Aston Martin DB4, DB4 GT & DB4 Vantage Buying Guide
With drop-dead styling and strong performance, the DB4 is now among the most prized of all grand tourers. Buy carefully, though…
How much to pay
• Project £200,000-300,000 • Good £300,000-600,000 • Concours £600,000-3,000,000 •
• Most expensive at auction: £9.45 million (DB4 GT Zagato)
Running costs ★★
DIY Friendly ★★★
When David Brown decided to replace the ageing DB2/4 line, it marked the beginning of a succession of models that would come to define most people’s idea of a classic Aston Martin. Tadek Marek designed a new twin-cam six-cylinder engine, while Touring provided its patented Superleggera construction method, as well as the new car’s sleek lines.
It was a landmark cocktail at a time when Aston’s sporting profile was reaching its height – in 1959, the team won both Le Mans and the World Sportscar Championship with its immortal DBR1. The DB4 went racing, too, courtesy of the GT, which was campaigned by the likes of Stirling Moss and Jim Clark.
On-track or off, the DB4 remains one of the great grand tourers. It was tweaked more or less continuously through its life, with the Vantage gaining triple SU carburettors, bigger valves and an increased compression ratio. There was the option of coupé or drophead bodywork, too.
Whatever your preference, there are many key points to consider if you’re not to be caught out in a very expensive way.
Your AutoClassic Aston Martin DB4 inspection checklist
Tadek Marek’s 3670cc straight-six is a fabulous engine and durable if properly looked after, but there were early lubrication troubles due to the difference in tolerances between hot and cold. The increase in sump capacity and addition of an oil cooler were attempts to combat that.
Like so much to do with a DB4, engine work can be eye-wateringly expensive if required. Basic servicing needs to be rigorously adhered to. Check that there aren’t any fluid leaks – especially from the weep holes down the right-hand side of the block – and ensure that antifreeze levels are adequate, something that’s vital on an all-alloy engine. There should also be no signs of oil and water mixing.
During the test drive, you don’t want to see blue exhaust smoke under acceleration, and oil pressure should be 80psi at tickover when warm. Check the paperwork for evidence of the last timing-chain replacement. If it fails, you’ll be left with bent valves and a huge bill.
Ford Model A Phaeton 1929
Spectacular body-off-frame restored condition Desirable 4-door Ford Model A Phaeton Formally part of the Arnold E. Petsche collection (founder & former chairman of aerospace company A.E. Petsche Co.) Gorgeous color combination Incredibly well furnished and optioned with: Dual side mount spares with covers Dual cowl lights Dual wind wings Motometer hood ornament Luggage rack withFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | St. Louis, MO, USA$ 29,900
Jaguar E-Type Series II 1969
Stunning restoration Displaying only 56,634 miles! Rare & desirable Series II Fixed Head Coupe One of only 3,785 built Numbers matching 4.2 Litre engine Meticulously maintained Gorgeous factory correct color combination Options include: Chrome wire wheels Whitewall tires Moto-lita wood rimmed steering wheel AM/FM stereo with 8-track cassette 4-wheel disc brakes DFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | St. Louis, MO, USA$ 99,000
MG MGB 1980
Spectacular Original Condition Displaying 27,481 actual miles! Only one owner from new Rare & Desirable MG MGB Limited Edition One of only 6,668 built Matching numbers engine Final Production Year MGB Incredible documentation includes original window sticker, original dealer registration permit, original owner’s manual, service invoices, service manuals and more! OptionFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | St. Louis, MO, USA$ 21,900
Aston Martin DB4 Convertible 1963
The Aston Martin DB4 Convertible From the moment of its introduction in 1958, the classical proportions of the Touring-style Aston Martin DB4 made it instantly recognizable and, with it, an iconic look was introduced — one that would survive with only minor revision until 1970. Along with being the first production car capable of 0–100–0 mph in less than 30 seconds, the DB4 had discFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | London, UK£ POA
Dodge Dart GT 1968
