1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT Prototype (DP199)

Why It’s Amazing: In the 1950s, the legendary John Wyer, whose name became synonymous with Gulf-liveried cars after a string of Le Mans victories with Ford GT40s and Porsche 917s, was also the team manager for Aston Martin’s racing program for a time. Long before the first DB4 reached customers, Wyer and his team grabbed an early prototype and set to work building a race-ready yet road-legal version. The car they built would eventually become the DB4GT.

They chopped five inches out of the chassis, taken from right behind the front seats. The skin was formed with lighter-gauge aluminum to aid in keeping the mass down. What was left of the rear seating area became a luggage rack. It’s a good thing, too, because to make the car suitable for endurance racing, almost the entirety of the trunk was filled by a full-size spare and a 30 gallon fuel tank.

Even though it was a prototype with no siblings yet in existence, it raced at Silverstone, with Moss behind the wheel. He qualified on pole. Then, he not only won, but set a new lap record in the process. “All the road-going Astons seemed muscular and strong,” he said, “but the DB4GT was also quite well balanced. It had bags of power and when I drove it against Jaguar saloons, it was no contest.”

The car survived its brief racing career, which included an abbreviated run at Le Mans, and went on a photo op tour at various car shows. Eventually, Aston Martin sold the prototype to the Queen’s cousin. Since then, it’s had a handful of notable owners, including Rowan Atkinson.

View the Aston Martin Motorsport collection on RM Sotheby’s.

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