1960 Aston Martin DB4GT Lightweight
Year of manufacture1960
- One of just 75 Touring-bodied DB4 GTs constructed, and one of only six RHD “Lightweight” cars
- Delivered new to Tommy Sopwith’s illustrious Equipe Endeavour concern in April 1960
- Driven to victory by Stirling Moss on its debut at Goodwood on Easter Monday, April 1960
- Victorious on four further occasions with Jack Sears later that same year
- Subsequent owned by noted enthusiasts Ron Fry, Ted Jones, David Ham and Steve O’Rourke
- Fastidiously maintained during the present ownership by marque specialists Aston Engineering
- Eligible for numerous Historic events including the Goodwood Revival, Le Mans Classic and Monterey Historics
From a sporting - if not necessarily a commercial - perspective, 1959 proved to be the most important year in Aston Martin’s history. At their twentieth attempt, they finally won the coveted Le Mans 24 Hours race; a result which proved instrumental in securing the World Championship for Sports Cars later that year. However, just one month previously, Stirling Moss had driven a striking new prototype GT - internally designated as DP199/1, but publicly identified as a DB4 GT - to victory on its race debut at Silverstone; a result which would also have similarly far-reaching implications for the company.
Suitably refined, the definitive “Production” specification DB4 GT was publicly unveiled at the London Motor Show in September 1959. In effect a shorter-wheelbase and significantly lightened version of the company’s incumbent DB4 model, it was powered by a 3.7-litre, twin-plug ignition straight-six engine similar to that previously used in the magnificently brutal DBR2. Crucially, the car would be available in either roadgoing or racing specification, and in either left- or right-hand drive.
A mere 75 Touring- and 19 Zagato-bodied DB4GTs were constructed, of which this example was numerically the 24th. Originally ordered through Aston Martin Agents Brooklands of Bond Street by Tommy Sopwith for his racing team, Equipe Endeavour, it would be just the third DB4GT destined for competition. As the only son of the legendary industrialist, aviator and yachtsman Sir Thomas Sopwith - who had come tantalisingly close to winning the America’s Cup in 1934 with his magnificent J-class yacht Endeavour - the younger Sopwith named his team in his father’s honour; its cars always immaculately presented in Sir Thomas’ distinguished yacht racing colours of Navy Blue and White.
Chassis number DB4GT/0124/R was officially delivered on 16 April 1960, appropriately finished in Sopwith’s preferred hue of Jaguar Indigo Blue and, significantly, constructed around a Lightweight race-specification chassis - one of just six cars so equipped. According to contemporary Aston Martin factory records, the car was registered LGL 400 - thereby continuing the Endeavour tradition of “400” licence plate designations - although curiously the car did not display any such reference until later on in its career.
On Easter Monday 1960, 0124/R made its competitive debut in the Fordwater Trophy at Goodwood; Sopwith’s choice of Stirling Moss as driver a signal of the team’s intent. Having formed a vital part of Aston Martin’s 1959 World Sportscar Championship-winning squad, Moss retained strong links with the Feltham factory; a beneficial arrangement further reinforced by Aston Martin Team Manager Reg Parnell delivering 0124/R to Goodwood in person. Still sporting its standard-fitment bumpers, and yet to be adorned by the famous Endeavour white noseband, Moss dominated proceedings, finishing well clear of Roy Salvadori’s John Coombs-entered Jaguar MkII, with Jack Sears’ similar Endeavour-entered MkII in third.
After Goodwood, Sopwith entered the car for the GT race at the Aintree 200 meeting just two weeks later. As would be the case for the remainder of 0124/R’s time with Endeavour, Jack Sears was the driver on this occasion; the popular Norfolk farmer winning the 10-lap race at a canter from Dick Protheroe’s venerable Jaguar XK120 and the Lotus Elites of John Wagstaff and Chris Summers. Just a week later, Sears maintained the car’s unbeaten run at Oulton Park; another comfortable win ensuing in the 10 lap GT race at the Lancashire & Cheshire Car Club meeting, this time ahead of Tommy Dickson’s Lotus Elite and Peter Bolton’s AC Ace.
The DB4 GT’s next outing was at the Daily Express Trophy Meeting at Silverstone, in mid-May. Entered somewhat incongruously in the 25 Lap Unlimited Sportscar race - alongside the likes of Roy Salvadori’s Cooper Monaco, Ron Flockhart’s Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-type and Jim Clark’s Aston Martin DBR1 - an outright victory was unrealistic. Nevertheless, both Sears and the car acquitted themselves admirably, finishing tenth overall behind George Pitt’s Cooper Monaco and ahead of Peter Sargent’s Jaguar D-type.
