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Aston Martin DB4: Buying guide and review (1958-1963)

Aston Martin DB4: Buying guide and review (1958-1963) Classic and Performance Car
Aston Martin DB4 Aston Martin DB4 Aston Martin DB4 Aston Martin DB4 Aston Martin DB4
Beautiful, superb to drive and genuinely usable grand tourers in the classic mould, it’s easy to see why the Aston Martin DB4 is so highly revered. Featuring an elegant Touring-designed coupé bodyshell, Superleggera construction and an all-alloy 3.7-litre twin-cam straight-six, the DB4 arrived in 1958, dragging Aston Martin into the modern age at the same time. 
After the ancient DB MkIII the DB4 was a revelation as it was agile, fast and more practical. The car would evolve to become the even more valuable DB5 and then the DB6, which is marginally more affordable. But only marginally...
And you can’t talk about the DB4 without getting into the values. There’s no doubt that rising values are a double-edged sword, pricing many would-be owners out of the market. But even if you will never be able to afford a classic like the DB4, then you can take some small comfort in knowing that high prices are keeping specialists and parts suppliers in business. That benefits all of us in the long run, and it means that more and more cars are being restored, to higher standards than ever before.

Which DB4 to buy?

It’s amazing how many barn-find projects still come onto the market – what’s even more incredible is how much money they tend to fetch. It seems that many buyers assume that values of these cars are now so high that they can always be restored economically but that’s not necessarily the case; a full rebuild will be hugely expensive so you might be doing well just to break even. 
While almost everything can be rebuilt and repaired, it’s vital that a car you’re looking at is complete. Some small but significant parts are very hard to find now – quarterlight catches, heater control levers and seat runners, to give just a few examples. The DB4 evolved quite rapidly during production and there were lots of minor changes.
Paradoxically, although classic Astons are being rebuilt to better-than-new standards and using modern solutions to age-old problems, owners are veering more and more towards originality in the way their cars are finished. Whereas a few years ago it was all about 4.2-litre engines, air conditioning, power-assisted steering and so on, people want them original in the belief that it adds value in the long run. 
The regular DB4 is very valuable but the GTs, convertibles and Zagato-bodied cars are even more so. Which derivative you buy will possibly be dictated by your budget as well as what’s available, but assuming it’s the standard car – which is by far the most common of the various DB4 derivatives – you don’t have too many choices to make.
All of these cars came with a four-speed manual gearbox, but later on there was a Vantage engine option which is sought after so it fetches a premium. Colour schemes tend to be on the sober side and most cars have now been restored – some better than others. So the best piece of buying advice is to make sure that you’re getting what you think you’re getting as tarted up or poorly restored cars aren’t rare. If in doubt engage an expert to inspect any potential purchase for you – they’ll almost certainly spot things that you won’t and could save you a lot of money.

Performance and specs

Engine  3670cc, six-cylinder
Power 240bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 240lb ft @ 4250rpm
Transmission Four-speed manual
0-62mph 8.5sec
Top speed 141mph
Fuel consumption  15.0mpg
Price when new £3980

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase              2489mm 
Length 4480mm
Width 1676mm
Height 1321mm
Weight 1308kg

