Registration no. 2 VEV
Chassis no. DB4GT/0183/R
*One of the two legendary 'VEV' Zagatos campaigned by works-backed Essex Racing Stable
*Factory-prepared and raced in period 1961-62 as a quasi-works team car
*International period race history including Le Mans and Goodwood TT
*'2 VEV' is the iconic Anglo-Italian Berlinetta twice driven so spectacularly in 1961-1962 by double-Formula 1 World Champion and Indy '500' winning superstar Jim Clark
*Aston Martin's Ferrari 250 GTO
*More power than a Ferrari 250 GTO - 310 bhp at 5,500rpm against 296bhp at 7,500rpm
*Much greater torque than a Ferrari 250 GTO - 285lb/ft at 4,500rpm against 217lb/ft at 5,500rpBuilt upon upon what proved to be the prototype for Aston Martin's forthcoming Project 214 chassis frame.
*Single-family ownership since 1971 - some 47 years
*The most prominent and charismatic of notionally only 19 (actually 20) Aston Martin DB4GT Zagatos
*In greater detail - the most prominent of the creme-de-la-creme batch of only three 'MP209' specification 'Super Lightweight' Zagatos constructed
*A worthy figurehead of any collection and- a golden key to the world's finest premier events
Bonhams is delighted to offer this ultimate, individual Aston Martin Zagato to the car-collecting world, fresh from no fewer than 47 loving years in just one particularly long-term (and adoring) family ownership. This competition coupe – always known by its distinctive UK road-registration number '2 VEV' - is simply the best-known and most charismatic of all Aston Martin DB4GT Zagatos.
But this ultimate Zagato variant, the 1962 'Manage Project 209', was essentially a development prototype – sharing a near-identical new chassis structure to the DP214 works-run 'Project car' design then forthcoming for the Aston Martin factory team's revival in 1963. While there were 19 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato entities manufactured overall, only three of them were to this ultimate 'MP 209' specification – known internally at the Feltham factory as the 'Super Lightweight' or 'GTSL'.
Of all those 19 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato identities manufactured through 1960-62 – the renowned 'British Berlinettas' – '2 VEV' is indeed the most well-known...especially for its contemporary appearances in the hands of one of the greatest – and truly most revered - racing drivers that the motor sporting world has ever seen
As new, '2 VEV' as offered here was driven by legendary double-Formula 1 World Champion Driver – and Indianapolis 500-Miles classic winner - Jim Clark in the RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood and in the Paris 1,000 Kilometres at Montlhery. In Jimmy's supremely talented hands this is the car which starred on that Tourist Trophy stage as both the most spectacular looking – and sounding – car on course. This was in part because the 'MP209' Zagato had not at that stage been fully developed and its handling demanded a driver of Jimmy Clark's stupendous natural talents to extract its ultimate lap-time potential. This he did in spectacular, grandstand-pleasing style...until on lap 60 of the 100-lap, 1962 Goodwood TT, even the brilliantly gifted Scottish superstar's precocious skills were not quite enough to keep '2 VEV' in hand, immediately after having just left the pits on cold tyres.....
So here we offer perhaps the most famous – and certainly the most covetable – of the Aston Martin quasi-works team's competition coupes from the early 1960s. The Aston Martin racing heritage from the 1920s forward was built largely by corinthian-minded sporting gentry with an enduring interest in motor racing, in fine high-performance sports and GT racing cars, and enjoying the disposable wealth to indulge their enthusiasm.
Such a heritage is entirely in keeping with the parallel story of the Goodwood Motor Circuit – very much 'The Best of British' – and we at Bonhams are extremely proud of our founding status with Goodwood Motorsport, and the pioneering Festival of Speed. The circuit itself was the deceptively difficult and demanding stage upon which the great, world-class RAC Tourist Trophy races were run from 1958 to 1964, and it was right here – in the 1959 TT – that the quintessentially-British Aston Martin works team clinched the FIA Sports Car World Championship title.
That was, however, the last year of the official FIA Sports Car World Championship competition. From 1960 the International governing body shifted its endurance racing focus to the closed-cabin world of Grand Touring cars – including this magnificent Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato Coupe, '2 VEV'.
