Is this Aston Martin the most valuable British car ever?

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[+21 photos and video] An Aston Martin with an incredible history will be offered at R M Sotheby’s car sale at Monterey, during the famous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and is expected to reach the highest ever price for a British car, around $20 million.

It’s the DBR1, Astron Martin’s equivalent to the Ferrari 250 GTO and the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. It was commissioned by David Brown, owner of Aston Martin in the 1950s and 60s, to compete in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race for sports car.

The car for sale is actually DBR1/1, the first of five examples built by the factory between 1956 and 1958. It was a purpose-built competition car developed by racing design chief, Ted Cutting.

The DBR1 boasted a lighter, faster 3.0-litre engine than its DB3S predecessor, set into a small tube spaceframe chassis with an all-new rear end. The gearbox was replaced by the new semi-dry sump, five-speed transaxle, and the new racer was equipped with cast-iron Girling disc brakes with groundbreaking light alloy calipers.

DBR1/1 made its debut at the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans at the hands of Tony Brooks and Reg Parnell, retiring after more than 22 hours with engine bearing failure. The car’s impressive list of Works entries that followed saw the who’s who of endurance racing behind its wheel, including Carroll Shelby, Roy Salvadori, Stirling Moss, and Jack Brabham.

Aston Martin DBR1
All photos RM Sothebys

Entries included two more runs at Le Mans in 1957 and 1958, the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1958 and 1959, as well as three entries at the Nürburgring 1000km, in 1957, 1958 and 195. In the 1959 race. it won with Sir Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman driving. This marked the third consecutive win for Aston Martin and the DBR1. The win at Nürburgring also played a major role in securing Aston Martin the 1959 World Sportscar Championship victory — the first time a British manufacturer had done so.

Nürburgring was DBR1/1’s final appearance as a Works entrant, but it would return under privateer Essex Racing Stable in both 1961 and 1962. The Aston was then sold to John Dawnay, future Viscount Downe and Aston Martin Owner’s Club president, under whose ownership it saw considerable historic racing success in the early 1980s.

The car passed through another major collection, during which time it was awarded the Most Elegant Sports Car Trophy at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, before landing with its current owner.

For $20m, the buyer will get DBR1/1 and its final Works fitted engine. However, it’s currently equipped with a bespoke, completely correct reproduction engine manufactured by Aston Martin specialist Richard Stewart Williams.

The DBR1/1 is one of four Aston Martins up for sale at the Monterey auction. The others are:

1935 Aston Martin1935 Aston Martin Ulster Competition Sports, a former Works-supported car which competed in the 1935 Mille Miglia, and secured a fourth in class finish at Le Mans that same year before winning the Targa Abruzzo in 1936. It is a highly eligible historic racer, ready for the Le Mans Classic, the Mille Miglia, Goodwood, and the Monaco Historic Grand Prix (Est. $2.5m – $3m).

Aston Martin DBR4GT1959 Aston Martin DB4GT, chassis no. DP199. DP199 (Design Project) is considered to be the most important non-Zagato DB4GT. It took overall victory in its first competitive outing at Silverstone in 1959, driven by Sir Stirling Moss,a nd raced at Le Mans. It has been restored to its 1959 Le Mans specification. (Est. $6m – $8m).

Aston Martin DBR92006 Aston Martin DBR9, chassis no. DBR9/9. In 2006-2007, DBR9/9 was one of four chassis campaigned by Scuderia Italia BMS, operating under semi-Works status, competing at Le Mans and Spa and scoring four FIA GT1 class podium finishes. (Est. $275,000 – $375,000).

“This is the most significant group of Astons to ever come to auction,” sais Barney Ruprecht of RM Sotheby’s.

“It is a true privilege to be entrusted with the sale of all four remarkable cars. From the Ulster—the pinnacle of pre-war competition—to the founding member of the DB4GT family, the ultimate Aston in the DBR1, all the way through to modern times with the DBR9, the group represents the complete lineage of Aston Martin competition history.”

The auction is over two days, Friday/Saturday 18/19 August. Click here for more info.

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