Common problems

• The DB4 uses Carrozzeria Touring’s Superleggera construction techniques. This consists of a stiff steel structure of welded, lightly pressed panels, topped by small-diameter steel tubes which are all welded together to form a stiff tub which is then clad in lightweight aluminium panels. Such a complicated construction combined with poor rustproofing when new means there’s plenty of potential for wallet-wilting repair bills.
• Start your checks with the sills, which can be hugely expensive to repair properly. Brittle aluminium panels are sometimes irretrievable so major panel replacement becomes the only option, along with a full repaint.
• The whole of the chassis needs careful inspection and look for electrolytic corrosion where the bumper tubes pass through the body. The doors are aluminium-skinned over a steel frame and rot from the bottom up. Also check the boot floor and on convertibles look for stress cracks in the bodyshell between the boot and the fuel filler flap.
• Although any handbuilt car like an Aston Martin will always require skilled labour to restore, advances in technology have made it easier to achieve really durable and consistent results. For example, at Aston Engineering, after the chassis and Superleggera framework have been shotblasted, instead of being painted in red-oxide as they were at the factory, the bare metal is now powdercoated with a semi-matt black and very tough chip-resistant coating, which is electrostatically attracted into every nook and cranny. 
• The engine doesn’t have any weaknesses as such, but it won’t take neglect and it wears out eventually. With any rebuild work fiendishly expensive you need to make sure none is needed, so look for blue exhaust smoke under acceleration. Expect oil pressure of at least 80psi at 3000rpm on a healthy engine when hot.
• Undertake the usual checks for failed head gaskets plus oil and water leaks, and make sure the anti-freeze concentration is correct, to stop the all-alloy engine from corroding internally.
• Look down the right-hand side of the engine block, where there are weep holes from the cylinder liners. Brace yourself for a complete overhaul if there’s any significant staining or leaks present.
• If the timing chain hasn’t been replaced within the last 75,000 miles it’ll need doing soon or it’ll snap, leading to bent valves. If properly maintained, a DB4 engine will notch up well over 100,000 miles between rebuilds with nothing more than routine maintenance.
• Until very recently, it’s not been cost-effective to have parts remanufactured, due to the small quantities required; lower front wishbones are one of the more significant components that haven’t been available for years. Even so, RS Williams offers a repair kit for those – it’s usually the straight steel brake-reactor section that gets bent in an accident – and there isn’t much that can’t be obtained from specialists or, indeed, Aston Martin itself.
• The four-speed manual David Brown gearbox is strong but eventually the layshaft bearings wear leading to chattering when idling in neutral. Also expect tired synchromesh eventually, but rebuilt transmissions are available and the costs aren’t ridiculous.
• If you’re planning to buy your DB4 to use it, it’s worth pinning down exactly which diff ratio is fitted as there were various ones offered. It’s worth having a higher ratio for more relaxed cruising.
• The suspension needs to be lubricated every 2500 miles or so if it’s not to wear. For many cars this represents several years’ use, which is why it’s often overlooked.
• These cars originally featured crossply tyres but most now sport radials. Anything over 185-section rubber will make the steering very heavy at manoeuvring speeds which is why power steering conversions are popular.
• The interior trim is straightforward, so overhauling everything won’t trouble a competent trimmer. It won’t be cheap, but compared with the value of the car it’s not a deal-breaker.

Model history

1958: The Aston Martin DB4 coupé is introduced.
1959: The DB4 GT arrives. It’s a two-seater that’s five inches shorter and features a twin-spark engine that produces a claimed 302bhp. With a kerb weight 80kg lighter than for the regular DB4, the GT can do 0-60mph in just 6.1 seconds and tops out at 152mph. Just 75 are built, along with 19 ultra-light Zagato-bodied cars.
1960: The bonnet is now front-hinged and the capacity of the sump is increased.
1961: Overdrive is now available as an optional extra, the thickness of the body panels is reduced and triple rear lights are adopted. The heater is improved, a Vantage engine option is introduced (with triple SU carburettors, bigger valves and a higher compression to give 266bhp) and a DB4 convertible is now offered; 70 are built.
1962: The length is increased by 3.5 inches to increase rear seat leg room. At the same time, 15-inch wheels are adopted, in place of the previous 16-inch items.
1963: The DB5 supersedes the DB4, after 1040 have been built.

Owners clubs, forums and websites

• www.amoc.org – Aston Martin Owners’ Club
• www.amocna.org – Aston Martin Owners’ Club North America
• www.astonmartinworks.com – Aston Martin Works, the official Aston Martin workshop
• www.rswilliams.co.uk – RS Williams, Aston Martin specialist
• www.djsmail.co.uk – Desmond J Smail, Aston Martin specialist 

Summary and prices

The DB4 is perhaps one of the most desirable Aston Martins ever built, and that’s partly why values have been continually rising for many years. The cheapest model is the standard DB4 derivative, which today ranges from £350,000-£500,000 for a car in average condition. Top cars can cost up to £650,000. 
Convertible models are very rare, and values are significantly higher. Pay £750,000-£1,000,000 for an average car, with the very best pushing £1.3m. The short wheelbase GT models are in a different league, with average cars selling for £1.5m-£1.8m, although some will go for more than £2.5m. Zagatos range from £6m-£10m, depending on history and provenance.
Aston Martin DB4 Aston Martin DB4 Aston Martin DB4 Aston Martin DB4 Aston Martin DB4
Last updated: 19th Apr 2017
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Aston Martin DB4 cars for sale