But through 1961-62 the marque's involvement featured no formal works team participation. Instead, Aston Martin's fortunes – and where many enthusiasts were concerned the honour of the British high-performance car industry – was upheld by a quasi-works private team. And that team was enthusiast entrant John Ogier's 'Essex Racing Stable' operation, based originally within a stable block at his home in East Hanningfield, near Chelmsford in Essex.
The background to this was that David Brown's Aston Martin factory had split its works team operation in 1959 to compete in both the sports car and Formula 1 World Championship race series, before – in 1960 it focused entirely upon the single-seater Grand Prix class – without conspicuous success for what had become its long-delayed and therefore outdated front-engined Formula 1 car design.
This shortcoming persuaded David Brown finally to withdraw from full-time works racing team participation for 1961-62. To fill the gap, he and his legendary racing manager John Wyer encouraged marque-enthusiast John Ogier to campaign one ex-works DBR1 sports-racing car, plus the 1960 'Lightweight' DB4GT Coupes' 17 TVX' and '18 TVX'. And in 1961 these twin DB4GTs were supplemented by a pair of brand-new Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato Coupes – enabling Ogier's Essex Racing Stable to field Feltham's latest and finest on the factory's behalf.
And it was right here at Goodwood – in the 1961 and 1962 TT races – that the Essex Racing Stable-entered Aston Martin Zagatos then provided a sensational sight as the spectacular-to-watch, glorious-to-hear, home-industry banner wavers defending British prestige against what was genuinely an invasion fleet of V12-engined Italian Ferrari 250 GTs and later GTOs.
Back in 1940 Goodwood - as the Royal Air Force fighter aerodrome it then was - had been right in the forefront of the Battle of Britain. From its grass runways the contemporary best of British engineering had been the Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft defending the democratic way of life. By 1961-62 in those RAC TT races, the best of British engineering was provided here at Goodwood by John Ogier's quasi-works team Aston Martin Zagatos, spearheaded by the 1962 iteration of '2 VEV' in its ultimate, virtual 'Project car' specification, the 'MP 209'.
The background to Ogier's DB4GT Zagato cars – so distinctively UK road registered as '1 VEV' and '2 VEV' from new in 1961 – was that these factory-prepared Aston Martins were first fielded by Ogier's Essex Racing Stable team in that year's Le Mans 24-Hour race - '1 VEV' to be co-driven by Jack Fairman/Bernard Consten and '2 VEV' by highly-experienced Australian stars Lex Davison and Bib Stilwell. Sadly, both the brand-new cars simply overheated into retirement due to a preparation failure; the engine cylinder heads had not been torqued-down sufficiently after initial running of the freshly-built power units...
But the preceding failure of the twin British entered 'VEV' cars left devastated team owner John Ogier – who had just paid Aston Martin £8,762 for the two Zagatos (at 20 per cent discount) - absolutely furious with the factory. An ex-military man, Ogier was an immensely successful businessman and a perfectionist in all his endeavours – and he could not accept such embarrassing disappointment. Where both his cars had failed within the first 90-minutes at Le Mans, the sister French-entered DB4 GT Zagato of Jean Kerguen/'Franc' had run well for 23 hours before Lucas starter motor failure had ended its chances. Its works mechanic Des O'Dell had ensured he torqued-down the engine's cylinder-head studs after each run – someone had apparently thought that such pernickety attention was unnecessary....
But motor sport marches on, and at Aintree for the 1961 British Grand Prix meeting on July 15, Australian veteran Lex Davison drove '2 VEV' in the important 17-lap supporting GT race – and the combination won in spectacular style – catching and passing Jack Sears' Jaguar E-Type on the very last lap. Ogier's post-Le Mans anger was much mollified by this high-profile victory, second time out for '2 VEV'.
In the major Goodwood TT on August 19, his twin Zagatos were then entrusted to Formula 1 stars Roy Salvadori and Jim Clark – who was then the meteorically fast-developing future Team Lotus star. It was then that the two 'VEV's were cast as the muscle-bound Anglo-Italian underdogs, defending British honour against a horde of 3-litre V12 Ferrari 250GT SWBs.