After another commanding win in the combined GT/Touring Car race at Snetterton in late May - local hero Sears finishing ahead of the Elites of Summers and Dickson once again - both car and driver took a well-earned break; the pair’s early season having encompassed five races in six weekends. They duly reconvened at Brands Hatch on 1 August for the 10 Lap GT race supporting the headline Silver City Trophy race; the first event to be run on the newly extended 2.65-mile version of the Kent track. With Graham Whitehead’s new Ferrari 250GT SWB failing to arrive, Sears once again dominated proceedings in 0124/R, finishing more than 20 seconds clear of the second-placed Elite of emerging talent - and future Scuderia Ferrari driver - Michael Parkes.
Later that same month, Equipe Endeavour returned to Brands Hatch for what would be 0124/R’s final race with the team. For once, it appeared they had met their match in the 10 Lap Redex Trophy, for Stirling Moss was entered in the Rob Walker-owned Ferrari 250 GT SWB with which he had won the Goodwood TT just a week previously. So it proved in the race, with Moss taking victory by some 18 seconds ahead of Sears, with Parkes’ Elite a further half minute in arrears at the flag. Remarkably, this marked the conclusion of 0124/R’s front line career; Sopwith ironically purchasing the Walker 250GT at the end of the season for Sears to drive - alongside Graham Hill in the Equipe’s new Jaguar E-type - in 1961.
Subsequently purchased from Equipe Endeavour by Hillclimb and Club Racing specialist - and later Ferrari 250 SWB, 250 GTO, 250 LM and Ford GT40 exponent - Ron Fry, 0124/R’s competition career resumed in 1961 with its entry into several Speed events close to Fry’s West Country home. The car’s first recorded event in its new ownership was at the Dryham Park hillclimb, in Wiltshire, which yielded a third in class, whilst other notable results that year included a class win in the Castle Combe Sprint in August, fastest time of the day at the same venue a month later and first place at Long Marston Speed Trials.
The arrival of Fry’s 250GT SWB in November 1961 heralded the departure of 0124/R; the car subsequently passing through the hands of Michael Haynes, M. Wade, R.F. Carlisle and C.R.N. Carvalho, of which - in all cases - regrettably very little is known. However, in 1969 it was acquired Ted Jones, who promptly re-registered the car ELJ 5 and campaigned it occasionally in AMOC events.
Jones’ first outing in 0124/R appears to have been at the Club’s Wiscombe Park Hillclimb in April 1969. Modest third and second in class positions ensued at Wiscombe in 1971 and 1973 respectively, whilst a seventh place in the Handicap race at the AMOC’s 1969 St. John Horsfall race meeting represented the car’s only known race result during Jones’ stewardship.
In 1973 Jones sold the car to fellow AMOC luminary David Ham, who had previously raced a DB3S and, fittingly, the 1959 Le Mans-winning DBR1/2 to considerable effect in Unlimited Sportscar and Formula Libre events a decade or so earlier. In his ownership - and by now bearing the registration 587 GJB which it retains to this day - the car was raced in a variety of Club events; its most notable result a fourth place at the Eight Clubs meeting at Silverstone in May 1974.
In 1977, Ham sold the car, via old racing adversary John Harper, to long-time Pink Floyd Manager and multiple Le Mans competitor Steve O’Rourke; the latter, appropriately, already the owner of the ex-Endeavour/Graham Hill E-type ECD 400. In O’Rourke’s custody the car was used in selected historic events, including the 1998 and 1999 Goodwood Revival, although his frequent touring and business commitments - specifically as Executive Producer for the band’s ground-breaking 1982 film “The Wall” - precluded more widespread competitive participation.
Shortly before his untimely death in 2003, O’Rourke elected to sell the car; the vendor subsequently acquiring it in 2005. During his ownership it has been a regular competitor at events such as the Goodwood Revival and Silverstone Classic; its roster of esteemed drivers including Richard Attwood, Stuart Graham and Nick Faure. Although a veteran of four further appearances at the Goodwood Revival, it is arguably its outright victory in the RAC Tourist Trophy at the Silverstone Classic in 2011 which ranks as its finest historic racing success. Indeed, not only did Attwood and Graham defeat no less than five Ferrari SWBs in the process, but their victory ensured that Stuart became the only man to ever win contemporary Tourist Trophies on two and four wheels, as well as the latter’s historic counterpart.
Fastidiously maintained throughout th