Featured in this classified ad from the April 1971 issue of Road & Track is an example of one of the great GT cars of the day: The Aston Martin DB4.
The DB4 made its big debut at the 1958 London Motor Show, and the beautiful new car on the Aston Martin stand represented an important step for the company during the celebrated David Brown era. John Wyer, chassis designer Harold Beach, and engine man Tadek Marek devised an entirely new car for Aston Martin, not just an updated version of the DB Mark III that it replaced. The 3.7 liter engine by Marek had first been used in the DBR2 racing car, but the inline-six was made to fit into the DB4 and tuned to give 240 horsepower. That power propelled the DB4, covered by the slippery four-seater Superleggera body from Carrozzeria Touring to almost 140 miles per hour. Chassis design was new for Aston, and was a pressed steel platform frame, and suspension was double wishbone at the front with a live rear axle at the back. Brakes for the 3,000 pound GT car were discs all around. Early cars had Dunlops, but these were later replaced by Girlings. Price new for the proud new Aston came in at around £4,000. This was certainly expensive, and quicker cars could certainly be had for cheaper, but this is never what Aston Martin was about. The basic shape of the DB4 along with the Marek-designed inline-six would be defining features of Aston Martins for years to come. Meanwhile racing versions of the DB4, the DB4 GT and the DB4 GT Zagato, mixed it up on the world stage with Ferraris and Jaguars, and looked great doing it. In some ways, the DB4 was the last iconic GT car of the 1950s and the first iconic GT car of the 1960s.
This DB4, with an asking price of $3,495, would have been far from the cream of the crop in 1971. By that time, the well-heeled motorist had all sorts of options in the GT world (Ferrari GTBs and Daytonas, Jaguar E-Types, and Aston Martin’s own newer cars). This car wasn’t even equipped with the more desirable features of a DB4. Not a Vantage or a DB4 GT, it appears to be essentially a base DB4, and the mention in the ad of so much recent mechanical work would imply that the car has more than just a few miles on it. The owner in the ad is presumably aviation author Stephan Wilkinson, but the ultimate fate of the car seems to be a mystery. Today, of course, even a driver-quality DB4 is a prize, and a nice car can fetch well in excess of $300,000 at auction these days. In 2012 dollars, Mr. Wilkinson was asking roughly $20,000 for this thoroughbred, Superleggera-bodied classic. How amazing the changes to the classic car world have been.