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Aston Martin DB4
0 495000 GBP


    SOLD TO SWITZERLAND Brand Aston Martin Type DB 4 Convertible Color Grey Interior Red Year of build 1963 Price Sold 1963 ASTON MARTIN DB4 CONVERTIBLE This wonderful and very rare series 5 version DB 4 Convertible has been sold to Switzerland. Please contact us if you are interested in buying or selling a rare/unique automobile. MORE INFORMATION For more information or an appointment, please call Rutger Houtkamp+31625098150 or send an e-mail to Rutger@Houtkamp.nl . Please do not hesitate to contact us by phone during evenings or in the weekend. The Houtkamp Collection is centrally located near Amsterdam and only 10 minutes from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Please contact us directly or fill in the form to receive more information on this specific car Your Name (required) Your Email (required) Your phone number Subject Your Message The information provided on this website has been compiled by The Houtkamp Collection with the utmost care. The information contained within this advert is provided ‘as-is’, without warranties as to its accuracy whether expressed or implied and is intended for informational purposes only. The Houtkamp Collection is not liable for any errors or mistakes.

    • Year: 1963
    For sale
    The Houtkamp Collection
  • 1962 Aston Martin DB4 – Series V


    Chassis No: DB4/1119/R Engine 370/1074/SS ] The Aston Martin DB4 was produced between October 1958 and June 1963. It featured highly evocative coachwork, designed by Touring of Milan using their “Superleggera” system of alloy panels fixed to a tubular frame. The new engine was an all alloy, twin overhead camshaft, six cylinder unit of 3.7 litres. The DB4 evolved through five ‘Series’ as developments were introduced. This car is a rare and beautiful example of the ultimate specification; an original right hand drive ‘Series V’ Vantage and is correctly finished in its original colours of ‘Fiesta Red’ with fawn leather to the interior. The up-rated Vantage engine specification had been introduced as an optional extra in 1961. This car therefore benefits from three SU HD8 carburettors, 9:1 compression ratio and larger valves producing 266 bhp at 5,750 rpm. In addition the car was fitted from new with an oil cooler, which was another optional extra and a high-ratio back axle. This Aston Martin DB4 has an impressive mechanical specification and this is complemented by the styling improvements that had been introduced for the ‘Series V’ which principally were covered headlamps and the DB4

    • Year: 1962
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB4 Convertible


    1963 Aston Martin DB4 Convertible 1 of only 70 built Aston Martin Bristol is honoured to offer for sale one of the most desirable and iconic Aston Martin models ever produced; the DB4 Convertible. The DB4 heralded a new era for Aston Martin and put the company back in competition with other high performance sports car manufacturers. The convertible model was announced at the London Motor Show in 1961 and featured a 3.6 litre straight six, which produced 240 horsepower. The DB4 was one of the first production cars capable of 0-60 mph in less than 10 seconds. Our car is finished in stunning Caribbean Pearl with a Dark Blue leather interior – its original factory colour combination from 1963. This DB4 Convertible has a wealth of history, notably including a full suspension rebuild in 2005, a complete engine and engine bay rebuild in 2008, bodywork restoration in 2015 and a complete re-trim in 2016. The car comes complete with a fully restored detachable colour-coded hardtop and cover, which in itself is an incredibly rare option. This gorgeous DB4 Convertible has had a substantial amount of coverage at various Concours events over the years, including numerous entries into the Aston Martin Owners Club Concours, the Royal Windsor Concours and the Louis Vuitton Concours D’Elegance. Every entry is recorded through photographs, entry slips and newspaper cuttings, which all add to the unique and comprehensive history of this car. Linking Aston Martin’s renowned style and performance with the joys of the open-air, the DB4 Convertible is the rarest Aston Martin road car of the David Brown era (with the exception of the Zagato), with a total production of just 70 examples. What’s more, this truly remarkable example is one of only five DB4 Convertible’s known to exist with a matching hardtop. To find out more about this beautiful Aston Martin DB4 Convertible, or to make an enquiry, do not hesitate to contact our friendly sales team today on +44 (0) 1179 007 007 or email info@astonmartinbristol.co.uk

    • Year: 1963
    • Mileage: 145766 mi
    • Engine size: 3.7
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB4 GT


