The most expensive British car in history: 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 sells for record-breaking £17.5m

A classic car raced by Sir Stirling Moss and described as the “most important Aston Martin ever produced”  became the most valuable British-made car ever when it sold for $22.5m (£17.5m) at the annual auction at Monterey Car Week on Friday.

The 1956 Aston Martin DBR1, is the firm’s equivalent to the Ferrari 250 GTO and Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR and just five were built between 1956 and 1958. This one sold is chassis number one – a purpose-built model developed by racing design chief, Ted Cutting.

DBR1/1 was designed to win at Le Mans, but while it failed to take the chequered flag in the 24-hour race, a later model did.

© Provided by The Telegraph

It is the first of a series of five racing cars, one of which won the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race. This particular car won the Nurburgring 1000 kilometre race that same year. It was subsequently sold, converted and made legal for street use in 1962.

The DBR1’s inline six-cylinder engine evolved from its debut in 1956 though its last race in 1959, ending up at 2,992cc and 268hp.

The original engine is included in the price of the car – but it currently has a modern engine with no historical value, so it can be raced without concern. This new engine raised the car’s output to 301hp.

© Provided by The Telegraph

RM Sotheby’s had valued the Aston Martin – which is believed to be the first DBR1 to go under the hammer- at more than £15 million.  

The DBR1 joins a handful of other classic Aston vehicles, including a 1959 DB4GT, which sold for an impressive $6.765 million, and a 2006 DBR9, which went for a cool $616,000.

By the end of the night, RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale generated over $60 million in sales. 

© Provided by The Telegraph

Meanwhile, at rival auction house Bonham’s on the same day, a 1995 McLaren F1  – the first of its model to sell in the US – sold for $15.62m (£12.2m).

The F1 was the most sophisticated car the world had ever seen, when it was launched in the early 1990s.

It was also the fastest, with the F1 capable of a accelerating from 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and hitting a top speed of 243mph.

Just 65 road cars were built and this model, known as chassis 044, remains as original as the day it left the Woking factory in 1995.

© Provided by The Telegraph

The Aston Martin and McLaren are owned by different people and had both been valued at around £15 million making them the two most valuable cars to ever to be sold at auction.


Both cars broke the current record for most expensive British car, which currently stands at $21.7m for the 1956 Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-Type.

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