Serving a Life Sentence

Reluctant to give up the fight with Ferrari, Aston Martin developed a new version of the DB4 GT to run under the new four-litre prototype rules of 1962.

Drastic measures were needed to bring the Aston Martin DB4 GT to the V12 Ferrari 250 GT. 

Aston Martin commissioned Italian coachbuilder Zagato, who had earned quite a reputation, to design and construct an even lighter body. 

Although lighter and more powerful than ever, the DB4 GT Zagato still could not match the Ferraris.

 The final DB4 GT Aston, constructed with a Bertone-styled body, was shown at the 1961 Geneva and Turin Motor Shows.

To catch and beat Ferrari, Aston built the DP215, a prototype sports car for grand touring racing in 1963.

Using significantly more aluminium for the chassis, it was considerably lighter than the DB4 GT.

Developed as a one-off prototype for the illustrious 24 Hours of Le Mans, the DP215 boasted a radical departure from Aston Martin’s racing lineage. 

Its sleek, aerodynamic bodywork achieved blistering speeds on the Le Mans circuit.

Powered by a 4.0-liter inline-six engine, producing 323hp, yet still failed to topple Ferrari’s crown.

Despite mechanical setbacks during its brief racing incumbency, the DP215 left an inerasable mark on the track. 

Setting a lap record during practice at the 1963 Le Mans, hitting up to 198 mph speeds on the Mulsanne Straight.

Aston Martin produced only one DP215 prototype.

Today, it would command staggering prices at auction, a testament to its rarity and historical significance.

Despite its setbacks at Le Mans, the DP215’s advanced aerodynamics and robust engine left an enduring imprint on Aston Martin’s racing ethos. 

Elements of its design echoed in subsequent models.

Most striking was the completely new body, which from the front resembled the Le Mans-winning DBR1 and much later inspired the designers of the DB7 Vantage.

In essence, the Aston Martin DP215 stands as a timeless icon.

It is revered for its ground-breaking design, formidable performance, and enduring legacy in automotive engineering.

‘If speed were a crime, the DP215 would be serving a life sentence’.