BUL­LETIN: NEWS & EVENTS

A fam­ily of Za­gatos. Plus DB11 V8, Valkyrie, and the first elec­tric As­ton

VANTAGE - - Contents - WORDS RICHARD MEADEN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY AS­TON MARTIN

FOUR AS­TON MARTIN ZA­GATOS. Let’s just pause for a mo­ment and al­low that to sink in. Four Za­gatos. What be­gan with a strik­ing and dis­creetly in­tro­duced Zagato ver­sion of the Van­quish S coupé has es­ca­lated into an un­prece­dented and quite re­mark­able quar­tet of Van­quish-based Zagato de­signs.

The coupé and Volante fol­low a fa­mil­iar recipe, and are no less de­sir­able for that. How­ever, the newly an­nounced Speed­ster and Shoot­ing Brake edi­tions are ma­jor sur­prises and ut­terly spec­tac­u­lar.

As all will share the same 595bhp V12 un­der­pin­nings of the reg­u­lar Van­quish S (with fine-tun­ing to the damp­ing to suit each car’s char­ac­ter), they prom­ise to be as fab­u­lous to drive as they are to look at. Pric­ing is at the ‘if you have to ask...’ level, but reckon on around £600,000 plus taxes for the Volante and Shoot­ing Brake, and up to £1m for the Speed­ster. But then, ac­cord­ing to AML, they’re all sold any­way.

For Marek Re­ich­man, As­ton Martin’s chief cre­ative of­fi­cer, work­ing with Zagato is an op­por­tu­nity to rel­ish, for the process is as dif­fer­ent and dy­namic as the cars it cre­ates. ‘It’s al­ways a lib­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to work on a Zagato,’ he says. ‘There’s more free­dom. And there’s some­thing spe­cial about two de­sign­ers, two com­pa­nies, com­ing to­gether on a very spe­cial project. We don’t have the con­straints of mod­ern-day pro­duc­tion cars. There is no mar­ket re­search, but there’s al­ways an idea. More than one, ac­tu­ally. This time around we’d al­ready de­cided we were go­ing to do a fam­ily, but we started in­de­pen­dently, with An­drea [Zagato] and my own team do­ing their own sketches. The show-and-tell is the most ex­cit­ing bit. We re­ally want to push each other, so that mo­ment when we see each other’s ideas is a real buzz. It’s all about har­ness­ing that cre­ative ten­sion.

‘All of the Za­gatos are done within such a short time­frame that the de­signs are the essence of the sketch. Very raw, quick, fast. That’s how you keep the ex­cite­ment. It’s an in­stinc­tive, dy­namic process. An­drea de­scribes the re­la­tion­ship

be­tween Zagato and As­ton Martin as the mad­ness within the beauty. We’re try­ing to catch light­ning in a bot­tle.’

There was a time when Za­gatos were the uni­corns of the As­ton line-up. A gift from the gods, if you like. We had to wait more than 25 years af­ter the DB4 GT Zagato be­fore Vic­tor Gauntlett gave us the V8. Then there was a fur­ther 13-year hia­tus un­til 2003’s DB7 Zagato and DB AR1, fol­lowed by an eight-year pause un­til the V12 Zagato in 2011. With just five years – the blink of an eye in Zagato terms – sep­a­rat­ing that car from the re­lease of the first of th­ese new Van­quish-based de­signs, it’s clear Zagato has be­come part of the wider model strat­egy.

It shouldn’t come as a great sur­prise, for few cars cause a stir like Z-badged As­tons. Es­pe­cially in an age when the ap­petite for this kind of ul­tra-low-vol­ume car is at an all-time high. In an ef­fort to main­tain the level of ex­clu­siv­ity, As­ton has kept build-runs small. Nev­er­the­less, once com­pleted, this awe­some four­some still rep­re­sents a to­tal of some 325 cars. Specif­i­cally, that’s 99 each for the coupé, Volante and Shoot­ing Brake, plus 28 Speed­sters. Mi­nus­cule num­bers in the grand scheme of things, but a fig­ure that will al­most dou­ble the num­ber of As­ton Martin Za­gatos built since 1960.

Does this quar­tet col­lec­tively di­lute the im­pact of fu­ture As­ton Martin Za­gatos? Though he’s mind­ful of the risk, Re­ich­man be­lieves not: ‘Za­gatos are the ul­ti­mate col­lectibles. The fu­ture con­cours cars. All we’ve done with th­ese Van­quish-based mod­els is put more of a strat­egy around that no­tion. We haven’t re­leased Zagato mod­els as a fam­ily be­fore, but the idea is not with­out prece­dent. Think back to the DB7 Zagato and DB AR1, or the V8 Zagato coupé and Volante, for ex­am­ple. We’ve sim­ply taken things a few steps fur­ther.

‘Why a fam­ily? Well, many of our cus­tomers want dif­fer­ent things. Some pre­fer the pu­rity of a coupé, but oth­ers love the idea of some­thing more ex­treme, like the Speed­ster. And yes, some of them have or­dered one ex­am­ple of each. There’s al­ways an over-de­mand from our clients and pa­trons. We could eas­ily ful­fil de­mand for more cars than this, but we want Zagato to re­main some­thing very spe­cial. They’re still the rarest of the rare.’

Strate­gic think­ing and model fam­i­lies are not phrases com­monly as­so­ci­ated with the fruits of Car­rozze­ria Zagato. It sounds cal­cu­lat­ing – and is, to a de­gree. But the truth is you’re still more likely to see a shoot­ing star in the night sky than spot any of th­ese Za­gatos on the road.

With Zagato cel­e­brat­ing its cen­te­nary in 2019, we can be sure the oc­ca­sion will be marked by some­thing truly ex­cep­tional. What the mad­ness will bring is any­one’s guess, but we can’t wait to see it.

Above and be­low Speed­ster was about to get its of­fi­cial un­veil­ing in Peb­ble Beach as we went to press. The ‘speed humps’ be­hind the seats are de­signed to mimic the fa­mous Zagato ‘dou­ble bub­ble’ roof on the coupé ver­sion. Only this sketch of the Shoot­ing Brake (be­low) has been re­leased so far. It will re­main a two-seater but with a tail­gate to ac­cess the lug­gage deck. All four Za­gatos will fea­ture the Van­quish S’s 595bhp nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V12 en­gine and Touchtronic III eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion

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