Critically, the very fast and powerful Zagatos demanded four tyre changes during the 3-Hour race, against the Ferraris' three. While Stirling Moss and Michael Parkes finished 1-2 for Ferrari, Roy Salvadori in '1 VEV' and Jim Clark in '2 VEV' came home 3rd and 4th – bettered, but only narrowly – while Ogier's year-older DB4GT '17 TVX' finished 5th driven by Clark's Team Lotus No 1, Innes Ireland...
Innes then drove '2 VEV' into 3rd place in the MolySlip Trophy race at Snetterton, after being delayed by a minor collision, while Tony Maggs/Sir John Whitmore took ninth place in the car in the 1961 Paris 1,000Kms at Montlhery
Into Spring, 1962, at the factory's request, Ogier then loaned '2 VEV' to the Belgian Equipe National Belge for Lucien Bianchi to drive in the 15-lap, 211km, Spa Grand Prix. The experienced Belgian was fantastically quick in the car during practice, started from pole and led from the start in the face of massed Ferrari opposition but he then crashed heavily at Les Combes corner, somersaulting over a barrier to fall upside-down into a roadside stone quarry. While he assured his pit crew the damage wasn't too bad and that he thought the car "might be driveable" after the race, it was in fact adjudged a write-off. It had been fully insured and was actually replaced entirely in July 1962 by the factory with the brand-new 'MP209' specification 'Super Lightweight' '2 VEV' now offered here by Bonhams.
This replacement car's revised Zagato body shape offered improved aerodynamic performance. Its lightweight chassis was a completely redesigned box-section ladder frame - its suspension featured highly-polished front wishbones, and the engine was a 3.8-litre twin-overhead camshaft straight six-cylinder unit instead of the initial 1960-61 version's 3.7-litre. This engine featured many parts in cast magnesium. Only three such 'MP209' Zagatos would be built by Aston Martin, each one of them no less than an incredible 507lbs lighter than the standard production DB4GT, and 300lbs lighter than the standard Zagato...
Most significantly, '2 VEV's new 'MP209' chassis would prove to be prototype-work for what would emerge as the revived Aston Martin works team's Project 214 Coupe design for 1963. Much of Project 214's DNA can be traced to this trio of 1962 'MP209' super-lightweight Zagatos and consequently, John Ogier's 1962 '2 VEV' – as now offered here - was actually a far more advanced car than its 1961 predecessor.
While Lucien Bianchi's Spa crash had occurred on May 20, 1962, it was as soon as July 15 that '2 VEV' in its fresh form made its racing debut driven for the Essex Racing Stable by South African works Cooper F1 star Tony Maggs in the World Championship-qualifying 300km Trophees d'Auvergne race at Clermont-Ferrand. He lost time through a cracked block causing water loss and overheating but was still able to finish seventh.
Ogier then entered both the old-style '1 VEV' and this very latest MP209 Super Lightweight '2 VEV' in the year's RAC Tourist Trophy race back at Goodwood on August 18, 1962.
Genius driver Jim Clark had just become fully established at the forefront of Grand Prix competition as Team Lotus No 1, and the year that far had seen him win both his first-ever World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix – the Belgian at Spa – and his second – the British Grand Prix, at Aintree. Now he was to handle '2 VEV' in a second consecutive RAC Tourist Trophy back at Goodwood. To this day, his spectacular progress in this magnificent British Berlinetta remains the much-photographed stuff of motor racing legend...
After power-sliding broadside first from the startline echelon in the run-and-jump style getaway - by the 60th lap Jim Clark was running 6th overall, delayed by tyre-change stops for '2 VEV' which was eating its Dunlop rubber as its star driver drifted it spectacularly around the Sussex circuit. But, fresh from a tyre-change pit stop, Jimmy pitched the car into Madgwick Corner one more time, intent upon keep it upon the tight inside line as he had just glimpsed race leader John Surtees's plum-red Ferrari 250 GTO storming up behind.
However, even Jimmy's great skills could not then prevent '2 VEV' flicking broadside over the pronounced tight-line ridge at Madgwick Corner, and in an instant this Aston Martin had spun across Surtees's path, the cars colliding and both flurrying off into the left-side safety bank. Neither driver was hurt, and the Ferrari was worse damaged than '2 VEV' – but there both cars lay for fully 30 more laps until driver Robin Benson lost control of Chris Kerrison's passing Ferrari 250 GT SWB and it promptly spun off to crash into the long-abandoned cars, inflicting further damage, particularly upon the Ferrari which bore the brunt of the initial impact – while '2 VEV' escaped quite lightly.
