Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato ‘2 VEV’: Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell…

Posted: September 22, 2015 in Sports Racers, Who,What,Where & When...?
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lex aintree

2VEV Chassis # 0183/R…

‘2 VEV’ chassis # 0183/R was registered to John Ogier’s ‘Essex Wire Racing Team’ on 19 May 1961, the famous car was raced by Aussies Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell at Le Mans in 1961 alongside ‘1VEV’ driven by Jack Fairman and Bernard Consten.

The cars had factory support but the race was a disaster with both failing to finish due to head studs which had been insufficiently ‘torqued’, they had run as high as 15th and 17th behind the open Aston DBR1’s.

le mans start

Le Mans 1961 start;#1 Dewez/Kerguen DB4Z , #2 Fairman/Consten DB4Z, #3 Davison/Stillwell DB4Z, #4 Salvadori/Maggs Aston DBR1, #5 Clark/Flockhart Aston DBR1 all DNF! Race won by the Gendebien/Phil Hill Ferrari 250TR. (unattributed)

Both Davison and Stillwell, Australian multiple champions both, had immaculate Aston Martin connections, they raced GP Aston DBR4’s in Australia, Lex came within feet of winning the 1960 AGP in his at Lowood, Queensland, being pipped on the line by Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati after a thrilling race long dice…the closest any of these wonderful but outdated cars came to a GP win. Lex also contested a few ‘Intercontinental’ races in the DBR4 for old 2.5 litre F1 cars in the UK in 1961.


Lex Davison contesting an Intercontinental Formula race at Brands Hatch in his bruised Aston DBR4/250 ‘4’ in 1961. The car, 3 litre DBR1 powered came within feet of winning the Australian Grand Prix at Lowood, Queensland in June 1960. (unattributed)

Back in the Zagato, Lex Davison contested the 51 Mile GT Race at Aintree in July, winning the race after a battle with Jack Sears Jag E Type. He took the lead on the last lap and recorded the cars only race win ‘in period’. ‘Motor’ magazine reported that Davison ‘looked like the prosperous middle aged businessman that he is, rather than a dashing man about town’. In fact he was a champion middle aged racing driver…bloody poms, a four times winner of the Australian Grand Prix no less!

Jim Clark contested the 1961 TT at Goodwood in August, but the Ferrari 250’s were too quick, Salvadori and Clark taking 3rd and 4th respectively in ‘VEV1 and 2’.

‘2 VEV’ was lent to Equipe National Belge to race in the 1962 GP of Spa for GT cars. Lucien Bianchi led the race before losing the car and ‘totalling it’. In 5 weeks the car was rebuilt by the factory around a new chassis the car featuring a lower, flatter roofline, longer nose and tail and wider rear wheel arches than a standard DB4Z.


Oh So famous Goodwood shot of Jim Clark in Aston DB4 Zagato ‘2VEV’ Goodwood TT 1962. (unattributed)

Clark raced the car at the Goodwood TT in 1962 and was running 4th, he spun inexplicably whilst being lapped by Surtees, taking then both out and requiring more works surgery to ‘2VEV’. The car raced again in Clark’s hands in the Paris 1000km, but failed whilst driven by John Whitmore.

calrk and surtees

Surtees Ferrari 250GTO and Jim Clark’s Aston DB4 Zagato Goodwood TT 1962. Clrak spun taking John out, lap 62. Race won by the Innes Ireland Ferrari 250GTO. (unattributed)

The car then ran in minor events in Ogier’s ownership till 1964, it raced on into the late sixties and historic racing after that. ‘2VEV’ was damaged in a road accident in 1993 and was restored/rebuilt to its 1962 specifications, the car has had ‘more hits than Elvis’ as the saying goes…

goodwood start

1962 Goodwood TT start; Clark the bolter in his DB4Z,#15 winning Ireland 250GTO, #6 Surtees ill fated GTO, #5 Mike Parkes GTO, #8 David Piper GTO, #25 Trevor Taylor/Gil Baird Lotus Elite. (unattributed)



Australia’s only DB4Z was owned by Sydney’s Laurie O’Neill. Here the car is pictured in the Longford paddock in 1962, it was raced in a support event by multiple AGP Winner Doug Whiteford. (Ron Lambert Collection)

The DB4 Zagato…

The Aston Martin DB4 GTZ was introduced in October 1960 at the London Motor Show. It was effectively a DB4 GT improved by Zagato in Italy, Ercole Spada is the designer credited with the work. It was smaller, more aerodynamic and lighter than the DB4GT. The Zagato’s engine produced 314 bhp 12 more than the DB4GT giving it a top speed of 154 mph.

