while being driven by Belgian Lucien Bianchi at Spa-Francorchamps earlier in 1962. In 1961, it had competed in the Le Mans 24-Hour race and the Paris 1,000 Kilometres in which it finished 6th, driven by Jim Clark/Innes Ireland. In 1962, the car was repaired after the TT incident to reappear at Montlhéry, this time co-driven by Jim Clark (yet again) and Sir John Whitmore.
‘2 VEV’ in Recent Years
The car later achieved tremendous success in historic racing throughout the 1980s-90s campaigned by Roger St John Hart and then, for the family, by prominent Aston Martin Owners’ Club personality Nick Cussons. It has now been in one caring stewardship for nearly 50 years. Its racing career has taken a gentler pace since a full Aston Martin factory restoration in the mid- 90s, but it remains ready for track action.
James Knight, Group Motoring Chairman, commented: ‘Bonhams is absolutely delighted to be bringing this landmark vehicle to auction, which continues our history of offering the world’s most important and celebrated sports and collectors’ motor cars to market. It is, by some distance, the most valuable British motor car ever to be offered at a European auction, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for this historically significant vehicle.’
Prices of Top Aston Martin Cars at Auction
Only two Aston Martin cars have ever sold for over $10 million at public auction. The marque record, and highest price ever paid for a British-made car is $22,500,000 paid for the 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2017 sale.
Previously the Aston Martin marque record was $14,300,000 paid for a 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato at the RM Sotheby’s New York 2015 sale. The result nearly tripled the Aston Martin marque record. This Zagato, chassis DB4GT/0186/R was the 14th car produced. It was only briefly raced in Australia and thus preserved in a very original condition.
It was believed to have been only the first time in nearly a decade that a DB4GT Zagato changed hands. Standard DB4GTs are more common with results at recent auctions ranging from around $1.6 to $3 million while the 1959 Aston Martin DB4GT Prototype achieved $6,765,000 at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2017 sale.