*One of only 70 DB4 convertibles made *Restored by Desmond J Smail *Vantage-specification engine *Air conditioning and other upgrades
'The Aston Martin DB4 was perhaps the finest compromise which the David Brown-owned company ever achieved between exceptionally high-quality, exceptionally high-performance, exceptionally lavish finishing and yet properly contained overall size and weight a great British product, benefiting from the styling input of Touring of Milan...' Motors, 1965.
Classically proportioned and instantly recognisable from the moment of its introduction in 1958, the Touring-styled Aston Martin DB4 established a look that would survive, with only minor revisions, until 1970. Moreover, it was the first Aston Martin to carry CarrozzeriaTouring's 'Superleggera' bodywork, in which light alloy panels were fixed to a framework of light-gauge steel tubes welded to a platform chassis. Although styled by Touring, the DB4's gorgeous fastback coachwork was built under license at Newport Pagnell by Aston Martin, which employed some of the finest panel beaters in the industry. The result was a car whose sleek lines were described as 'unmistakably Italian and yet... equally unmistakably Aston Martin'.
Designed by Tadek Marek and already proven in racing, the DB4's new twin-cam six-cylinder engine displaced 3,670cc while the gearbox was a new David Brown four-speed all-synchromesh unit. An immensely strong platform-type chassis, designed by Harold Beach, replaced the preceding DB2/4's multi-tubular spaceframe, the latter being considered incompatible with Touring's Superleggera body construction. The DB2/4's trailing-link independent front suspension gave way to unequal-length wishbones while at the rear the DB4 sported a live axle located by a Watts linkage instead of its predecessor's Panhard rod. Boasting disc brakes all round and with 240bhp on tap, the DB4 was the first production car capable of accelerating from a standing start to 100mph and back to rest again in under 30 seconds. At a time when few family saloons were capable of exceeding 70mph and took an age to get there, this staggering performance made the DB4 just about the fastest thing on the road, easily the equal of its Italian rivals. The DB4 was available only as a closed sports saloon until September 1961 when the convertible version was unveiled at that year's Motor Show. Priced at £4,449, it was £250 more expensive than the saloon and arguably prettier. Passenger space was little changed, though there was more headroom than the saloon could offer.
Manufactured between October 1958 and June 1963, the DB4 developed through no fewer than five series. However, it should be made clear that the cars were not thus designated by the factory, this nomenclature having been suggested subsequently by the Aston Martin Owners Club to aid identification as the model evolved. The first cars had already undergone a number of improvements, including the fitting of heavy-duty bumpers after the first 50 had been made, before the 2nd series arrived in January 1960. A front-hinged bonnet, bigger brake callipers and an enlarged sump were the major changes made on the Series II, while the 3rd series featured separate rear lights, two bonnet stays and a host of improvements to the interior fittings. The 4th series was readily distinguishable by its new grille, with seven vertical bars, shallower bonnet intake and recessed rear lights, while the final (5th) series manufactured between September 1962 and June 1963 was built on a 3½" longer wheelbase (allowing for increased leg room and a larger boot) and gained 15" wheels, an electric radiator fan and the DB4GT-type instrument panel. Including Vantage and convertible models, approximately 1,100 DB4s were produced between 1958 and 1963.
Chassis number '1168/R' was sold new via Aston Martin agents Brooklands in July 1963 to Mr Dino Accini of Holland Road, London and originally was finished in Fiesta Red with fawn Connolly hide interior trim. It was maintained by the factory at Newport Pagnell until 1970 by which time it had passed into the ownership of a Dr Richardson of Wellington, Somerset and subsequently to a Mr J H Vernon from Edgbaston in Birmingham. At some point after 1970 the car was left to decay until the early 1990s. It was then purchased from Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd by Mr David Ciclitira, who commissioned renowned marque specialist Desmond J Smail to completely restore the car.
Carried out between November 1993 and August 1996, the rebuild included full chassis and body rebuild by marque specialist Bodylines, a full re-spray by the marque specialist Spraytech, in Winchester Blue and an engine rebuild, as well as fitting air conditioning and a new convertible hood. This beautiful Aston then remained in Mr Ciclitira's ownership until 2013, being lovingly cared for by Desmond J Smail. Since restoration the engine has been upgraded to Vantage specification (in December 2000) while in June 2013 the gearbox was overhauled; the rear axle rebuilt to incorporate a Powr-Lok limited-slip differential, RS Williams dampers installed; and new tyres fitted at a cost in excess of £27,000. Additional upgrades include a discreet modern radio, fire extinguishing system, negative-earth electrics, alloy wheel rims, electric windows, central locking and an alarm. A stunning example of one of the final, 5th series, '1168/R' comes complete with a rare original factory hard top, a good history file, V5C registration document, MoT to August 2015 and detailed restoration records.
Combining Aston Martin's traditional virtues of style and performance with the joys of open-air motoring, the DB4 Convertible is most sought after and highly prized today. With the exception of the Zagato, the DB4 Convertible is the rarest Aston Martin road car of the David Brown era with a total of only 70 built, six less than the legendary DB4 GT.