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Unique 198mph Aston Martin to sell for record-breaking £18.8m

A ONE-OFF Aston Martin which clocked a staggering 198.6mph in 1963 is set to sell for a record-breaking £18.8million.

The Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype was an ultra-light and aerodynamic racer fitted with a 4-litre engine.

And it was the first car to hit 300km/hr (186mph) down the famous Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans when it reached the speed in practice.

The Aston, in the hands of Phil Hull and Lucien Bianchi, was 12 seconds a lap quicker than the Ferrari 250 GTO but was forced to retire during the 1963 race after just 29 laps due to gearbox issues.

After shutting down its racing department, Aston Martin sold the team cars but kept DP215 for development in the hopes of an eventual return to racing in 1965.

But these hopes were shattered when DP215 was in an accident during night testing on the M1 motorway.

The current owners, Neil and Nigel Corner, who are vintage racing drivers of considerable renown and expertise, later completed DP215’s restoration by reuniting it with its original engine, from which it had been separated early in the car’s history.

The British father and son bought the car in 2002 and they have driven it to Italy and the South of France, through the centre of Paris and ‘over every road’ in Scotland.

They have now decided to sell DP215 — and it is expected to fetch $20m to $25m (£15-£18.8m) when RM Sotheby’s auctions it in Monterey, California, USA, on August 24/25.

The current record for an Aston Martin sold at auction is $22.5m (just under £17m), paid for the 1956 Aston Martin DBR1/1 in 2017.

Neil Corner said: ‘The lines of the car are absolute perfection. You can see where its outstanding maximum speed came from.

‘What’s more, its performance cannot be overemphasized — from a driving point of view, the acceleration in 2nd and 3rd gears always caused the hairs on the back of my hand to stand up.

‘The car feels like a thoroughbred to drive — the steering is delightfully light, the brakes are outstanding for the era, and there’s nothing quite like the bark of its incredible exhaust note.

‘I’ve driven DP215 everywhere, from rush hour traffic in the busy streets of Paris to full speed on some of the world’s greatest circuits, and I can attest that its performance is unbelievable on road or track.

‘I hope that DP215’s next custodian drives and enjoys the car as much as I have.’

The 198.6mph it hit was the fastest speed ever recorded by a front engine car on the old course at Le Mans.

RM Sotheby’s, which describes the Aston as ‘stunningly beautiful’, says it is as comfortable at 40mph as it is at 180mph-plus.

The Aston is one of three extraordinarily important 1960s car being sold by RM Sotheby’s at Monterey.

It will be joined by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which is expected to set a world auction record by selling for more than £35m, and a 1966 Ford GT40, valued at £9m, which finished third at Le Mans.

Alain Squindo, chief operating officer, RM Sotheby’s Group, said: ‘The DP cars are completely one-off competition projects and are essentially on their own level when it comes to Aston Martin racing royalty.

‘DP215 is the pinnacle of the Works team’s racing development, and the new owner will acquire a car that is not only extraordinarily special but also more capable of running at the front of the pack than virtually any other racing car on the market.

‘We’ve had the pleasure of offering some of the world’s most important Aston Martins at auction, including the record-setting DBR1/1 and the DB4GT Prototype at Monterey just last year, and we’re tremendously honored to add DP215 to that list.’