Most of us will never hold the keys to a 1961 Aston Martin DB4 in our hands. Even fewer will grab the thing by its collar and wrestle it around a racecourse. Thanks, in part, to its ironclad ties to Ian Fleming’s famous spy, the car is a thing of legend. Its shape is stamped on our collective consciousness, its lines synonymous with all things lethal and, by proxy, cool. No wonder, then, that the DB4 found favor on the world’s race courses in its day, luring many a well-monied young man to test himself against physics, metal, and the thinner parts of himself.
Aston Martin was happy to oblige, building the factory-prepared, lightweight DB4GT. Those who couldn’t afford that piece of glory were left to screw their own competition cars together, which is why so many surviving DB4s wear the marks of modification under their sheetmetal.
If you’re thinking that sliding a vintage Aston around Silverstone on a foggy autumn morning in Northamptonshire sounds like a specific type of Nirvana, you’re probably right. And that’s likely why Richard Williams spent most of his life bent towards building machines like this one. Williams, who passed away last year, famously began working with Aston Martins after taking an internship with the company when he was just 16. From there, he tended Peter Sellers’ personal collection, maintaining the actor’s fleet of road-going and racing Astons while living over the man’s garage. And when Williams was 23, he took a loan from his mother and started Richard Stewart Williams Limited, the company that would become the authority on preserving, maintaining, and modifying Aston Martins. Specifically competition cars.
R S Williams punched the engine out to 4.5 liters, which, along with custom camshafts, Cosworth pistons, Corillo rods, three Weber 55 carburetors, helps the powerplant now make 416 horsepower. More than enough to give the bastards in the paddock something to think about.
This car found itself at R S Williams in the early aughts, where it received the full brunt of the company’s expertise. The car came from the factory with a respectable 3.7-liter straight six that produced around 240 horsepower. R S Williams punched the engine out to 4.5 liters, which, along with custom camshafts, Cosworth pistons, Corillo rods, three Weber 55 carburetors, helps the powerplant now make 416 horsepower. More than enough to give the bastards in the paddock something to think about.
The rest of the driveline received similar attention with a triple-plate clutch and a quick-change four-speed transmission. A Hewland Powerflow limited slip differential sits in the rear axle, which R S Williams braced for additional durability. There are also beefier wheel bearings to handle the abuse of competition. The company set the car up to adhere to the AMOC rule book, so there are upgraded brakes, but the front rotors are solid, not vented. R S Williams also altered the front suspension geometry to conform to series regulations with upgraded coil springs, shock, and a roll cage. You’ll also find a fuel cell and fire suppression system onboard.
All of that hardware got put to use in 2004 and 2005 when the car competed in the Monterey Historics. It also saw action in the HMSA and CRSG series until 2007, earning its fair share of trophies along the way. But in 2010, the car went up for sale, and the new owner put it on static display, sin of sins. Its days of languishing may be over, however, as the good prince recently changed hands one more time, this time selling at Bonhams for over $300,000.Bonhams Auctions