The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was introduced in October 1960 at the London Motor Show. It was effectively a DB4 GT, lightened and improved by the Zagato factory in Italy, by Ercole Spada. Initially the factory had plans to produce 25 cars, but demand was not as strong as expected and production ceased at the 20th unit.
The popularity of the original DB4 GT Zagato has resulted in two subsequent waves of cars based on DB4s being rendered into “Zagatos” through the cooperation of Aston Martin and the Zagato works in Italy. They are known as “Sanction II” and “Sanction III” cars. Also, an unauthorised but lucrative private industry of modifying original DB4 GTs into “Zagato” replicas has arisen as well to meet market demand for high-quality Zagato recreations.
Four of the original Zagato’s chassis, №s 0191, 0193, 0182 (1 VEV) and 0183 (2 VEV), were built to a lightened DP207/209 specification especially for racing. The DP209 cars have a lower roofline, larger rear wings, a reshaped tail and a flatter, longer front end. The first competition outing of a DB4 GT Zagato was at Eastertime in 1961 at Goodwood. Driven by Stirling Moss, the car finished 3rd, behind an Aston Martin DB4GT and the winning Ferrari 250 GT.
The most prominent DB4 GT Zagatos, affectionately known by the registration plates they share, 1 VEV and 2 VEV, which were both raced under John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable, with assistance from the Aston Martin factory. Both the Zagatos raced in the 1961 24 Hours of Le Mans. However a repeat of the 1959 Le Mans victory was not to be, with both cars retiring. In July 1961 at a British Grand Prix Support race, the Zagato had its first victory with 2 VEV taking the last lap lead from a Jaguar E Type. The 2 VEV crashed badly at Spa in 1962 and was rebuilt to the lightweight DP209 specification. After a road accident in 1993, the car was returned to the 1962 specification.