Lux­ury car­mak­ers and de­sign­ers are in­creas­ingly dip­ping their toes into the wa­ters of high-end boat­mak­ing, with com­pa­nies such as As­ton Martin and Pin­in­fa­rina now join­ing the fold, writes Adam Work­man

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Lux­ury car­mak­ers are in­creas­ingly dip­ping their toes into the wa­ters of high-end boat-mak­ing

Di­ver­si­fy­ing into premium life­style prod­ucts is noth­ing new for the world’s top mo­tor­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers, whether it’s high-end home­ware or en­tire houses. But the lat­est cross-pol­li­na­tion trend has seen mul­ti­ple house­hold-name car brands splash­ing out into yacht-mak­ing.

For the UAE, the com­ing to­gether of lux­ury car­mak­ers and top-of-the-mar­ket boat de­sign­ers is an ob­vi­ous Venn-di­a­gram con­ver­gence. Where else on the planet, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of a hand­ful of Euro­pean hon­ey­pots such as Monaco, are you likely to see su­per­cars and su­pery­achts with such fre­quency? And the same cus­tomers who love their mo­tor­ing eye candy to be in pos­ses­sion of a pres­ti­gious badge are, more o en than not, in a po­si­tion to cast off onto the open wa­ters in equally flashy float­ing ves­sels.

“It’s hap­pen­ing be­cause cus­tomers are de­mand­ing it,” says Marek Re­ich­man, de­sign chief at As­ton Martin, which has joined the car/boat arms race with the AM37 day cruiser. “Peo­ple have their favourite brands, don’t they? Is it Ap­ple or an An­droid de­vice? And I think once you be­come ac­cus­tomed to the way some­thing feels and makes you feel, then you have a de­sire and a want to have more [of that] in your life.”

There is a chance that a client for a Fer­rari Ser­gio is in­ter­ested in a su­pery­acht, and vice versa

The AM37 is the lat­est in a fast-ex­pand­ing line of col­lab­o­ra­tions in the car world – Pin­in­fa­rina, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are among the names that have also pad­dled into the world of boat-mak­ing. As­ton’s 11-me­tre (or 37-foot, hence the name) cra is the fruit of a three-way labour of love from the Bri­tish car­maker and two Dutch co-con­spir­a­tors, Quin­tes­sence Yachts and Mul­der De­sign.

Re­ich­man and his team con­cep­tu­alised, as he puts it, “ev­ery­thing you see above the wa­ter line” – which in­cludes a sleek teak deck that evokes thoughts of the grand old car­maker’s op­u­lent dash­boards. The de­sign chief ex­plains that the com­pany has har­boured plans to pro­duce a boat from the days of David Brown, who headed As­ton from 1947 to 1972 and lent his ini­tials to the famed DB range. Seven decades on from Brown’s orig­i­nal ac­qui­si­tion, the time was right.

“Quin­tes­sence de­cided that there was po­ten­tial in the mar­ket­place to cre­ate and de­velop some­thing very dif­fer­ent, and ap­proached us,” Re­ich­man says. “That mo­ment came maybe two-and-a-half years ago, and the first pro­duc­tion boats are now hit­ting the wa­ter.

“We’re not privy to say who the cus­tomers are or how many at the mo­ment. We can only build seven boats a year be­cause of the amount of time [it takes]; they’re heav­ily per­son­alised. But sev­eral of the first cus­tomers are part of our VIP club. They’re mul­ti­ple As­ton Martin own­ers, and now they’re own­ing the As­ton Martin boats as well. [These are] cus­tomers who are driv­ing the cars, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ocean; en­joy­ing the art of liv­ing, as it were.”

Ad­mit­tedly, en­joy­ing this high-lux­ury seg­ment re­quires deep pock­ets: the AM37 costs from £1,260,720 (Dh6.1m) for the dual-430hp-en­gined ver­sion. But in this strato­spheric world, the speedy, 52knot ves­sel is at the mod­est end of the scale.

Ital­ian de­sign le­gend Pin­in­fa­rina – best known for its work on some of the most iconic Fer­raris of all time, from the Dino to the Tes­tarossa – has taken things to an al­to­gether greater level with the Aurea. A link-up with com­pa­triot ship­yard Rossi­navi, the 70-me­tre su­pery­acht, which had its pre­miere in Lon­don in June, is more or less a beach club with a hull. It has two swim­ming pools, three large out­door decks and ad­di­tional wa­ter-level ac­cess on both sides.

“The boat sec­tor needs new ideas, es­pe­cially in the lux­ury class where the cur­rent de­signs are too con­ser­va­tive,” chair­man Paolo Pin­in­fa­rina rea­sons. “In­no­va­tion is gen­er­ated by con­tam­i­na­tion of dif­fer­ent de­sign ex­pe­ri­ences, the so-called ‘cross-fer­til­i­sa­tion’ process. The av­er­age age of cus­tomers is de­creas­ing, so new de­sign pro­pos­als are needed and the in­puts from car de­sign­ers are cer­tainly wel­come.

“Rossi­navi de­fined clearly the lay­out of the yacht. When we started to de­velop the ex­te­rior de­sign, all the de­tails, spec­i­fi­ca­tions and vol­ume dis­tri­bu­tions were al­ready de­vel­oped. Our task was to put the best dress on a func­tional body, so the process was def­i­nitely 50/50. The shape of the Aurea is very fluid, sin­u­ous and har­mo­nious. It takes its in­spi­ra­tion from the lines of the sea,” Pin­in­fa­rina ex­plains.