1968 Dodge Dart GT condition: good cylinders: 6 cylinders drive: rwd fuel: gas paint color: yellow title status: clean transmission: automatic 1968 Dodge Dart GT with the factory 225 inline slant 6 and 904 automatic transmission. The car DOES lot run and drive. It will need the harmonic balancer/ pulley changed and the carb rebuilt to be rode worthy. We have another balancer to gFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | New Castle, Indiana, USA$ 5,500
Ford Galaxie 500 XL 1963
1963 Ford Galaxie 500 XL condition: good cylinders: 8 cylinders drive: rwd fuel: gas paint color: white size: full-size title status: clean transmission: automatic type: convertible This 1963 Ford Galaxie 500XL Convertible is a pleasure to drive and quite dependable. Not a show car but a real head turner. Only familiar with past five years but no reason to believe that this cFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | Indianapolis, IN, USA$ 17,500
Chevrolet Coupe 1948
1948 Chevy coupe cylinders: 6 cylinders fuel: gas odometer: 62000 title status: clean transmission: manual Very nice and solid car. Has the original 216 inline six cylinder and three on tree manual transmission. Very fun and clean. I will consider a trade or trades and will trade up and give cash or trade down and receive cash. If interested contact us ASAPFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | Danville, Illinois, USA$ 9,500
Chevrolet BelAir 1953
1953 Chevy cylinders: 6 cylinders drive: rwd fuel: gas odometer: 49750 paint color: green title status: clean transmission: automatic type: other Runs and drives has split header for Saul exhaust and disk brakes on the front chrome on front was done a couple of years ago aluminum wheels If interested contact us ASAPFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | Indianapolis, IN, USA$ 16,000
Ford Coupe 1940
1940 Ford Coupe condition: excellent cylinders: 8 cylinders drive: rwd fuel: gas paint color: blue size: full-size title status: clean I LIVE BY FLINT, MICHIGAN... If this ad is still up, it's still for sale. Listing for a friend. NO TRADES, NO TRADES!!! MOVING SOUTH... CASH ONLY!!! 1940 Ford Coupe was built by a GM Executive and just finished in 2016. It is a VeryFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | Gaines, Michigan, USA$ 35,000
Chevrolet Impala 1962
1962 Chevrolet Impala cylinders: 8 cylinders fuel: gas title status: clean transmission: automatic type: coupe For sale or trade - 1962 Chevrolet Impala 2-door hardtop. Runs, drives and stops but not highway ready. Has a mid 1980s 350 engine. Mostly original except for seats and motor. Still using factory gas tank. Needs restoration but very solid with minimal rust (see pictures). FlFor Sale | 18 Jun 2018 | Williamsburg, KY, USA$ 6,500
As you’d expect from a company that specialised in gears, the David Brown four-speed unit is pretty robust. Difficulties selecting gears once everything’s warmed up could point towards synchromesh cones, while worn layshaft bearings will reveal themselves via a chattering noise while the car is in neutral and idling.
Check which differential ratio is fitted to the car you’re inspecting. Various options were used by the factory, and higher ones are better suited to cruising and modern motoring.
Overdrive was an option from the Series II onwards, with a Borg-Warner auto being introduced for the Series V – but very rarely specified.
Suspension and brakes
The DB4 uses independent front suspension via wishbones, coil springs and telescopic dampers. At the rear, there’s a live axle, coils, lever-arm dampers, trailing arms and a Watt linkage.
Make sure that the bushes and gaiters aren’t worn or perished – while you’re down there, look for rust or poor repairs around the mountings – and that there’s firm rebound in the dampers.
It’s vital that the recommended lubrication interval of 2500 miles is adhered to, otherwise wear can be rapid. The original crossplies are likely to have been replaced by radials, but wider rubber can make the steering even heavier at low speeds.
The DB4’s Superleggera construction comprises a main ‘tub’ of pressed and welded steel panels, topped by a frame of steel tubes. It’s a complicated but stiff structure, with aluminium panels being used to clothe the exterior. Restoring it is an extremely costly business, so you’ll need to check everywhere for corrosion. Even the aluminium panels will often need replacing if they’ve become brittle.
