Arguably the best example of its type in the world, 0181 is one of just 19 Aston Martin DB4 GT cars that is clothed in the infamous Zagato coachwork. Furthermore, of those 19, only seven were left-hand drive examples, of which this is one. One of the most intensely admired cars ever, The DB4GT Zagato was not an instant hit. It was slow burner of car, the importance of which has grown and grown. Only with hindsight has the DB4 GT become revered as Zagato’s finest post-war product and possibly the most beautiful Aston Martin of all time.
Described in a contemporary Autosport article as looking ‘fierce beyond belief’, The DB4 GT Zagato was not designed as an out and out racing car, but rather as a car which could be genuinely competitive on the track. The Autocar road test in April, 1962 summed it up nicely by stating, ‘In sheer performance there are not more than half-dozen road cars in the world which can match the agility of this special-bodied Aston Martin. Obviously its market is limited by its high price. For those to whom this is no barrier, but who are prepared to pay for an uncommon, well-engineered vehicle which has the ability to perform creditably on a race track and behave with decorum on the public roads with equal facility, it has few rivals.’
0181, being special for both its body type and left-hand drive configuration is rendered even more special by the fact that it was made for and purchased by Dr Elio Zagato, son of the Zagato company’s founder. Elio specified a number of unique features for 0181, including tubular bumpers, a bonnet with an air scoop rather than the usual triple humps, side indicator repeater lights, special chrome script fitted to the dashboard in place of a glovebox, Carello headlights and an ashtray. Elio was a successful road-racing driver in the 1950s and 0181 was used for a variety of Italian road and track events. In late 1961 he had telescopic shock absorbers fitted to the rear suspension to improve road-holding. He eventually sold 0181 to a new Italian owner during the mid-1960s and it was repainted in a darker shade of metallic green.
Renowned Aston Martin expert, Richard Williams, appreciating the beauty and scarcity of the Zagato-bodied examples, spent a lot of time during the early 1970s trying to track an example down for his own collection. 0181 was at this time viewed as a ‘missing’ car in Aston Martin circles but William’s huge network in Europe led him to an Italian dealer who had found 0181. It took over nine months of negotiation for Williams to purchase the Aston and it arrived in the UK in original but non-usable condition. A full RS Williams painstaking restoration was completed by 1980 along with new paintwork. Williams sold the Aston to previous Aston Martin marque shareholder, Peter Livanos, but 0181 remained with RS Williams for safekeeping and maintenance as it continued to do when Tony Buckingham became its next owner.
Over ten years ago, 0181 passed to its current owner, who has enjoyed the Aston as part of his collection, which is one of the greatest European private collections in existence today. 0181 has taken part in a number of Tour Autos, the Colorado Grand and the London Lisbon and is collectively admired and acknowledged as the finest example of its type. This is an amazing opportunity to acquire the Zagato family’s own DB4 GT Zagato, that has been restored and looked after by the world’s preeminent Aston Martin restorer and then by one of Europe’s greatest collectors. It would be a beautiful addition to any collection and the most elegant companion at the world’s finest historic motoring events.