    Mayfair 020 7125 1400 | Maldon 01621 879579 Arriving soon - a very rare and desirable Aston Martin DB4GT RHD This example was constructed in early 1961 and delivered to its first owner a Mr R Aird via dealer Ken Rudd in March of that year. Originally finished in Dubonnet with Black interior it was unusual in having standard DB4 front seats and two occasional rear seats incorporated into the parcel shelf area. The car is also distinguished in having featured in the 1962 Peter Sellers film The Wrong Arm of the Law, where it was driven by Sellers himself, who also briefly owned the car. After just four years of motoring, the car returned to the factory in March 1965 where it received a colour change, to Fiesta Red, and had flares fitted to the front and rear arches. The next significant change in ownership occurred in 1966 when Mr Melville-Smith purchased the car and entered it into a number of club racing events, achieving a first place at Curborough in 1967. By 1975 the DB4GT had been repainted Dark Green and moved to a Mr Kenneth Moses, who emigrated to New Zealand in 1981, taking the Aston Martin with him. During the car’s sojourn abroad it saw little use with only 5000 miles bein

    • Year: 1961
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB4 Series IV


    Mayfair 020 7125 1400 | Maldon 01621 879579 Coming soon, a 1962 Aston Martin DB4 Series IV saloon. Originally supplied to the UK in Off White with Terracotta trim. Original Factory options included, overdrive, chrome wire wheels and heated rear screen. The history file contains details of service records and previous keepers. Acquired by RS Williams in 2001 and restored in association with Bodylines and Shapecraft, the engine was upgraded to 4.2 Litre specification with triple carburettors etc. During restoration the DB4 was converted to LHD and finished in the current colour scheme of Black Pearl with Deep Burgundy hide. Additional information to follow upon the car’s arrival. Photos show a similar car. Please contact us for further details.

    • Year: 1962
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB4 Series IV - £POA


    Chassis Number: DB4/818/L Engine Number: 370/791 UK Registration Number: TBA Date of first reg: 29th November 1961 Exterior colour: Aegean Blue Hood: Interior colour: Black Leather Current Odometer reading: 71300 km Mileage Warranty: Steering: Left Transmission: Manual Options: Chrome Wire Wheels Background Background: When the single pale primrose DB4 was launched at the Paris Salon in October 1958, Marcel Blondeau, the French distributor for Aston Martin approached John Wyer on the stand with tears in his eyes “This is not a car, it is a folly, but I can sell as many as you can supply.” With a top speed of 140 mph, it was one of the fastest four seaters in the world and was on a par with the best of Italian Grand Turismos. Not wholly surprising, given the decision to have this distillation of years of Feltham ideas designed by Touring of Milan using their “Superleggera” system. The body consisted entirely of aluminium mounted on a trellis of small diameter steel tubes welded together. Body panels were attached to the trellis and clinched around angle plates which were welded to the members with graphite pads. Items like windscreen, rear window frames an angle sections for the doo

    For sale
  • 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT


    Registration: TBA Chassis No: DB4GT/0158/R Engine No: 370/0145/GT Aston Martin were very aware that the benefits of their success on the race track were far greater than the costs of taking part and had a significant effect on sales and the public perception of the brand. The DB4, their new model for 1958, was a great success featuring the Tadek Marek all alloy engine and iconic coachwork by Touring, but the design team knew it was not really a high performance sports racer and were working on the ‘GT’ before the DB4 had entered production. To achieve the performance they were looking for the car needed to be lighter. This was principally achieved by shortening the wheelbase by 5 inches and making the body out of lightweight 18 gauge magnesium alloy as opposed to the weightier 16 gauge aluminium used for the DB4. Weight was shed wherever possible and accordingly the car had no rear seats, bumpers without over-riders and Borrani wheels. The weight saving was 185lbs and the car was also fitted with disc brakes all round, Perspex covers to the headlights and a large bonnet air-intake and another below the grill to service the oil cooler. The engine was uprated and notably fitted with

    • Year: 1961
    For sale
  • 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Recreation


