Astons Number One in racing - DBR1

This year is the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the DBR1. Just 5 cars built over a 4 year period, one of the rarest british race cars of all time, from my point of view a stunning car, that will get the deserved attention in this months major entry.

The Aston Martin DBR 1 was intended for the World Sportscar Championship as well as non-championship sportscar races at the time. It is most famous as the victor of the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans, Aston Martin's only outright victory at the endurance classic. It is one of only three cars in the 1950s to win both the World Sports Car Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours in the same year (the others being the Ferrari 375 Plus in 1954 and the Ferrari 250TR in 1958).

In addition the six World Sports Car Championship victories was a record for any car in the 1950s and remained a record in the championship until surpassed by the Ferrari 250TR. The three consecutive triumphs in 1959 at the Nürburgring, Le Mans and the Tourist Trophy equalled the record set by the Ferrari 250TR with its three consecutive victories at the start of the 1958 season.

I found online a well researched entry in a car forum, that was fairly unnoticed. No pictures, maybe some of the few readers didn't even know that those cars existed. Without claiming any credits for the work done by John Turner (pls see: I reposted it with photographs and some minor additional information added.

1957 Aston Martin DBR1/1 in 1957 outside the Hotel de France
1957 Aston Martin DBR1/1 in 1957 outside the Hotel de France

1956 construction – Initially described as a DBR1/250 since it was fitted with a 2493 cc engine (engine no. RDP/5053/1) for Le Mans that year. This was to comply with the hastily introduced 2.5 litre limit for prototypes, following the previous year’s tragedy. In the race it was driven by Brooks/Parnell and failed during the 21st hour (reports vary regarding the exact time).
1957 - 2.5 litre engine retained for early part of season and with which it scored two second places (both Salvadori) before being fitted with the larger RB6/300 (2922cc) engine to become the definitive DBR1/300. Salvadori then placed it 2nd at the Spa sports car race, 6th (with Leston) at the Nurburgring 1000kms, retired from Le Mans (again with Leston), 2nd at Aintree, and 4th at the Belgian GP, Spa.
1958 - Car retired from both Sebring and Nurburgring (Salvadori/Shelby on both occasions), crashed at Le Mans (Salvadori/Lewis Evans), and finally managed to finish a race that year, when it came 2nd at the Tourist Trophy, Goodwood (Salvadori/Brabham).
1959 – Car again retired at Sebring (Salvadori/Shelby) but won at the Nurburgring 1000kms (Moss/Fairman). Thereafter retained by the works until sold in 1961 to John Ogier for the Essex Racing Team:-
1961 - Car retired from Nurburgring 1000kms (Clark/McLaren)
1962 - a fine 4th at Nurburgring 1000kms (Mclaren/Maggs) and then put up for sale, and purchased by The Hon.John Dawnay (who later became Viscount Downe).
1965 – crashed at Silverstone. It’s rebuild appears to have been drawn out!
1980 – Rebuild was completed and the car was then driven in a number of historic races by Mike Salmon over the following couple of seasons.
The car stayed in Viscount Downe’s ownership until at least 1997, and possibly until his death in 2002. Current ownership is not clear.

Fitted with engine no. RB6/300/3. The car once carried the reg. no VN4 (see picture above) but currently(?) carries the registration 299 EXV

1957 construction – 1st at Spa Sports Car Race (Brooks), it repeated this performance when it won at Nurburgring 1000kms (Brooks/Cunningham-Reid). It crashed at Le Mans whilst lying 2nd (Brooks/Cunningham-Reid). It then finished 1st at the Belgian GP at Spa (Brooks).
1958 – Retired at Sebring (Moss/Brooks), was forced off the road at Nurburgring (Brooks/Lewis-Evans), retired at Le Mans (Brooks/Trintignant) but then came 1st in the TT at Goodwood (Moss/Brooks)
1959 – 1st at Le Mans (Salvadori/Shelby) and then 1st again in the TT at Goodwood (Moss/Shelby/Fairman)

1960 – Sold to Major Ian Baillie who drove it (with Greenall) at the Nurburgring; it finished but unclassified, apparently! Finished 9th at Le Mans (Baillie/Fairman)
1961-1962 – Remained with, and raced by, Baillie
1963 – Acquired by David Ham and raced by him for the 3 seasons
1966 - Acquired by Chris Stewart and raced by him for several years, although Neil Corner also campaigned it and appears to have purchased a joint ownership, or possibly outright purchase at some stage.