Initially the factory planned to build 25 cars, but demand wasn’t strong, only 19 cars were built, although 23 chassis numbers were allocated. 4 modern ‘Sanction 2 Coupes’ were built on DB4 rolling chassis by Zagato in a project sanctioned by the factory in 1987 and completed in 1991.

The first competition outing of a DB4 GT Zagato was during the Goodwood Easter meeting in 1961. Driven by Stirling Moss the car finished 3rd behind an Aston Martin DB4GT and the winning Ferrari 250 GT.

motor show

1960 London Motor Show launch for the DB4GT Zagato.


le mans paddock

John Ogier’s 2 Aston DB4 Zagato’s at Le Mans 1961 #3 Davison/Stillwell #2 Fairman/Consten(unattributed)


bernard reeves

Painting of the Davison/Stillwell DB4Z at Le Mans 1961. (Bernard Reeves)


Ron Bert Collection, Bernard Reeves, Jim McKeown Collection


(J McKeown)

Doug Whiteford, Aston Martin DB4Z, Jim McKeown, Jewitt Holden and George Spanos, Elfin Streamliner before the Longford GT race in 1962 won by Whiteford from McKeown.


  1. Joe Armour says:

    Back in gthe mid 1960s I read an Australian paperback novel which was the story of a young FJ Holden tin-top driver who was scouted by ‘the entrant’ and went on to race an Aston DB4 GT or Zagato ( it was a long time ago ) but I have never been able to find the title or author. I once meet Spencer Martin and asked him if he was aware of the novel as it was very similar to his story

  2. […] Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato ‘2 VEV’: Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell… […]

  3. […] The Aston DB4 GT Zagato has Victorian plates, I wonder which of the two (?) which came to Australia in period it is. It looks well used which is rather nice. Laurie O’Neill had one which Doug Whiteford and Pete Geoghegan gave a bit of a gallop, but wasn’t there another too? Intrigued to know which chassis this is and whereabouts the shot is taken. Check out this article on the cars; […]

  4. […] is a bit about Lex and Bib’s adventures in Astons in 1961 here; After that Lex shipped the car to the UK to contest a number of Intercontinental Formula races that […]

  5. Ron Simmonds says:

    Colin Hymns also had a Zagato here in Melbourne, I would see this car when it came into A F Hollins motors for Lou Russo to wave his magic wand over it. Colin now lives in the UK and has done so for many years,he is on FB if you look him up. Cheers Simmo.

  6. Ron Simmonds says:

    That would be Colin Hyams ,spell check again .Cheers Simmo.

  7. Richard Owen says:

    Lovely article. However, may I respectively challenge your comment to the photo of Laurie O’Neill’s DB4 Zagato in the Longford Paddock in 1962. The photo is captioned as “Australia’s only DB4Z”. I’m sure I recall seeing an Aston green DB4Z racing in period at Katoomba’s Catalina Park, I think driven by Lex Davidson.

    • markbisset says:

      Hi Richard,
      Am certainly not an expert on these cars in any respect, i thought we only had the one but that may not be the case- lets see what comes back from others, i am away from home at present so don’t have access to my copy of Lex’ biography to have a quick peek there.

  8. Colin Smeal says:

    I have vivid memories as a car-mad 16-year-old coming across a beautiful white DB4 Zagato parked out the front of the Chevron Hilton in Macleay St Kings Cross sometime in 1961. I was stunned by its simple beauty and while I knew of the DB4Z existence I never for a moment thought I would ever see one. I must have spent at least half an hour just walking around and admiring that car. It subsequently appeared on the cover of our late lamented Sports Car World magazine and was identified as Laurie O’Niell’s.To think that there was actually another one in Victoria when there were only 19 in the world is amazing. On another night, parked outside the Australia Hotel in Elizabeth Street there was another stunner – a red 300SL Mercedes-Benz roadster. It also showed up on the cover of SCW. To me, 60 years later, these two cars still stand out as near perfection in design to my mind.

    • markbisset says:

      Yes Colin,
      Both wonderful cars and now ‘global investments’which is a shame of course. We all have that first jaw dropping moment don’t we? For me it was being rounded up on my bike at 14 or 16 by a pistachio Miura S on a ride to Bulleen to see my favourite Lotus Europa- i heard it well before it went quickly past with me unleashing a suitable ‘pwoooahhh’. Sports Car World, wow, what can you say, nothing has ever replaced it.
      I was talking to a guy involved in ‘Australian Muscle Car’ magazine last week, it sells 20,000 issues bi-monthly and is profitable on that number so that is the challenge in Australia. It does not sound like a lot but it is given the prevalence of so much online for free…

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