Tuesday, 11 April 2017

218 Aston Martin DB4 Zagato?

Here is a bit of a mystery. An Aston Martin enthusiast in Australia has been in touch to ask for help in identifying this strange model. 

Here are some photos he has sent. I'll give my first thoughts after the images but I'd welcome any comments or helpful observations.

The first thing to do is try to ignore that horrible yellow paintwork which seems very amateur and the splash marks on the base seem to indicate that the person responsible wasn't too bothered or maybe just a child. 

The base does look as if it is original and, whilst rivets can be replaced, I get the impression that it hasn't been removed. So this seems to have started life as a normal 218 Aston Martin DB4. I also believe it was a red one as there are signs of red paint underneath and that model would have had the lemon interior which also looks normal, as does the window unit.

I reckon that someone has tried to make this into an Aston Martin DB4 Zagato.

There aren't many around but here's a photo [credit] of a real car which the model does seem to resemble very closely. 

So if we were to take a red 218, file off the bumpers and shave down the wings into a smoother shape and make the rear side window look more cut-off then we would be well on the way.

I can't quite see what has been done with the rear side windows but I'm pretty sure that it is either something stuck over part of the window or just a thick bit of paint. The filing and smoothing would have taken a while and a bit of skill but with the model held in a vice and a decent file it wouldn't have been impossible. I can imagine having a go at something like that myself and quite a few kids had dads with sheds and lots of tools like that in the late 1950s and early 1960s too.

The bonnet looks as if it doesn't open but I think that may well just be the heavy paint or even glue. Underneath there are signs of the original engine element still being in place. The vent has been 'divided', presumably by someone creasing it with a hammer and chisel. That would have been a bit tricky to avoid simply flattening the vent.

Corgi did make some prototypes in the factory, messing about sometimes with existing models, and that is another possibility but I think anyone working there would have made a better job of that rear side window.

The re-shaped model would have been in a bit of a mess paintwork-wise so someone might then have used some paint remover to get rid of the rest, although I wonder if I see a red chip on the roof? It might have been mostly removed by sandpaper and the tiny red bit is nothing original at all. I can imagine the car looking quite reasonable in its bare metal state but at some point someone has decided that it should be yellow and proceeded to bash it around a fair bit as most kids did in those days. Whether that was the original owner, a child or someone completely different is unlikely ever to be known. 

So that's my theory. Can you think of a better one to help Steve from Down Under?

Update 12 April 2017

The owner has been in touch again and tells me that there are no signs of obvious 'rough filing' and the corners do seem to have been shaped symmetrically. This, together with the vent re-shaping being done rather better than I had assumed from how it appears in the photos, tends to rule out the comparatively amateur 'shed job', unless the tools were very good and the person was pretty skilled. He thinks the Corgi factory guy doing something in his spare time or, perhaps, as part of a project there, is more likely. 

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