In fact the Aston Martin was quickly repaired, and on October 21, 1962, in the Paris 1,000Kms at Montlhery, Clark ran fifth in '2 VEV' – featuring deafeningly amongst the leading group before a spin, which lost him six places. He then soared back into second position before handing over to co-driver John Whitmore only for the engine to hole a piston after two more brief laps.
Aston Martin then revived its in-house works team for 1963 with the further developed Project 214 and 215 Coupes – incorporating useful lessons learned with the rare trio of three MP209 Super Lightweight Zagatos as described here.
John Ogier eventually sold '2 VEV' in 1964 - its new owner Alexander Roch entering it for another Paris 1,000Kms race that year in which it was co-driven by Andrew Hedges/John Turner. Mr Roch recalls Andrew Hedges bringing the car into the pits at one point to complain of a smell of burning. Inspection found that the wider than normal outside rear tyre had been rubbing on the aluminium bodywork when loaded-up on Montlhery's high banking, and extra clearance had to be "arranged" with the help of a hammer enabling him to continue. Gearbox failure finally sidelined the car.
It was subsequently sold to Hartley Whyte (of the Whyte & Mackay Whisky) family whose tenure lasted from 1965 to 1969 – when it was acquired by the enthusiastic historic racing owner/driver Nick Cussons.
He owned '2 VEV' for a little over two years, and campaigned the car regularly in UK club events. He fitted it with 15-inch diameter wheels instead of the original 16-inch in order to use wider tyres. The car proved very reliable, and Cussons achieved a number of wins at Silverstone, Oulton Park, in the AMOC's Wiscombe hill climb and at the 1970 750 MC's Six-Hour Relay Race. In June 1971 he returned '0183/R' to Aston Martin where much work was undertaken, including an engine rebuild before selling the car to prominent Club racer Roger St John Hart.
He was also another Aston Martin enthusiast and keen competitor and '2 VEV' was again extensively raced. In 1973 St John Hart also purchased another Zagato '0200/R' with engine serial '370/1288/01'.
Mr St John Hart sold '0200/R' in 1978 but retained the engine in order to install it in '0183/R' – '2 VEV'. The work was undertaken by renowned Aston Martin specialist Richard Williams. It seems that at some time in the late 1970s, engine '370/1288/01' suffered a major failure. He subsequently acquired the block from DB4GT '0122' from fellow Aston Martin racer John Goate in circa 1978 and that engine remains in the car to this day.
Roger St John Hart continued to use the car in club events until 1985, when he retired it from the racetrack, perhaps mindful of the car's now rising value. St John Hart passed away in 1989 and his widow Toni allowed '2 VEV' to return to the track in 1991, driven by its old keeper, Nick Cussons. In 1992, '2 VEV' actively competed in the FIA Historic Championship and - having contested all but one round - actually won the Championship title. The car was then kept in the Isle of Man and in 1993, whilst being driven by Cussons, was involved in a road accident.
The damage was focused upon the left-front corner and left-side bodywork but the opportunity was taken to have the Aston Martin factory specialists at Newport Pagnell not just repair '2 VEV' but actually to restore it with painstaking care and accuracy to its present – now long-maintained - concours condition.
Since the rebuild the car has not returned to the track but has become a concours regular, including winning the Volz Trophy at the AMOC's summer concours in 1996 and being invited to the Pebble Beach concours in 1997, where it won the most significant British car of the show award.
The car is accompanied by four massive – and beautifully bound – documentation folders, including specific contemporary coverage of '2 VEV's first 30 years, lavishly illustrated by original photographic prints, full details – with invoices and receipts for service work carried out – including the mid-1990s post-accident restoration process – and myriad copies of magazine and specialist publication feature stories and articles published over the years featuring this ex-Jim Clark Aston Martin's intriguing story. Indeed, we have very seldom been able to offer such an important competition car with anything like as much documentary support being provided by the vendor.