Aimed at ul­tra-high-net-worth in­di­vid­u­als, Aurea’s pric­ing is, per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, firmly in the “if you have to ask…” cat­e­gory.

Roughly mid­way be­tween the As­ton and Aurea is the GTT 115 Hy­brid, a meet­ing of minds from Mona­cobased yacht-builder Dy­namiq and Porsche’s Stu­dio F A. The 35-me­tre su­pery­acht, which fea­tures Tar­gastyle mul­lions among other flour­ishes taken from the Ger­man car­maker’s il­lus­tri­ous his­tory, was put into pro­duc­tion ear­lier this year. GTT stands for Gran Turismo Transat­lantic.

“In a way, the trans­fer of lux­u­ri­ous trans­porta­tion from the road to the wa­ters seems log­i­cal,” says Roland Heiler, Porsche Stu­dio F A’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer. “Many as­pects, with re­gard to the style, ma­te­ri­als and cra sman­ship, can be re­lated. Trans­fer­ring brand val­ues is also an in­ter­est­ing as­pect and not to be un­der­es­ti­mated.”

The GTT 115 Hy­brid is a lim­ited edi­tion of seven and costs from €12.5m (Dh55m), a price that can quickly rise with op­tional em­bel­lish­ments such as a sun­deck pool (€27,500) or, if you are feel­ing par­tic­u­larly flash, a Porsche Panam­era 4 E-Hy­brid Sport Turismo in match­ing in­te­rior colours for a cool €131,200.

While those cra are in­formed by, rather than di­rectly drawn from, cel­e­brated de­sign lines, per­haps the most ob­vi­ous homage yet to the mo­tor­ing world is Mercedes-Benz’s work with Sil­ver Ar­rows Marine. The uni­son led to the Ar­row460-Gran­tur­ismo, which made its maiden voy­age last year. The 14-me­tre mo­tor yacht mir­rors the strik­ing shades of the cur­rent MercedesAMG For­mula One cars, while its side-on sil­hou­ette is a slightly un­holy mat­ri­mony of boat­ing and mo­tor­ing, with the cabin very rem­i­nis­cent of an S- Class’s pil­lars and roofline.

Tak­ing a less lit­eral vis­ual in­ter­pre­ta­tion of its in­creas­ingly fu­tur­is­tic car de­sign, mean­while, is the Sport Yacht con­cept, Lexus’s the­o­ret­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion to the ex­pand­ing cross­over mar­ket, un­veiled at the start of this year in Mi­ami. But it is per­haps the most straight­for­ward ap­pli­ca­tion of four-wheeled tech, pow­ered by two Lexus V8 en­gines based on those un­der the bon­net of its flag­ship LC 500 sports car. Sadly, as it stands, the yacht – de­vel­oped along­side Amer­i­can com­pany Mar­quis-Carver – is cur­rently a con­cept only, with no in­ten­tions to put it into pro­duc­tion as of yet.

What all these projects share, how­ever, is an in­her­ent sim­i­lar­ity with the core ob­jec­tives of a lux­ury car: ef­fi­ciently cut­ting through its sur­round­ing medium, be that air or wa­ter, while in­spir­ing its fi­nan­cially blessed po­ten­tial cus­tomers with taste-mak­ing de­sign.

“Cer­tainly the Pin­in­fa­rina lux­ury projects, in dif­fer­ent sec­tors such as au­to­mo­tive, hous­ing, boat and avi­a­tion, are ad­dressed to clients who have a par­tic­u­lar at­ti­tude for in­no­va­tion,” says Pin­in­fa­rina. “There­fore, there is a po­ten­tial cross­over ben­e­fit. There is a chance that a client for a Pin­in­fa­rina au­to­mo­bile, such as a Fer­rari Ser­gio, is in­ter­ested in a su­pery­acht, and vice versa,” he adds.

“As­ton Martin makes sports cars, and mak­ing a fast boat is very sim­i­lar in many ways be­cause of the chal­lenges of go­ing fast on wa­ter ver­sus go­ing fast on a track, or hav­ing a per­for­mance prod­uct that goes on the roads,” says Re­ich­man, who trained as an in­dus­trial de­signer be­fore study­ing for a master’s in ve­hi­cle de­sign.

“The way the hull op­er­ates in the wa­ter is quite sim­i­lar to the way a car cuts through the air,” he con­tin­ues. “Some of the chal­lenges [we faced] were be­gin­ning to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ences be­tween fluid dy­nam­ics and aero­dy­nam­ics. And, quite sur­pris­ingly, they’re very sim­i­lar.”

ALL HANDS ON DECK The 37-foot AM37 day cruiser is the re­sult of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween As­ton Martin, Quin­tes­sence Yachts and Mul­der De­sign

SET­TING SAIL Op­po­site page, top, the Mercedes-Benz Ar­row460Gran­tur­ismo mir­rors the shades of the cur­rent Mercedes-AMG F1 cars. Op­po­site page, bot­tom, in­te­rior de­tails of the AM37 cruiser, which has a teak deck, rem­i­nis­cent of As­ton Martin’s sleek dash­boards. Right, the de­sign of the Lexus Sport Yacht con­cept. Be­low, a ren­der­ing of the in­te­ri­ors of the GTT 115 Hy­brid, de­signed by Monaco yacht­builder Dy­namiq and Porsche’s Stu­dio F A

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