Aston Martin DP215

Aston Martin DP215 frontt.JPG
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.

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 led 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.

Following Le Mans, the DP215 appeared 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, leading to bending all the valves, forcing the car to retire on lap 4.

This page was last edited on 15 July 2017, at 23:44.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

Related Topics

Recently Viewed