1956 Aston Martin DBR1 becomes the most expensive British car ever

21 Aug, 2017 1:30pm James Wilson

Aston Martin DBR1 sells for $22.5 million at auction to officially become the most expensive British car ever

An Aston Martin DBR1 has claimed the crown of most expensive British car ever sold at auction with a mind-blowing (and wallet-shattering) sale price of $22.5m (approx £17.5m).

It surpassed the previous record of $21.7m (approx £16.8m) set by the 1956 Le Mans winning Jaguar D-Type, which went under the hammer in 2016.

The 1956 DBR1 was the first in a total run of five to be made under the supervision of Ted Cutting, and while this model never claimed victory at Circuit de la Sarthe (a sibling DBR1 did so in 1959), it did take the chequered flag at the 1959 Nürburgring 1000 in the hands of Sir Stirling Moss. The original DBR1 was then retired from life as a works car, but continued to be raced privately by the Essex Racing Stable in 1961 and 1962.

No longer competing at the pinnacle of motorsport - Ferrari and Ford were gearing for a decade of domination at Le Mans - the original DBR1 was sold to the Honourable John Dawnay, who also served as Aston Martin Owners Club President. During his tenure, the DBR1 enjoyed numerous historic racing successes in the 1980s, however much of the credit was rightfully given to Mike Salmon who sat in the driver’s seat.

And prior to reaching its latest owner (who has remained anonymous), the DBR1 was awarded the ‘Most Elegant Sports Car’ Trophy at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2001.

Even though RM Sotherby’s claim it is the most correct of the five DBR1s built (and the first to be sold in a public auction), the svelte racer’s engine is, in fact, not original. The final works engine was included as part of the auction package to sweeten the deal, but was removed so the new owner could chase the redline without the stress of ruining an expensive piece of motoring history.  

The inline six - typical of Aston Martins from the 1950s - has adopted various guises over its lifetime, before finally settling on a 3.0-litre capacity which produced 264bhp (up from 209bhp). The figures may not seem that impressive, but if you consider this historic racer is not a fitted with safety systems, power steering or traction control, it is clear the DBR1 will keep the driver busy.

The engine currently under the bonnet will give the owner another 33bhp - bumping peak output to 297bhp - which, given the auction price, works out at around £58,000 per horse power.

Though the price tag of the Aston Martin may come across as borderline ridiculous, the owner remains a long way off the all-time most expensive car ever to be sold at auction. That title falls to a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which sold for $38m (£29.5m approx), over one and a half times the value of the Aston Martin DBR1.

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