The most significant one-off Works Aston Martin, developed to compete at Le Mans, will join a star studded line-up in the forthcoming RM Sotheby’s Monterey Sale 24 – 25 August 2018.
Piloted by Lucien Bianchi and Phil Hill at Le Mans in 1963, the amazing Aston was clocked at 198.6 mph on the Mulsanne Straight.
Carefully restored and working in synergy with Ted Cutting, the original designer, the glorious Grand Touring machine still retains its original engine and correct-type five-speed gearbox.
A Works entry for the 1963 Le Mans Prototype Class, Aston Martin engineers were then given precedence as to how high the competition bar should be. Completely unique and known as ‘DP215’, it was to become the final racing car built by the iconic factory.
Ordered by John Wyer and designed by Ted Cutting, it also had an engine from Tadek Marek, and was even driven by Phil Hill – the great names associated with DP215.
Speaking RM Sotheby’s, former world champion and triple Le Mans winner Phil Hill said:
“I was astounded by the six-cylinder engine’s torque, particularly at Tertre Rouge corner, the last one before the Mulsanne Straight. Le Mans cars have such high gears for the straight and often feel dead leaving that right-hander. Not the Aston, which felt quite meaty out of Tertre Rouge and away. And flat out it needed only the lightest steering pressure.
“The lines of the car are absolute perfection. You can see where its outstanding maximum speed came from. From a driving point of view, the acceleration in second and third gears always caused the hairs on the back of my hand to stand up. The previous engine fitted to the car was giving 372 bhp on the dyno, which gives some indication as to what extent the original engine, now fitted to the car, could be developed. The steering is delightfully light (unlike other Aston Martin GT cars of the period), the brakes are outstanding for the era, and the car feels like a thoroughbred to drive. Close examination will show that the build quality is superior to virtually any other competition car of the period.
“My outstanding memory of the car is when I was following the DP215, driven by Paul Vestey, in Paul’s GTO – we were driving on some magnificent roads down to Taranto in Italy, passing and repassing each other at speeds in excess of 130 mph. The sound of the two old warriors was unforgettable. The Aston’s six-cylinder bark perfectly complimenting the Ferrari’s V-12 howl.
“It must be said that despite the car’s extraordinary performance, it is easy to drive at slow speeds and in modern traffic conditions. I once drove it through the Paris rush hour traffic on a Dunhill Rally to the Ritz Hotel in the center of Paris. The clutch is light and the new synchro, in-line, five-speed gearbox is a joy. The torque of the engine enables the car to be comfortably driven at 2000 rpm in fifth gear. It pulls cleanly from there all the way to 6,200 rpm if needed.
“I will always remember that when I asked Ted Cutting what his proudest achievement was during his magnificent career with Aston Martin, he replied that winning the World Sports Car Championship in 1959 with the DBR1s came a very close 2nd to the recorded speed at Le Mans of DP215. This was the fastest speed ever recorded by a front engine car on the old course at Le Mans. He was talking as a designer, of course. I hope that whoever is fortunate enough to become DP215’s next custodian drives and enjoys the car as much as I have done over the years.”
Images courtesy RM Sotheby’s