    Registration No: FAS 302 Chassis No: DB4/272/R Aston Martin had all but withdrawn from racing by 1960; they had won Le Mans and the Constructor’s Championship in 1959 and felt that they could rest on their laurels. However, it quickly dawned on them that the benefits of their success on the track were far greater than the costs of taking part and had a significant effect on sales. Accordingly, shortly after the launch of the DB4 GT it was decided to get back into racing. They found the competition had grown even more formidable and they needed a faster, lighter and more competitive car. Initially Aston Martin approached Touring to see if they could come up with a new design, but their preferred coachbuilder already had its hands full with its own high volume work. However they introduced Aston Martin to the local firm of Zagato, a smaller company that could produce the specialist work required and in small numbers. However, at Zagato the project was given to a 23 year junior designer fresh from University, Ercole Spada. Despite his inexperience and as he recalls that he spent no more than a week on the main design and much of that polishing what he had produced in just a few days,

    • Year: 1960
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB4

    £399,995 £399,995

    This Series 2 DB4 retains all of its particular- to- series body features, including the early ‘Art Deco’ rear lights, grille and bonnet scoop. It’s all a matter of taste, but these fittings do make the early DB4s purer for many collectors than the later cars. The engine is the original ‘matching numbers’ unit, but the cylinder head has been considerably upgraded some years ago to unleash a notable amount of the extra power potential that these units have in reserve. This includes special camshafts and porting, and a triple SU carb set-up. Not only is the engine straining at the leash when blipped from idle, but the performance on the open road is far more satisfying than a standard DB4. This lovely example was delivered on 26th November 1960 for the use of Mr John Bowthorpe, bearing the distinctive registration plate JB 720. Originally finished in Pale Primrose with black Connolly hide, the car has subsequently received a high quality colour change to a very attractive shade of deep red. Following two further owners in the UK and warranty work recorded until 1968 it was later purchased by the President of the Italian Section of the Aston Martin Owners Club, Massimo Meli. During his ownership in 1999 the publication Ruote Classiche used the car as a cover car in a 10page article. In 2011 it was brought back to the UK and was able to once again maintain the original ‘James Bond’ registration initials as delivered back in 1960. This new owner used the car at UK AMOC events over the years and had Aston Specialists check the car annually, only travelling a few hundred miles each year. With only 1,110 DB4s manufactured across all 5 series and prices of DB4s going skywards, we are delighted to offer this most useable Series 2. With options to drive or improve, this great driving Aston certainly represents investment with prices of restored cars now in excess of £500k.

    • Year: 1960
    • Mileage: 6000 mi
    For sale
  • Aston Martin DB4

    £495,000 £495,000

    Variant: Series II We are delighted to offer this beautiful Aston Martin DB4, immaculately finished in RSW Green with Tan full leather interior. The car was originally supplied by OKE Bros Ltd of Kingsbridge, Devon to Mrs Mary Crook in February 1961. The car then passed to Mr Charles N Hill of Sidmouth in April 1965. The third owner was Mr Colin Bond, who purchased the car in November 1966 and he registered it to his company Thompson Bros Ltd of Bridgewater in Somerset. The mileage at this time was 28,700 miles and Mr Bond managed to drive the car for a little over 6 years until poor health caused him to put the car into storage for almost 10 years. In 1981 the car was fully serviced and made ready for the road again, now showing 57,213 miles however, she only travelled a further 55 miles that year before being placed back into storage. In 1982 the car passed onto Mr Colin Bond's son and it remained in storage until February 1998, when it was then sold to its last keeper, who by chance had actually known the car and its previous owner since 1966. From 1999 until 2002 the car had been subject to a detailed restoration. The full bodywork restoration was carried out by Bodylines Specialist Panel Beaters and Spray Tec Restorations Ltd, with Motorman Engineering tackling the full detailing restoration. The engine was rebuilt to a 4.2 litre unleaded specification, complete with vantage cams. The original SU Carburettors were retained in order to maintain the original standard look. Other works which had been carried out include a full flow oil cooler and electric radiator fan, which have been hidden from view. The suspension has been uprated with new springs, a thicker anti roll bar and Koni shock absorbers to the front. A high ratio back axle with Powerlock limited slip differential has also been fitted. The front brakes have been uprated and new Borrani wire wheels fitted, complete with spinners (an original option from new). The entire restoration has kept originality coupled with practicality at the forefront of its mind. Any upgrades to the original specification have simply been to improve the comfort and drivability of the car, without altering the iconic features and stunning characteristics. In 2004, thanks to the absolutely superb restoration, this car won 1st place in the Elite Class at the Aston Martin Owners Club Concours, held at Woburn Abbey.

    • Year: 1961
    • Mileage: 59700 mi
    • Engine size: 4.2
    For sale
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