Inspect the sills, notably around the jacking points, then move on to the area around the rear trailing-arm mounts. The doors feature aluminium skins over a steel frame and can rot along their bottom edge.
Check the boot floor and, on soft-tops, look for cracks between the fuel filler and the bootlid. Electrolytic corrosion can occur where the bumper tubes pass through the body, so look at both the front and rear valances. Poor sealing in the front wheelarches, meanwhile, can cause the steel side members to rot.
If a car’s been fully restored by a respected specialist, then modern techniques – such as powder-coating the entire sub-structure – should help to protect the end result. Poorly restored cars, on the other hand, might not show themselves until it’s too late, so have a trusted expert inspect it before you buy – however pristine it looks on the surface.
The advantage of the DB4’s interior is that a specialist shouldn’t have any problem reupholstering the leather seats. The disadvantage is that, as you’d expect, it will be expensive.
Instrumentation is comprehensive, with a wonderfully charismatic dashboard layout, but make sure that it all works. An improved heater was fitted from 1961 onwards.
Although parts supply is generally good, some interior components are getting harder to find. These include quarterlight catches, heater control levers and seat runners.
The last-of-the-line Series V was lengthened by 3.5in to give more rear room, while the short-wheelbase GT is at the opposite end of the spectrum and is a strict two-seater.
- 1958: DB4 introduced in October.
- 1959: DB4 GT – 74 built, plus 19 Zagato-bodied cars and one by Bertone.
- 1960: Series II introduced with front-hinged bonnet and larger-capacity sump.
- 1961: Series III gains triple tail lights, then Series IV arrives with smaller bonnet air intake, twin-plate clutch and oil cooler. Vantage and Drophead variants added.
- 1962: Series V is lengthened by 3.5in and uses 15in wheels instead of 16s.
- 1963: Production ends after 1040 have been built.
Values of Aston’s DB models have gone through the roof in the past decade or more. Even project cars are commanding serious money.
But even with prices being what they are, anything you save by buying a project will be quickly cancelled out once the enormous cost of a proper rebuild is factored in. After all, these are complex, hand-built cars.
The Vantage models are more desirable than the standard cars, with dropheads being more valuable than the coupes. The lighter, race-bred GT is now comfortably into seven figures, with the Zagato-bodied cars being the domain of only the wealthiest collectors. After a period in which upgrades such as power steering and a bigger engine were relatively common, originality now seems to be back in vogue.
Seek out the help of a marque specialist before you take the plunge. Their inspection will be the best money you spend. Buy wisely and a DB4 of any type will reward you like few others.
Aston Martin cars for sale here.
Classic Cars for Sale
Spectacular body-off-frame restored condition Desirable 4-door Ford Model A Phaeton Formally part of the Arnold E. Petsche collection (founder & former chairman of aerospace company A.E. Petsche Co.) Gorgeous color combination Incredibly well furnished and optioned with: Dual side mount spares with covers Dual cowl lights Dual wind wings Motometer hood ornament Luggage rack with
Stunning restoration Displaying only 56,634 miles! Rare & desirable Series II Fixed Head Coupe One of only 3,785 built Numbers matching 4.2 Litre engine Meticulously maintained Gorgeous factory correct color combination Options include: Chrome wire wheels Whitewall tires Moto-lita wood rimmed steering wheel AM/FM stereo with 8-track cassette 4-wheel disc brakes D
Spectacular Original Condition Displaying 27,481 actual miles! Only one owner from new Rare & Desirable MG MGB Limited Edition One of only 6,668 built Matching numbers engine Final Production Year MGB Incredible documentation includes original window sticker, original dealer registration permit, original owner’s manual, service invoices, service manuals and more! Option
The Aston Martin DB4 Convertible From the moment of its introduction in 1958, the classical proportions of the Touring-style Aston Martin DB4 made it instantly recognizable and, with it, an iconic look was introduced — one that would survive with only minor revision until 1970. Along with being the first production car capable of 0–100–0 mph in less than 30 seconds, the DB4 had disc