The Aston Martin DP series of cars
Part 2. After the dust had settled
Aston Martin had been applying the DPxxx designation to many of it’s factory team cars as far back as at least the DB3 and DB3S. It does not seem to have followed any immediately discernible progression and DP212, 214 and 215 seem to have been the only cars where this nomenclature has become the identifying moniker?? Probably therein lies another fascinating story??
Created specifically for Le Mans to conform to an FIA rule change, the 1962 and 1963 outings were covered somewhat in Part 1. Since there were only four original cars, much of the post factory history is reasonably well known. Somewhat misty at times and possibly of interest to only a very, very few, these Aston’s hold a special place in the companies heritage so… down the rabbit hole! Hopefully my condensing of their history has it mostly correct??
Aston Martin’s Withdrawal from Racing
There had been talk of fitting a Tadek Marek V8 engine into DP215, but at the end of 1963 Wyer was asked by Ford to head up the GT40 project. After a 13-year slog with Aston, latterly as general manager and no fan of lengthy meetings with Trades Union leaders, he jumped at the chance. Aston Martin ultimately quit sports car racing at the end of 1963.It would be over 25 years before Aston produced another works racing car.
As with many Aston racers, the Project Cars tried to make up in ambition what they lacked in budget, development and luck. But they never realized their full potential and exist today more as tantalizing glimpses of what might have been rather than the Ferrari-slayers they at times so nearly were.
Three of the four Project Cars exist today. DP212 went on to have a second life in historic racing. DP214/0194 that won in Italy and was driven by Ireland at the TT and Schlesser at Le Mans raced successfully for many tears until it was involved in an accident at the 2012 Goodwood Revival. Extensive damage occurred when the car hit a tire wall at speed. It is in a private UK collection, it’s owner having retired it, unwilling to compromise its originality to make it competitive.
RM Sotheby’s sold DP215 in 2018 for over $21 million.
Post Factory Racing
In 1964, DP212 (along with both DP214s) were sold (a fate that befell many old race cars of the era after they had outlived their factory usefulness) to John Dawnay who became Viscount Downe on the death of his father in December 1965. Prior to the sale, DP212 had been rebuilt by Aston Martin with a 4.2-litre 349bhp engine and road registered AYN 212B.
DP212 was then entered in a few local speed and sprint events, driven by John Dawnay and Mike Salmon.
During the 1970s
Aston Martin DP212 had many successful races during the 1970s in the hands of Mike Salmon. In 1973 the project car returned to motor racing and won twice at Silverstone and once at castle Combe, all with Salmon at the wheel. Salmon also won the Classic Car Championship in 1974, with five class wins, one overall win and two second places.
In 1975 Mike Ottway acquired the car, however Mike Salmon still continued to race the car. From 1975 to 1979 the car won many races, most significantly at Silverstone, with one first place overall (1975), two first in class results (1977/78) and a third in class (1976). The car also won many times at Brands Hatch, with a first and second overall in 1977 and 1976 respectively and two first places (1977/78). The car also recorded a 2nd place in the Group 4 historic Race at the Houbigant meeting at Brands Hatch on 15 May 1977. There Salmon and DP212 demonstrated a wet-weather sure-footedness not matched by the later Ford GT40’s and Chevron B8s (amongst others) it was up against, being beaten only by a Lola T70. The last significant result of the car in the late 1970s was a second place in class at Goodwood in 1978.
During the 1980s
In 1981 Mike Salmon won first in class at Brands Hatch, a fifth place at Silverstone and a significant win, against an all Aston Martin field in Dubai again in 1981.
During the 1990s
It is believed the registration (which it still holds today) of ‘212 DP’ was acquired in the early 1990s. In 1995 DP212 appeared as a static exhibit at the Silverstone Coys meeting, with the car returning to the meeting in 1999 in the Pre ’64 GT race. There the car, driven by Mike Salmon and Gary Pearson, was in second place in ‘Part 1’ of the event. But during the first lap of ‘Part 2’, after taking the lead the car retired with Pearson at the wheel.
