The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype joins the Ferrari 250 GTO and Ford GT40 in what is to be the most historic lineup ever at RM Sotheby’s: Monterey auction (24–25 August, Monterey).
I n its 2017 Monterey auction, RM Sotheby’s sold the 1956 Aston Martin DBR1/1 for $22,550,000 – the current record for the most valuable British car ever sold at auction. As the most important Works Le Mans Aston Martin, the DP215 represents the zenith of Aston Martin racing and is poised to make auction history again. Developed for Le Mans, it was also the first car to break 300 kph with American racing icon Phil Hill driving. After British entrepreneur and then-Aston Martin company owner David Brown approved the car in March 1963, it was ordered directly by John Wyer, designed by chief engineer Ted Cutting and fitted with an engine by Tadek Marek, thus becoming the final racing car built by the factory in the Brown era.
“The DP cars are completely one-off competition projects and are essentially on their own level when it comes to Aston Martin racing royalty. DP215 is the pinnacle of the Works team's racing development, and the new owner will acquire a car that is...more capable of running at the front of the pack than virtually any other racing car on the market.”
By no means a converted road car, this was the ultimate evolution of Aston Martin’s racing program, not to mention the last of the four completely one-off “Development Project” cars, with its sights set squarely on the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans just two months away. Ultra-lightweight with a four-liter version of the DP212 engine set farther back in the chassis and cutting-edge wind tunnel-tested aerodynamics, the car was piloted by American ace driver Phil Hill, a three-time Le Mans-winner and the first ever American Formula 1 World Champion, paired with Belgian Grand Prix and endurance-racing veteran Lucien Bianchi. What the duo achieved is almost unfathomable, clocking a staggering 198.6 mph along the famed Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans and becoming the first car to officially break the 300 kph barrier.
Following its racing career, DP215 has always enjoyed a well-documented and illustrious chain of enthusiast owners, who in later years even engaged Ted Cutting himself to consult on and approve the authenticity of the car’s long-term restoration. The current owners, Neil and Nigel Corner, vintage racing drivers of considerable renown and expertise, perfected the car’s restoration by reuniting DP215 with its original engine, 400/215/1, which was separated from the chassis very early in the car’s history but is indeed the very powerplant with which Phil Hill raced at Le Mans.
“The lines of the car are absolute perfection. You can see where its outstanding maximum speed came from. What’s more, its performance cannot be overemphasized - from a driving point of view, the acceleration in 2nd and 3rd gears always caused the hairs on the back of my hand to stand up,” says Neil Corner. “The car feels like a thoroughbred to drive – the steering is delightfully light, the brakes are outstanding for the era, and there’s nothing quite like the bark of its incredible exhaust note. I’ve driven DP215 everywhere, from rush hour traffic in the busy streets of Paris to full speed on some of the world’s greatest circuits.”