Revealed! Most valuable British car ever to come to auction in Europe

The famous Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato 2 VEV, raced by Jim Clark, is to be offered for sale at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale – but how much is it worth?

Revealed! Most valuable British car ever to come to auction in Europe

'In 34 years in this business I've handled around 35,000 cars for sale,' says James Knight, group motoring chairman, of Bonhams, as he prepares to unveil what is undoubtedly the most valuable British car ever to come to auction in Europe. 'But every now again you get to handle something very special. And sometimes it's something very very special.'

With that the covers are pulled away to reveal the famous 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato ‘2 VEV’. It's estimated to be worth £10 million, and will be offered for sale at Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed sale on 13 July.

This Essex Racing Stable team car has been in the same family ownership for 47 years. It's said to be the most important DB4GT Zagato in history for several reasons:

  • It is one of only two of the legendary ‘VEV’ quasi-works cars
  • One of only three configured in the ultra-light DP209 specification
  • It was driven five times in period by Jim Clark
  • It comes from long-term, single-family ownership of nearly 50 years

These are attributes that none of the other 18 DB4GT Zagatos can boast.

‘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 finished 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, Clark spun at Madgwick Corner in the path of the Ferrari 250 GTO race leader John Surtees. 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 at Spa-Francorchamps earlier in 1962, while driven by Belgian Lucien Bianchi.

It had also competed in the 1961 Le Mans 24-Hour race and the Paris 1000 Kilometres in which it finished sixth, 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 and Sir John Whitmore.

2 VEV later achieved tremendous success in historic racing throughout the 1980s and '90s campaigned by Roger St John Hart and then, for the family, by prominent Aston Martin Owners’ Club personality Nick Cussons. Its racing career has been less intensive since a full restoration at the Aston Martin factory in the mid-1990s, but it remains ready to race.

James Knight concluded: ‘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.’

For more information on the sale, visit the Bonhams website.

See more on the racing history of '2 VEV' with our gallery of archive images.

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