Le Mans-winning Aston Martin DBR1
Three were the men instrumental to Aston Martin’s victory at Le Mans in 1959 – designer Ted Cutting, driver Carroll Shelby, and driver Roy Salvadori. After securing the rights to the Lagonda dual overhead-camshaft six-cylinder engine in the late 1940s, David Brown set out on a goal of winning Le Mans for Aston Martin, a goal that would be stymied by the DB3S, a capable car introduced in 1953 that managed to fall short of expectations even after a second-place showing at Le Mans. Thus Cutting began to work on designing a new spaceframe chassis in 1956; though it still used the DB3S front and rear suspensions and disc brakes, the resulting DBR1 ended up both stiffer and lighter. Paired with the 254hp 3.0L six-cylinder and a David Brown transverse gearbox, the DBR1 hit the competition circuit in 1957. The following year should have been its year, with more powerful cars outlawed by a regulation change limiting sports prototypes to 3.0 liters of displacement, but no Aston Martin works cars finished the 1958 Le Mans. Unshaken, Brown continued with the DBR1 in 1959, entering three cars in that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Stirling Moss in DBR1/3 set the pace for the first 70 or so laps, prompting the Ferraris to chase and drop out, while Shelby and Salvadori, piloting DBR1/2 (wearing number 5) slipped in for the overall win, followed immediately after by Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frere in DBR1/4. Ferrari 250 GTs blocked off the next four finishing positions, all at least 25 laps behind the DBR1s. Aston Martin would go on to win that year’s World Championship, and DBR1/2 would remain active through the early 1960s. A United Kingdom-based collector reportedly owns it today.