In 1963, John Wyer ordered the DP215 – with just a lead time of two months to Le Mans, and a budget of just £1,500. Unfazed, Chief Engineer Ted Cutting took to the project and demonstrated his incredible automotive genius, producing the DP215 that set the standard of Aston Martin’s engineering capabilities. The project continued raking in great names, with an engine by Tadek Marek, and a debut drive by Phil Hill at the Le Mans race.
Now, the exact racer, close to mint condition, is heading to auction at Monterey 2018.
The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 is the last and best of its kind
Cutting committed himself to improving balance and aerodynamics with the DP215 to combat rear lift at high speeds, a longstanding issue he managed to observe from years of wind-tunnel testing. Although similar to the two preceding DP214s on the outside, the DP215 is a whole other ball game on the inside. Originally developed to accommodate Tadek Marek’s then-unreleased V8 engine, the DP215 was fitted with a four-litre version of the DP212 six-cylinder twin plug engine for the 1963 race season – although 400/215/1 was equipped with a dry sump oil system. For the engine to fit a full 10-inches further back as compared to the DP212, modifications to the steel box-frame chassis and installation of an independent rear suspension was required.
It was at the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans that the DP215 became the first car to ever record beyond 300 km/h along the Mulsanne Straight portion of the track, putting it in the league of Ferrari rear-engined prototypes. Even though it failed to finish the 1963 tour due to high torque of the four-litre engine, the car remains legendary in the heritage of Aston Martin, and was to be the last racing car built by the automotive company.
There is no wonder the pristine DP215 is headed to auction for at least twenty million dollars. With its original engine intact and same type five speed gearbox, the car has only clocked in some 300 miles since 1992. Auction house RM Sotheby’s states that the DP215 will still generate the 330 HP that it promised during its advent more than 50 years ago. Restored multiple times over the years, it was not until during Nigel Dawes’ possession that restoration work was done with Ted Cutting himself as a consultant. The current owner completed some of the final restoration touches on the DP215 with a custom correct-type S532 transmission using Cutting’s original plans. Yet, the heart of the vessel was missing, until the owner himself restored the original engine, the 400/215/1, making the current prototype the most complete and authentic DP215 to exist today.
The DP215 marked the end of Aston Martin’s efforts in racing. But reunited with its original engine, the handsome steed is geared towards a fresh start.
The 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype is set to auction at Monterey 2018 in August. For more information, visit RM Sotheby’s.