Perhaps most significantly, one folder includes a copy of the Aston Martin Owners' Club membership renewal by John Ogier, for 1964-65. Covering ownership of car 'DB4GT Zagato' – year '1962' – registration number '2 VEV' – and chassis number '0183/R' – he has written "Check for record. This replaced (underlined) the car written off by Bianchi at Spa in 1962 and is similar specification to the 2 'works prototypes'..." – absolutely confirming his knowledge of its very special 'MP 209' specification.
It is – in effect – the third of the three 1962 Aston Martin 'Project car prototypes' which preceded the works team's definitive Project cars of 1963. Add the Jim Clark history – plus Aston Martin's marque prestige, and '2 VEV' is plainly a massively charismatic competition Coupe indeed.
So here we offer an incredibly rare and important motor car that would provide any great collection with a truly enviable figurehead. This is one of only three very special MP209 'Super Lightweight' examples manufactured during this golden era by Britain's most significant GT car manufacturer – and the only quasi-works MP209. We rarely use the investment word, but '2 VEV' has not only been an integral and much loved family member for the past 47 years, but a fine investment too.
We commend this magnificent 'British Berlinetta' – home defender of the flag – to the market.
JOHN OGIER - PRIVATEER, PATRIOT
John Lionel Eardley Ogier was Aston Martin's original customer for the 'VEV' brace of DB4GT Zagato cars. He was a pioneering businessman who was one of the immediate-postwar poultry farmers who saw the commercial potential of American-style broiler-chicken production, contributing to what became famous as the Buxted Chicken brand. With modern sensibilities that perhaps does not sit well with many people today, but in the 1950s providing affordable food to the nation was a primary concern.
John Ogier was an ex-military man, a tank section commander who had won the Military Cross for gallantry during the hotly-resisted Allied advance up the Adriatic coast of Italy. He rescued his own commander under fire and persisted in action despite being wounded. Upon recovery he was appointed Aide de Camp to Winston Churchill, no less, and upon his return to civilian life he became a captain of commerce.
His contemporary friends recall him as having been a fascinating man, fiercely intelligent, energetic, loyal, and generous. He was fiercely patriotic in a period when British industry was suffering a real crisis of confidence and one spin-off from his natural patriotism and support for British industry was his enthusiastic backing for Aston Martin.
He had been born in India, but was educated at St Edward's School, Oxford before becoming apprenticed to the Austin Motor Company, where he worked exclusively in the competitions department. He joined the Army when it became obvious war was imminent and he became a Dunkirk evacuee in 1940. He was then posted to The Queen's Own Hussars, of which Winston Churchill was Honorary Colonel, and he served with great distinction in North Africa, fighting at El Alamein, before the Italian campaign. In addition to his MC he would be further mentioned in despatches.
There were evident compensations. During leave at the Cairo Sailing Club he met his future wife, a South African MI6 recruit named Wymond Paull. He was later so successful as Churchill's AdC that the Old Man wanted him to manage his Chartwell Estate - for £250 per annum. John Ogier, however, had higher ambitions...
In early 1946 borrowed £15,000 from his father and a friend to start his Essex-based chicken farming venture. It proved so successful the loans were paid off within two years.
He began club racing with a Jaguar XK120 bought in 1952. Snetterton in Norfolk became his home circuit. He met and admired John Tojeiro and became both a customer and a marque sponsor in the mid-to-late 1950s.
As a driver he was perhaps more bold than truly talented. In October 1957 he lost control of his Tojeiro-Jaguar at the Stapleford hill-climb in Essex, trackside straw bales becoming a launching ramp from which the 'Toj' somersaulted, high in the air, throwing out Ogier and inflicting serious injuries, including a badly broken leg.
He would not compete again as a driver, but his expanding business activities enabled him to acquire a pair of Formula 2 Coopers for 1958, when he entered them under the Essex Racing Stable team title for the young Sir John Whitmore and South African newcomer Tony Maggs. The cars were prepared in the stables of the family home at East Hanningfield, Essex, John and Wymond Ogier raising their four children there.