In 1997 Lord Downe entered DP212 in a concours event at Pebble Beach in California.
In 1998 the car took part in the first R.A.C. TT Revival race at Goodwood, however it retired when in 2nd place. The car came back to the Goodwood TT Revival in 1999, with the car put on pole by Martin Brundle in a time of 1.27.635 (not bettered until
2006 after track had been resurfaced) but then crashed in practice by Pearson and therefore did not start (DNS). That crash heavily damaging the front end.
During the 2000s
In 2000 the car went under a major rebuild due to the crash at Goodwood in 1999, and Nicolaus Springer acquired the car. During the restoration, the car was stripped and thoroughly checked. However, there was no chassis damage, but DP212 needed major panel work repair. The restoration of the body shell was difficult as the car was not symmetrical (many early Aston’s aren’t) having been hand built and already showing signs of previous, body damage. It was also noted that the shell was becoming very brittle, being made of thin alloy and being over 40 years old. To add to that, the rear offside wing had been made from a different material, so may have already had some restoration completed on the shell. The restorers retained as much of the original bodywork as possible, reworking it if necessary. They worked from large blown up photographs to set about creating the old shape, complete with the original inaccuracies, asymmetrical dimensions and distortions.
After the rebuild was completed the car has been raced many more times at the Goodwood TT Revival races. In 2000 DP212 finished in fifth place with drivers Tony Dron and Tiff Needell, averaging 93.24 mph (150.06 km/h), which was only 1.52 mph (2.45 km/h) behind a Cobra Daytona. The car competed again in the 1 hour TT event in 2001.
In 2002 its present owner Wolfgang Friedrichs bought the car. He continued the Goodwood Revival trend, competing in the R.A.C. TT event in 2002, finishing 12th, with drivers Friedrichs and David Clark. Friedrichs and Clark again competed in the same event in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Finishing with one DNF (2004) and two 10th-place results in 2005 and 2006.
Friedrichs and Clark returned to the Goodwood Revival Tourist Trophy (TT) in September 2009, finishing 9th overall, completing 39 laps within the hour of racing. DP212 recorded an average speed of 91.39 mph (147.08 km/h), with their fastest lap being 1m 31.083s on lap 18.
In 2013 the car, driven by Friedrichs and Simon Hadfield, finally finished 1st in the Revival TT race. Going at a blistering pace through the pack in the second, rain-soaked part of the race.
Although, being extremely valuable, the car has been the most actively campaigned of the original surviving ‘project cars’ in recent years.
It has since continued to be raced with considerable success with a victory at The Goodwood Revival Tourist Trophy in 2013.
DP214’s: 214/0194/R & 214/0195/R
Following the 1963 season, both DP214s were sold to John Dawnay’s racing team for use throughout the international circuit. With 0195 later being sold to Brian Hetreed in 1964. Both DP214’s then went to Daytona. Both had been up to 5th place during the race. But 0194 retired with valve failure and 0195 slipped back to 17th when the gearbox started to seize (another not uncommon problem with David Brown’s gearboxes).
At the International Trophy at Silverstone, 0194 broke the GT record in practice but spun in the wet on the first lap eventually finishing second place overall. DP214 0195 appeared at the Wiscombe hill climb and set a best time.
Both cars then went to Spa but had engine troubles and neither finished.
Unfortunately, one of the DP214s (0195/R) was destroyed in an accident during practice at the Nurburgring crashing on the first practice lap and the car was mainly destroyed. The remains of 0195 were returned to London from Germany and were comprehensively cut up and destroyed. With the engine being repaired and going into an Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, with chassis number DB4GT/0200/R.
The other lone DP214 (0194/R) finished the season, moving onto Le Mans again. At the end of the first lap DP214 was running in tenth place, dropping to eleventh after half an hour. Early evening pit stops had moved the car up to sixth overall, but again dropped, down to twelfth place. However, after 17h 45m on Sunday morning they were disqualified due to replenishing the car’s oil at the wrong time when lying 11th.
