To engage first gear, depress the light clutch and steer the short lever towards your right leg. Second is straight across the naked transmission tunnel rather than up, with third up in front of first.
But instead of being mind-scrambling it’s almost intuitive, soon becoming natural to slip between the ratios.
Still, there’s a diagram from the factory on the bare aluminium dash beside the Jaeger dials, should you get in a muddle.
The gearlever – and the handy reminder
The wooden wheel is large and the skinny tyres dutifully do as it directs, the car leaning through bends with the rear gripping gamely.
It’s a consuming and engaging experience, one that would quickly be about rhythm and maintaining momentum.
The long stints at the 24 Hours must have been a riot – though the Mulsanne would have felt longer and louder than ever.
The DB’s current owner, Roland Roy, is more used to his cars gobbling Les Hunaudières with a bit more ease and lots more sonic delight.
He was a key figure in local marque Matra during its rise to racing prominence in the 1960s, working in its competitions department running the team of people creating the fabulous bodywork.
He and ‘Le Monstre’ were seemingly meant to be.
Unique in an already rarefied world of DBs
“It’s a small world,” he says via Antoine Mahe from Artcurial, which will auction Le Monstre at Rétromobile in Paris this week.
“The Matra-Djet Club president received a call from a mechanic in France telling him to come and look at this special DB because he didn’t know what it was. I went, too, and recognised it straight away.
“The last time I had seen it was in 1973 at Le Mans for the 50th anniversary of the 24 Hours; Guilhaudin and Rey were with it.
“I was there working for Matra, the year of the battle with Ferrari. I was in charge of the pit signals, and at the end of the race we prepared a sign with a horse flagging on it, and a cockerel showing the middle finger!”
Front-drive gives good traction