Spot­light on the Za­gato As­ton mar­ket, plus previews of forth­com­ing sales


A LIT­TLE MORE than two years ago I re­ceived a sternly worded note from a reader, prompted by a quip made at the ex­pense of a £247,900 V8 Za­gato. To have likened the strangely dressed V8 to the Nis­san Blue­bird was, he wrote, ‘most un­char­i­ta­ble – to the Blue­bird’.

Said gen­tle­man’s let­ter sticks out in the me­mory be­cause it was the only one writ­ten fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of is­sue 8 that did not sug­gest I might want to visit an op­ti­cian.

Whether the V8 Za­gato looks good or not is a mat­ter of taste, but my backand-forth with fans of the car ce­mented this view: Za­gato is the Jimi Hen­drix of the coach­build­ing world, a gifted ec­cen­tric ca­pa­ble of clas­si­cally beau­ti­ful work but in­clined to ex­per­i­ment, and – this is the cru­cial part – not judged by the same stan­dards as most.

Za­gato’s rep­u­ta­tion for left-field styling bril­liance is such that its cars are no longer as­sessed in any con­ven­tional way. Just as there are no good or bad Hen­drix songs, there are no good Za­gatos or bad Za­gatos – only great ones and in­ter­est­ing ones. They’re all con­sid­ered im­por­tant, and at auc­tion you’ll pay a sort of ‘ge­nius pre­mium’ for any of them.

The car­rozze­ria’s As­tons have al­ways been hot prop­erty, but in re­cent years their sep­a­ra­tion from the cars on which they are based has be­come in­creas­ingly pro­nounced. A stan­dard DB4 GT re­mains the holy grail for many As­ton en­thu­si­asts, and book price for a con­cours car, if you can find one for sale, is nudg­ing $3 mil­lion. (It will be in­ter­est­ing to see what ef­fect, if any, the new con­tin­u­a­tion cars have on val­ues.) An aw­ful lot of money, but pocket change com­pared with the $14.3 mil­lion paid for the 14th Za­gato-bod­ied vari­ant at RM Sotheby’s New York sale in 2015.

The sep­a­ra­tion is even more ex­treme at the less pointy end of the mar­ket. The DB7, even in Van­tage spec, re­mains an af­ford­able propo­si­tion: shortly af­ter our dead­line, Barons will of­fer a 2000 ex­am­ple (ad­mit­tedly a high-mileage car in need of mi­nor touch-ups) with an es­ti­mate of £19,000-22,000. Garage queens can still be had for around twice the lat­ter fig­ure. Want a coupé sprin­kled with Za­gato’s magic dust? RM sold one at its Paris sale in Fe­bru­ary for ¤ 392,000.

The Us-mar­ket, open-top DB AR1 has been a sta­ple of posh auc­tions in re­cent months, and is sim­i­larly ex­pen­sive. At RM’S Phoenix sale in Jan­uary, an ex­cel­lent car fetched $379,500. The 800 miles on the clock no doubt en­cour­aged bid­ders to splurge – or per­haps it was the pair of orig­i­nal and un­used um­brel­las mounted inside the boot lid… Prized col­lec­tor’s items, those.

One im­pres­sive re­sult al­ways brings other cars out of the wood­work, and fol­low­ing the sale of V12 Za­gato num­ber 26 in Septem­ber for £655,200, num­ber ‘Zero’ (ti­tled as such at the re­quest of the first owner) was the sec­ond Za­gato cre­ation to go un­der the ham­mer at RM’S Paris event.

With nu­mer­ous one-off fea­tures, in­clud­ing a hand­crafted badge dec­o­rated with real beetle wings, it went to a new home for an eye-wa­ter­ing ¤ 750,400 – get­ting on for twice the car’s price when new. Like the One-77, the V12 has de­fied the de­pre­ci­a­tion curve.

Val­ues of the older Za­gato mod­els have largely tracked the (pretty loopy) gen­eral mar­ket for col­lec­tor cars, so it should be ex­pected that they will flat­ten some­what as the mar­ket con­sol­i­dates – but don’t ex­pect the gap be­tween Za­gatos and stan­dard As­tons to nar­row any time soon. Any­body who has pur­chased an in­sur­ance pol­icy in re­cent years knows that pre­mi­ums never seem to come down any more.

Clock­wise from bot­tom left The DB AR1 was an ex­er­cise in style over sub­stance, but that hasn’t damp­ened en­thu­si­asm for it – and you can see why; V12 Za­gato ‘Zero’ (above) sold in Fe­bru­ary for ¤ 750,400; the DB7 Za­gato Coupé has been making waves at auc­tio


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