But in late 1959 David Brown announced he was withdrawing Aston Martin from full-time works racing activity, having just secured the FIA Sports Car World Championship title. John Ogier was dismayed, believing it was essential for Great Britain to have top team involvement in world-class endurance racing. He approached David Brown and John Wyer at Aston Martin, and for 1960-61 his Essex Racing Stable bought two DB4GTs '17 TVX' and '18 TVX') and subsequently Zagatos '1 VEV' and '2 VEV'.
When David Brown decided to revive his Aston Martin works team for 1963, the need for John Ogier's quasi-works operation evaporated. By that time he was living in Kent, and his other interests extended to car styling, backing British designer David Ogle and becoming Chairman of Ogle Design Ltd. The company produced the Ogle 1000 de luxe Mini, followed by the Reliant Scimitar GTE, both being very well received.
During this time, Ogier also headed the 'Movement for True Industrial Democracy', fostering worker participation and profit-sharing in industry while encouraging trades unions to commit to moderation in return.
But tragically, on 15 August 1977, John Ogier - aged 57 – lost his life whilst driving home in his Reliant Scimitar from the Hickstead Equestrian Three-Day Event. His 'Daily Telegraph' obituary reported "...he is mourned not only by his large and devoted family but by his many friends and admirers drawn from a lifetime of varied interests and enthusiasms... John Ogier was not only unfailingly generous with the gift of his own friendship but was uniquely able to use his personality to forge friendship amongst others". Here was a popular perfectionist, with a brimful life forever associated with the great Aston Martin marque.
STEPHEN ARCHER – AN APPRECIATION OF THE MP209 ZAGATO
In the process of researching a book there is usually a golden nugget to be found. During research for the Palawan Zagato book 22 years ago, the emergence of the full 'MP209' Project Zagato story was that exciting nugget. Until then, no one had stopped to really look at the three cars to consider just how special they are under the skin. Certainly the difference in these cars from standard is profound.
"No two Zagatos are the same" goes the refrain but this is only true up to a point. Most of the cars have 'had a life' and had some restoration at various stages leading to individuality increasing with the passing of time. In truth, there are really only three 'standard' designs of DB4GT Zagato. The most obviously distinctive types are the MP209 cars but just how and why are they so distinctive?
In 1961 it was clear to Aston Martin that to take on Ferrari some weight would need to be removed from the standard Zagato. The design team under Ted Cutting set to work on creating a new chassis that ditched the platform design of the DB4GT and instead took its strength from box sections. The engine bay was devoid of any steel panel work and light aluminium paneling featured throughout the car where gaps needed filling such as the bulkheads and floor. Quick lift jacking points were standard.
The rear suspension had polished components and telescopic dampers from the outset. The front was also made of race prepared components and had an adjustable roll centre in a way that the DB4GT never could. This was a very track focused chassis and was super light. The thinking for racing bodies back in 1962 was that tails should be high to minimize lift and noses long and low to maximize smooth air penetration. Zagato were given the task of making these changes to the standard design. The car featured a longer nose; smaller and lower headlight apertures; a wider and lower front grill with the sidelights mounted inside the grill. They also had prominent, large air scoops to feed the oil cooler and front brake ducts. The rear window was many degrees shallower in angle and the tail was higher and a little longer. Door windows were no longer lifting but were Perspex sliding. The interior was purposeful competition style with some Hardura trim but not much else. The original gearboxes had magnesium casings and they even tried a magnesium block but in the end settled for magnesium castings on the engine, which was enlarged to 3.8-litres. The exact same engine as in DP214.
To underline the intent of Aston Martin the three cars were supplied to decent teams. John Coombs in England, Jean Kerguen in France and John Ogier. The MP209 that went to Ogier was almost certainly destined for his hands from early in 1962 but it took the crash of the first 2 VEV for the transaction to be consummated.
It is hard to overstate how special, exciting and beautiful these three MP209 cars are. A combination of the exotic charm of Zagato's design with the pure racing intent from Aston Martin for these cars bestows upon them a unique status. Having driven 2 VEV and numerous Zagatos and GTs; this car stands out as noticeably light, sharp and of quick response. It feels more akin to DP214 than a standard Zagato. It has that poise and single-minded purpose with minimal compromise. It's a car that encourages the driver to push on a bit because it is designed for pace and distance.
It was designed and built to perform a task and its capability says a lot of the skill of the Aston Martin engineers.