In the closing event of 1964, 0194 finished as the first GT car and fifth overall, in the Silverstone Martini meeting, with fastest lap of 1m 42.8s and 4th in class in the Guards Trophy despite a spin at Clearways.
Rest of the 1960s
In 1965 Tom Rose bought the sole remaining DP214 (214/0194/R). He painted the car, a very dark blue, possibly black in colour. Rose registered the car with the registration number ‘5 NBP’ (which it still holds today) and then competed the car in Aston Martin events during the next year. Results including a win at Wiscombe Park and at the Belgian Day of Records Speed Trial Rose set a best time, with a top speed of 163.5 mph (263.1 km/h). Finally driven by Pye, the car competed at the B.A.R.C. Goodwood event, where Pye set a best time.
Colin Crabbe then acquired the car in 1965, with the car now showing flared wheel arches to accommodate wider wheels. In 1966 Crabbe raced 0195R car at the B.A.R.C. event at Oulton Park and was victorious overall. Crabbe was then second overall in the Monte Cristo Trophy at the AMOC St John Horsfall meeting at Silverstone, second only to Ron Fry’s Ferrari 275 LM. Neil Corner also drove DP214 in 1966 and won overall at the Bentley Drivers’ Club (B.D.C.).
In 1967 at the Belgian day of Records, Crabbe won again, this time finishing first in class. The final event under Crabbe’s ownership was with Neil ‘ at AMOC’s Silverstone event.
During the period of 1974/5 to 1992 0194/R underwent a full restoration by Mike Ottway. Presumably this was when the car was returned to its original colour, which it still has today.
Simon Draper then acquired the car in 1993 for something in excess of £1,000,000.
He may still own the car.
During the 1990s
The car reappeared after its long restoration in 1992 and raced again with Draper at Silverstone in 1994 in the Coy’s Historic Festival. DP214/0194/R then raced at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1995, driven by Ian Mason. The car competed again at the Silverstone Coy’s meeting in 1995 and 1996 with Draper and Gary Pearson finishing second overall in 1995 (after being on pole in part one of the GT Race). With Draper and Mark Hales again finishing second in 1996 in the GT race.
In 1997, Simon Draper entered DP214 into the Concours at Pebble Beach.
In 1998 and 1999 Draper joined by David Clark entered the Coy’s Historic Festival at Silverstone again, finishing 13th (1998) and 9th (1999) in the pre ’64 GT Race.
Again in 1998 and 1999 Draper and Clark competed the DP214 in the Goodwood Revival Meeting R.A.C. Tourist Trophy Celebration Race. In 1998 they finished a very respectable fourth overall and finished 6th overall in 1999. Also at Goodwood in 1999, DP214 competed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed event, and Gillian Goldsmith finished first in class.
The car was involved in an accident at the 2012 Goodwood Revival. Extensive damage occurred when the car hit a tyre wall at speed.
Another true GT prototype and therefore successor to DP212, it incorporated the lessons learned from that earlier car. It was also intended to carry the Tadek Marek designed V8, 5 litre V8 which later appeared in the Lola Aston T70 MkIII, and in much modified/refined form in the later road cars. Never fitted with V8, it made do with a dry sump 4-litre version of the well proven 6 cylinder, with twin plug head. More contentiously, it was also fitted with weakest link from the older and lower powered DBR1/300, its CG537 5 speed transaxle; clearly a big mistake and one admitted by John Wyer! Visually, and dimensionally, the body was as for the 214s but with a flatter bonnet line enabled by the dry sump engine. Fitted with engine no. 400/215/1
1963 – After it retired in the early part of the third hour at LeMans from transaxle failure it was entered in the Rheims Cup where it retired from the lead after 4 laps when a missed gear led to over revving and bent valves. It was then rebuilt with more conventional transmission which allowed the fitting of the S532 5-speed box from DP212.
1966 – Very severely damaged in a road accident on the M1 (when it carried the reg. no ENP246B).
