Aston Martin DP215
|Category||Le Mans Racer Sports car racing|
|Constructor||Aston Martin Lagonda LTD|
|Chassis||Lightweight tubular steel frame, drilled steel box section, alloy floor panels, Mag/alu alloy bodied, NACA ducts, Plexiglass side/rear windows (with air ducts), Front screen the same as the DB4GT Zagato|
|Suspension (front)||Fully adjustable unequal wishbones and coil springs, back to front lower wishbones (shorter than DP214's)|
|Suspension (rear)||Fully independent wide based unequal length wishbones, double wishbone layout|
|Length||14 ft 6 in (442 cm)|
|Width||5 ft 6 in (168 cm)|
|Height||4 ft 0 in (122 cm)|
|Axle track||Front 4 ft 7 in (140 cm) Rear 4 ft 7 in (140 cm)|
|Wheelbase||7 ft 10 in (239 cm)|
|Engine||Aston Martin 3,996 cc Straight 6, twin overhead cam, aluminium head, 3 Weber 50 DCO, 323 bhp (241 kW; 327 PS) at 6,000 rpm (Although John Wyer quotes 323 bhp (241 kW; 327 PS) @ 6000 rpm for the 1963 Le Mans), 198.6 mph (319.6 km/h), 96 x 92 (B/S), 9:1 Compression Later changed to a 4,164 cc engine, 98 x 92 (B/S), 10.5 FR Layout|
|Transmission||David Brown CG537 synchromesh in magnesium alloy casting 5-speed Manual, 9" single clutch David Brown 8.25" spiral bevel|
|Weight||2,219 lb (1,007 kg) dry|
The Aston Martin DP215 was a prototype sports car built by Aston Martin for grand touring-style racing in 1963. It was built alongside the similar DP214, both of which replaced the previous DP212. Only a single example was built, which survives today.
Again using a DB4GT chassis, the DP215 was stylistically similar to the DP214, but had the advantage of not only being slightly lighter, but also using the larger 4.0-litre Tadek Marek Inline-6-cylinder engine which had previously powered DP212. Even though the car was also intended to carry the Tadek Marek designed 5-litre V8 engine, which later appeared in the Lola Aston T70 MkIII. Even so with this increased power and decreased weight, the DP215 was seen as better suited to Le Mans' Mulsannes straight than the DP214.
The car never had the ‘planned’ V8 fitted and 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 the weakest link from the older and lower-powered DBR1, its CG537 5-speed transaxle; clearly a big mistake and one admitted by John Wyer. Visually, and dimensionally, the body was the same as the DP214's but with bonnet line, only 1.5 inches lower, enabled by the dry sump engine. The car was initially fitted with engine no. 400/215/1.
Le Mans 24 Hour 1963
Debuting at the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans, the lone DP215, driven by Lucien Bianchi and Phil Hill, started alongside the two DP214's. During practice the DP215 set a time of 3m 57.2s with Hill. During the race the DP215 was intended to be the ‘hare’ for the DP214’s, trying to break the Ferrari’s, lapping at 4m 05s. Hill lead away at the start but was passed by a Maserati on the Mulsanne straight. On the sixth lap Hill was in fifth place, but unavoidably ran over debris from an accident of a car, who was about to be lapped. Hill pitted so the mechanics could see if any damage had been caused to the under carriage, but no damage was found and Phil Hill was sent out again.
However during the third hour (2hr 12m) after 29 laps, DP215 retired from the race whilst running ninth. The transmission had broken and the teeth on the input bevel failed; it was assumed that the extra torque of the 4-litre engine was responsible, as this had never happened to the DBR cars. Both DP214 cars would also suffer problems and be forced to retire. However, both DP214 and DP215, were the first cars officially recorded as exceeding 300 km/h (186 mph) down the Mulsanne. But, DP215 was the quickest of all. Phil Hill, in practice had been recorded at 319.6 km/h (198.6 mph) and Ted Cutting, the Aston Martin designer, is certain that DP215 had, in fact, exceeded 200 mph (320 km/h), since the timing was recorded before the cars had reached their maximum speed or the braking area. The car still remains the fastest front end Aston Martin ever made, with Phil Hill describing the car as light and controllable at such speeds down the straight.
After Le Mans 24 Hour
Following Le Mans, the DP215 would appear at the 12 Hours of Reims (a race accompanying the French GP), driven by Jo Schlesser. The car should have won easily, due to no serious opposition in the field. But after leading, Schlesser was having more trouble with the repaired CG537 transmission. Having difficulty changing gear, and missing gears, which caused over-revving of the engine, unfortunately leading to bending all the valves, forcing the car to retire on lap 4.
At the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch, the car only completed a demonstration lap (driven by Bill Kimberley), due to financial/tax reasons. Shortly after the DP215 was rebuilt with more conventional transmission which allowed the fitting of the David Brown S532 5-speed box, which was also in the DP212. The car was soon retired from factory use as the DP214's proved more reliable.
In 1966, while being driven/tested on the M1 Motorway, DP215 was involved in an accident which badly damaged the car (at this time it carried the reg. no 'ENP 246B'). Whilst travelling at about 100 mph (160 km/h) on the motorway a slower Dormobile wandered out into the outside lane, with the Aston Martin unable to avoid a collision. Both vehicles were severely damaged but all occupants were OK. Aston Martin not wishing to gain publicity over the accident quickly sold the damaged engine and parted with the remains of the car. With the engineless car being bought for scrap value, by Malcolm Calvert, from the Isle of Wight, Calvert then set about restoring the car.
During the 1960s
The car was rebuilt using a spare DP214/DP215 body and a dash, bought from the factory, with a DB6 engine planned to be installed, as the original engine had by then been fitted to DP214 (DB4GT/0194/R). The rare S532 gearbox had gone missing (possibly back as a spare to DP212) so, at this time a ZF gearbox, similar to those fitted to the V8 road cars was used to keep the car running. However the car was badly constructed, with the chassis still bent and the body shell being fitted to match this bent chassis. More inaccuracies were that the headlight openings were incorrect and the dry sump system was put in the wrong place. Finally, the car was fitted with Cobra wire wheels (not original Borrani) and not to mention the DB6 engine used.