1971 – Last recorded outing by Corner but Stewart continues to race it until ?


1977? – Purchased by Geoffrey Marsh
1980 (?) – Goes to the Setton private collection France. Returns to UK in ?
1992 – Acquired by Tim Samway and rebuilt by him, the car has occasionally been driven by Tony Dron but much more often by Peter Hardman with whom the car has become closely (and spectacularly!) associated, especially at the Goodwood Revival when with it, he won the Lavant Cup in 1999 and 2000. Car, Believed the car is still remaining in Tim Samway’s ownership.

Fitted with engine no. RB6/300/6. Carries registration no. XSK 497

1958 construction – Retired from the Targa Florio, after setting fastest lap (Moss), then won at Nurburgring 1000Kms (Moss/Braham). The car retired from Le Mans when leading with a rod through the side (Moss) and then finished 3rd at the TT, Goodwood (Shelby/Lewis-Evans)
1959 – Retired at Le Mans (fitted with 4-bearing crank for more power/revs) after 3 hours, having led and effectively broken most of the Ferrari opposition (Moss/Fairman). It caught fire in the pits at the TT, Goodwood, having led, and could not continue! (Moss/Salvadori). Then rebuilt to Appendix C specification, painted blue, registered FSH 360 and sold to Border Reivers
1960 – Retired from Nurburgring 1000kms when lying 4th (Clark/Salvadori) but then finished 3rd at Le Mans (Clark Salvadori). Then completely rebuilt, back at the Aston works but still in Appendix ‘C’ configuration.
1961 – Retired from Le Mans when lying 6th (Clark/Flockhart)

1963 – Acquired by C. Sgonina who sprinted it for several years but also allowed J Davies to race it and the pictures below show it at the wet St John Horsfall meeting in 1967 when Davies won the Holland Trophy race with it. Note that it is still in appendix ‘C’ form.

1968 (?) – Acquired by R. A Collings and retained by him 
1983 – Rebuilt by Geoffrey Marsh into original pre Appendix ‘C’ spec.
1984 ???

Currently residing in the USA, for more, pls visit:

Fitted with engine no. RB/300/2. 

1959 construction using as a basis DBR3/1 which had been built in 1958 to carry a short stroke 3-litre version of the 3.7litre engine that had been fitted to the DBR2s and later went into the road going DB4. It only raced once in that form at Silverstone (Moss) where it retired. With an RB6/300 engine installed, it finished 2nd at Le Mans (Trintignant/Frere) and 4th at the TT at Goodwood (Trintignant/Frere).
1961 – Loaned to the Essex Racing Stable who entered it at Le Mans where the car retired in the 19th hour (Salvadori/Maggs)


1963 – 68 - Ownership retained by Aston Martin but on loan to the Montague Motor Museum.
1970 – Rebuilt by Peter Brewer using a 2.5 litre engine (RB6/250/2 or 10?) from DBR4/4 GP car.
1972 – Rebuilt (again? crashed?) by the factory and retained by them for several more years and entered in various historic races driven by Bill Nicholson and later William Symons.
1981- 1992 ??
1993(? may have been earlier) – Acquired by Chris Draper and owned by him for many years. Now owned by Adrian Beecroft

Fitted with engine no.RB6/300/1. Carries registration no. NSK 693

1959 – The only one built from new for a customer, Graham Whitehead. Registered 900BH and fitted with 4-bearing engine. Some minor races plus Le Mans where it crashed (Whitehead/Naylor). Whitehead sportingly withdrew the car from the Tourist Triophy to allow the works to take over his pit following the fire in theirs(see DBR1/3 above)
1960 – Retired from Nurburgring 1000kms (Whitehead/Naylor) but came 1st in the Rouen 4-hour GP (Fairman). Then to the African continent for the Angola GP and it appears to have stayed in Africa for many years.
1961- 63 – Raced by Whitehead and then Pfaff

1965- 66 – Raced by van Tilburg in South Africa
1970- 72 - Rebuilt by Howard Cohen
1973-76 - Remained in the ownership of Cohen?
1977 – Acquired by Bob Tuccio and rebuilt in that year.
1978 – 198? Retained by Tuccio in the USA
1990? – Acquired by P. Kaus in Germany
2001? - Acquired by Wolfgang Friedrichs in Germany

Fitted with engine no. RB6/300/5