19?? – Rebuilt using a spare (214?) body from the factory and a DB6 engine, as the original engine had by then been fitted to DP214 (DB4GT/0194/R). The S532 box had gone missing (back to 212?) and it is thought that at this time a ZF box, similar to those fitted to the V8 road cars was used to keep the car running.
1982 – Acquired by Nigel Dawes who fitted engine no. 1293/420/2 (4.2 litre) taken from the Indianapolis Cooper Aston.
1991 – Long restoration completed and the car appeared at a number of public events, but not raced. Possibly then that the car acquired the reg. no. XMO 88?
1995 – Goodwood Festival of Speed
1996 – Acquired by A.J. Smith and again appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed,
1998 – Goodwood Festival of Speed
Silverstone – Coys – Crashed in practice
2000 – Goodwood TT Revival – 15th
2002? – Acquired by Neil Corner, who then went to the great expense of having a brand new S532 gearbox built from scratch using the box from 212 as the basis!
2006 – Appeared at the Goodwood Revival as part of the tribute to Phil Hill
There are three known replica DP214’s, supposedly based on DB4 and DB4GT chassis’.
The first, initially claiming to be built up from some parts of the crashed 214/0195/R, was commissioned by American Ken Lawrence with a body built by Shapecraft, using the surviving DP214 as a template. Lawrence said he had found a cross-member showing the correct chassis number, in Germany, in late 1979. He also claimed he had found an engine of 0195 which had raced at Le Mans, but this engine was scrapped due to a large 3″ inch hole in the block. The car had been built up with contemporary Aston Martin parts, with a DB4GT engine (notably stamped 370/0195/GT), and gearbox. The body, which was crafted by Shapecraft, bears a fairly close resemblance to the original, but the similarities end there; there is no evidence that this car contains any significant authentic components. Interestingly, after the rebuild #0195 was destined to be sold in the Coys Auction, Silverstone in 1995. After inspection by Aston Martin experts, the car was declared ‘a replica’ made up of a DB4GT engine and gearbox, contemporary Aston Martin parts and a body showing a fairly close resemblance to the original. Thus the car could not be considered an Aston Martin DP214 and Coys withdrew it from the sale.
Therefore, this car is aptly deemed a modern recreation, which aesthetically shares a large resemblance to the original DP214.
This replica is currently owned by Wolfgang Friedrichs (who also owns DP212) and which has had a good record in the Spa 6 hour races, of two overall second places (2004 & 2006) and an overall victory in 2005.
The second car is much more recently built by Martin Brewer of Runnymede Motor Company, but the build was apparently started (according to the AMOC) alongside the aforementioned replica. It was built up using DB4/559/L as the basis. Completed in 2005, it was given the registration number ‘DSL 449’, but has since been re-registered as ‘5 BVY’ in order that it might closely resemble the surviving, original car: ‘5 NBP’.
This car has appeared at the Le Mans Legends race on 16 June 2007.
The third replica DP214 was commissioned by Robert Rawe and was completed in late 2013. This car competed in the Spa 6 hour’s event in the same year.
There are probably others, but this post has gone on for too long and taken much too long to finish!!
Should one wish to build a scratch car there are several models, some with truly horrible looking box art! Lindberg produced many iterations from 1966 to 1990 so there should be lots of 1:32 scale models out there to use as a scratch donor. Initially produced in the Trans Am series it had many re-pops and iterations, none ever called DP214 but it obviously was at least derived from that car. The ‘Sparkle Speeder’, the ‘Super Mini Lindy’, the ‘Deluxe Mini Lindy Motorized’, and the ‘Neon Dudes Snap Fit Aston Martin’ to name a few.
The actual colour of these cars seems to be a bit of a conundrum. Some lore says it was an Aston racing green with a bit of sandy metallic added?? Contemporary wisdom says the cars were painted in what is called ‘California Sage”. To my eye that is a bit too sage and not enough green. A company called zero paints makes a colour called sage green for the Aston
DP214 that might be close. Whatever colour you choose it will look great!