Jul 19 2020

Our First Job, The Sanction II Zagato!

Aston Martin Sanction II Zagato

At the 1960 London Motor Show, Aston Martin unveiled the DB4 GT Zagato. The car, inspired by Zagato’s Ercole Spada, was lighter and faster than a standard DB4 and the expectation was that 25 cars would be made.

Somewhat surprisingly, based on what we now know, production was reduced to only 20 cars because of a lack of demand, and in fact, only 19 were sold!

The Plot Thickens

However, the story doesn’t end there. Back in 1960 when the plan was to build 25 cars, 25 chassis numbers were allocated, leaving six valuable non-existent vehicles, so to speak.

Unsurprisingly, the initial indifference to the DB4 GT Zagato didn’t last long. Their undoubted beauty, along with the fact only 19 were produced turned them into something of a holy grail for classic Aston Martin enthusiasts. Today an original DB4 GT Zagato will set you back north of £6m, add some racing heritage and prices go off the scale.

This was in no small part helped by two racing versions affectionately knowns as 1 VEV and 2 VEV because of their distinctive number plates. Non-other than the late great Sir Stirling Moss drove the first racing DB4 GT Zagato at Goodwood in early 1961, finishing third. It wasn’t until later that year 2 VEV secured the first DB4 GT Zagato racing win, by overtaking a Jaguar E-Type on the last lap!

Enter Pugsley & Lewis

We now fast forward to 1988 when Martin Pugsley and Tim Lewis were still working at R S Williams in Brixton. With 6 unassigned chassis numbers available, Aston Martin commissioned the build of 4 “new” DB4 GT Zagato cars and asked Richard Williams and his team to build them.

Martin and Tim were part of the team that built three of the 4 vehicles under the R S Williams banner. However, at this time Richard was increasingly becoming involved with Aston Martin Racing; he eventually took the decision to close his Aston Martin workshop and concentrate full time on the racing team. This left one slight problem. Only three of the newly sanctioned DB4 GT Zagatos were finished and ready to send to Italy for the Zagato bodyshells to be added. Enter Pugsley and Lewis.

A Star Is Born

With the changes happening at R S Williams, Martin and Tim took the decision to start their own business restoring and looking after classic Aston Martin cars and Pugsley & Lewis was born. This was May 1989.

Richard Williams, now focussed on Aston Martin Racing, still had to honour his commitment to building the fourth and final Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, now generally known as Sanction II Zagatos. In his wisdom, Richard recognised there were two people perfectly positioned to complete the fourth Sanction II car, Martin and Tim.

So, in May 1989 Martin and Tim literally carried the chassis of the fourth and final DB4 GT Zagato Sanction II car to their new premises over the road from R S Williams.

IMG 3126

They set to work building the car until, although still minus its bodywork, it could be driven. As Tim and Martin would say, it’s not a bad way to start a new Aston Martin restorations business.

Once the fourth car was completed, it was sent off to Zagato in Italy, complete with the other three Sanction II’s and an original DB4 GT Zagato for reference.

In Itay, the cars were finished, bodywork and interiors, and brought back to the UK for their official launch at R S Williams in 1991. Today an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Sanction II will cost you £3m to £4m.

Aston Martin DB4 Zagato Chassis and VEV2

The Zagato Love Affair Didn’t End There

Following on from the prestigious work on the Sanction II cars Pugsley & Lewis have continued to work on and look after many other Zagato’s.

For example, there was the ‘conversion’ of a V8 Zagato previously owned by non-other than Rowan Atkinson. The car had been prepared for racing or track use, but its new owner wanted to use the vehicle on the road. Pugsley and Lewis modified the suspension, added a heating and A/C system, fitted all the required legal equipment – such as lights that actually lit the road up – and generally made the car more road-use friendly.

Over the years the team have also worked on an original DB4 Zagato owned by Richard Williams. This car had been initially owned by Ugo Zagato, the founder of the Zagato coachbuilding company, and cars don’t come much more special than that.

Zagato Chassis with Tim and Martin

Importantly, the guys were part of the team who prepared the now legendary 2 VEV DB4 Zagato for racing. Not many people can claim to have worked on a car as well known and loved as 2 VEV!

Then there were the four lightweight DB4 race cars originally made by Martin and Tim’s former employer R S Williams. These fantastic cars have made regular trips to Pugsley and Lewis for servicing and repairs.

Most recently, there was a rare DB7 Zagato in for a pre-sale service and debug session. This car is one of only 99 sold as the 100th was built purely for the Aston Martin Museum. It’s pictured in our workshop below.

IMG 3119

Unique and Highly Specialised Aston Martin Expertise

Martin and Tim would be the first to admit they are not the only credible classic Aston Martin specialists. Still, they do consider themselves to be in a small and elite group and rightly so.

Pugsley & Lewis’s expertise and heritage has been created over 30 years of bringing back to life neglected Astons, but as this story illustrates, there’s so much more to the firm.

The businesses founders, Martin and Tim, who are still both active members of the Pugsley & Lewis team, have significant experience with some of the most exotic classic Astons on the planet. Having built the DB4 GT Zagato Sanction II cars, three while at R S Williams and one as the inaugural Pugsley & Lewis project, there is no classic Aston project too big or specialised for them to handle.

It would be fair to say the team have an almost unique perspective and depth of understanding of the DB4 Sanction II’s and by definition the original DB4 GT Zagatos. When you think about it, they’re part of a unique group of people who can make that claim.

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