The 75th Members’ Meeting has its auction star: an Aston Martin DP214 replica that sold for half a million pounds in a pre-sale agreement ahead of the auction on Sunday afternoon.
The green Aston in the Bonhams MM sale, which sold for £551,666 including the premium, joins the exclusive ranks of just three other DP214 reps, one of which was racing in the Graham Hill Trophy at MM. The only DP214 survivor from period is thought to be safely tucked away.
The sale car is a 1961 DB4 re-bodied to look like the Development Project 214 car, the last of the racing Astons based on the DB4. DP214 was never a Le Mans winner but being significantly lighter and more streamlined than the DB4 GT, it raised that car’s top speed from 150mph to nearly 200mph.
3729 UM (its 1961 registration) was built between 2010 and 2014 in a project that involved a variety of Aston specialists with final assembly under the auspices of leading Aston Martin race preparer, Rex Woodgate. The car was commissioned by a historic race driver who wanted to move up from DB4s to the two ultimate DB4 competition cars: the GT Zagato and the DP214. Options for the real thing being limited in either case, he simply decided to have his own built.
The DP214 for sale was built as an exact facsimile of the second of the two DP214s built in period and which both competed at Le Mans in ’63. While chassis 0194 went on to compete again at Le Mans and at Goodwood in the TT, driven by the likes of Bruce McLaren, chassis 0195 was destroyed after crashing at the Nurburgring in 1964, killing its owner/driver Brian Hetreed.
The authenticity extends not just to its 1961 DB4 mechanicals, including its 3,760cc straight six built to original Le Mans spec, but also to details like switchgear. Much of that comes from a Lancaster bomber, and the fuel tap is from a Spitfire! The glut of ex-military equipment available after the war was exactly what Aston made use of at the time.
Bonhams says this is the most accurate DP214 replica and a car that was made without compromise at enormous cost. The interior was trimmed by ex-Aston craftsmen and the only concessions to historic racing are those required by safety regulations and to ensure reliable fuel delivery.
The car has already proved its historic racing credentials with starts that include the Spa 6 Hours, Silverstone Classic and Le Mans Legends support race. Last year it raced in the Daytona Historics meeting followed by the Sebring 12 Hour Historics event where, on road tyres, the only cars to beat it were slick-shod GT40s and Lola T70s.
Replicas that sell for half a million are by no means unusual these days; we live in a world when a series of new Aston Martin-made DB4 GT “continuation” models are for sale at £1.5m each.
Bonhams says that to build a similar car today would cost in excess of £750,000 and take around three years. It appears that someone bagged a bit of a bargain…
Photography by Tom Shaxson