The first of Aston Martin’s GT prototypes, Project 212, has been entered in the pre-’63 GT race at the 2009 Silverstone Classic.
This is the first appearance at the Silverstone Classic of Project 212 which is, according to James Knight, International Head of the Bonhams Motoring Department, “one of the most iconic of all Aston Martins in the company’s illustrious history, a multi-million pound motor car and perhaps the pinnacle of Aston Martin Prototype GT racing.”
Project 212 has been consistently maintained for racing and is the most actively campaigned of the surviving Project cars. Its presence in the Silverstone Classic’s pre-’63 GT race is typical of the grid spirit, which only includes original cars reflecting the specifications of their period.
This unique Aston Martin DP 212 will be campaigned ‘in anger’ at the Silverstone Classic on July 26 by its arch-enthusiast owner Wolfgang Friedrichs and his regular co-driver David Clark.
Aston Martin built Project 212 in 1962 in utmost secrecy and haste at the Middlesex-based Aston Racing department, in response to its French dealer’s concerns about a drop in sales and suggestion that a suitable car should be built to race at Le Mans to boost Aston’s image.
Based on a modified DB4 GT platform and powered by a 4-litre version of the original 3.7 engine, it was driven by Graham Hill and Richie Ginther, making the fastest opening lap but then succumbing to engine problems.
Aerodynamic issues highlighted at Le Mans were dealt with on the car’s return to the UK, when designer Ted Cutting took it to MIRA’s wind tunnel in Nuneaton in the dead of night because the tunnel’s drain on electricity would otherwise have plunged the town into darkness. With a temporary rear spoiler fitted, lift was dramatically reduced and top speed increased to 187mph.
Ken Prichard Jones, Director of Racing at Silverstone Limited says: “The Silverstone Classic’s aim of bringing together original race cars, observing period homologation rules, is wonderfully showcased by the Project 212’s presence. As a front runner in the pre-’63 GT grid, it will be racing against no less than five SWB Ferraris and another famous Aston Martin, the lightweight ex-Equipe Endeavour DB4 GT.”