In August 2017, a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1, chassis number one, became the most expensive British car ever sold at auction.  The $22,550,000 (£17.5 million) winning bid was placed via telephone at RM Sotheby’s Monterey.  This DBR1 was driven by Sir Sterling Moss.

Aston Martin DBR1
Aston Martin DBR1

Aston Martin originally designed and built the sports racing car for the Worlds Sportscar Championship.  Between 1956 and 1961, the DBR1 featured in 18 races, including 4 at Le Mans.  There were 9 wins including a one-two at the 1959 Le Mans, the only time Aston Martin ever won the famous endurance race.  Indeed, the DBR1 is one of 3 cars in the 1950s to win the 24 hours of Le Mans and the Worlds Sports Car championship, alongside two Ferraris, the 375 Plus and the 250 TR.  Famous drivers of the DBR1 included Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Carroll Shelby, and Sir Stirling Moss.

The DBR1 was born from a change in the rules for sports racing cars.  From 1956, there was no longer a requirement to use cars that were road legal.  Although the body evolved from the shape of the DB3S, there were significant changes to increase the aerodynamics to increase the speed.  In 1956, the DBR1 featured a 2.5-litre (2493 cc) racing engine, although this was changed to a straight-6 3-litre (2992 cc) for the 1957 season.

The DBR1 was over 4m long and 1.63m wide.  The lower profile meant that the height was reduced to just under 1m.

Aston Martin DBR1 Instrumentation

When selecting the tachometer and other gauges for the DBR1, Aston Martin returned to SMITHS Instruments.  SMITHS already had a long-standing working relationship with Aston Martin and had provided gauges for models including the DB1 and DB2.

Aston Martin DBR1 dashboard
Aston Martin DBR1 dashboard

In all, four gauges were supplied with the ammeter was supplied by Lucas.  As with all sports racing cars, the main instrument the tachometer was a chronometric instrument with a tell tale pointer.  The other gauges registered oil pressure and temperature, and water temperature.

SMITHS Instruments have a great history of designing and supplying gauges for classic sports racing cars including the GT40.

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