The Truth About Cars » Aston Martin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 20 Mar 2015 17:19:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Aston Martin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Geneva 2015: Aston Martin Vulcan Bows http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-aston-martin-vulcan-bows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-aston-martin-vulcan-bows/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:37:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1012722 Before competition starts in 2016, the highly limited Aston Martin Vulcan track car officially debuted at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show. Only 24 examples of the FIA-certified Vulcans will ever be made, with each one to go for $2.3 million. For that price, one receives a 7-liter naturally aspirated V12 making a minimum of 800 […]

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Before competition starts in 2016, the highly limited Aston Martin Vulcan track car officially debuted at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.

Only 24 examples of the FIA-certified Vulcans will ever be made, with each one to go for $2.3 million. For that price, one receives a 7-liter naturally aspirated V12 making a minimum of 800 horsepower, which is sent to the Michelins in the back through a six-speed sequential gearbox.

Stopping the beast is done through Brembo race calipers mated to carbon ceramic discs, while cornering is helped by Multimatic’s Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve adjustable dampers, anti-roll bars, and push-rod suspension.

The chosen few to pilot the Vulcan will be invited to improve their skills in an intensive driving course involving a few of Aston’s offerings, including the One-77, V12 Vantage S and Vantage GT4, before competing in a one-make series in 2016.

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Geneva 2015: Aston Martin DBX Concept Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-aston-martin-dbx-concept-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-aston-martin-dbx-concept-revealed/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:30:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1012370 Not content to let Tesla have all the fun, the Aston Martin DBX Concept shows its take on an all-electric “high luxury GT” crossover. The design study uses inboard electric motors for each wheel to move the crossover along, each motor powered by lithium sulphur cells. Steering the DBX Concept is done via drive-by-wire, while […]

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Not content to let Tesla have all the fun, the Aston Martin DBX Concept shows its take on an all-electric “high luxury GT” crossover.

The design study uses inboard electric motors for each wheel to move the crossover along, each motor powered by lithium sulphur cells. Steering the DBX Concept is done via drive-by-wire, while braking and energy regeneration is handled via its KERS system.

Four adults can make use of both front and rear cargo spaces on their way to the countryside, while the driver and front passenger can view driving data via the concept’s HUD. LED exterior lighting, rearview cameras, and a black pearl ensemble enhanced with a micro-fine layer of chrome are some of the other features available.

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Geneva 2015: Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-aston-martin-vantage-gt3-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-aston-martin-vantage-gt3-debuts/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:45:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1012074 Following the GT3s from Porsche and Mercedes-AMG, the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is the next one to bow at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show. Each of the 100 Vantage GT3s lost 220 lbs over the standard Vantage S, thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber on items such as the front wings, roof and hood. […]

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Following the GT3s from Porsche and Mercedes-AMG, the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is the next one to bow at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.

Each of the 100 Vantage GT3s lost 220 lbs over the standard Vantage S, thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber on items such as the front wings, roof and hood. Polycarbonate rear windows and a lithium-ion battery further contribute to the weight savings.

Power for the Vantage GT3 comes via a 6-liter V12 pushing 600 horsepower to the rear Michelin Super Sports.

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Geneva 2015: Aston Martin Vulcan Revealed Prior To Global Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/geneva-2015-aston-martin-vulcan-revealed-prior-global-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/geneva-2015-aston-martin-vulcan-revealed-prior-global-debut/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008130 Twenty-four well-heeled gentleman drivers will soon pilot their own Aston Martin Vulcan, the automaker’s newest track-only machine. Power for the Vulcan comes from a naturally aspirated 7-liter V12 pumping over 800 horsepower to the back via a rear mid-mounted Xtrac six-speed sequential-shift transmission. Other features include extensive use of carbon fiber, Brembo racing calipers mounted […]

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Twenty-four well-heeled gentleman drivers will soon pilot their own Aston Martin Vulcan, the automaker’s newest track-only machine.

Power for the Vulcan comes from a naturally aspirated 7-liter V12 pumping over 800 horsepower to the back via a rear mid-mounted Xtrac six-speed sequential-shift transmission. Other features include extensive use of carbon fiber, Brembo racing calipers mounted over carbon ceramic discs, race-spec Michelin tires, driver-adjustable anti-lock braking, variable traction control, and a power-to-weight ratio surpassing those found in FIA GTE cars.

Before the 24 fortunate owners take delivery of their FIA-certified Vulcans, they will offered a chance to gain some seat time behind the wheels of Aston Martin’s other road and track offerings — like the V12 Vantage S, One-77 and Vantage GT4 — in an intensive training program. Per special projects and motorsports chief David King, the 24 will then have the opportunity to take part in a series of track days in 2016 “on some of the world’s most famous and glamorous race circuits.”

The Vulcan is set to officially bow at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show next week before making its track debut later in the year, and was produced in a partnership with Multimatic, who will also be in charge of assembling the Ford GT next year.

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Aston Martin Plans To Raise Financing For Portfolio Expansion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/aston-martin-plans-raise-financing-portfolio-expansion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/aston-martin-plans-raise-financing-portfolio-expansion/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961225 Aston Martin is preparing to crowdfund the old-fashioned way — shares and bonds — its portfolio expansion, per sources close to the automaker. Reuters reports the funds will be used to expand the Aston portfolio to include crossovers, hybrids and premium sedans, as well as add three years to the company’s ongoing recovery plan, with […]

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Aston Martin is preparing to crowdfund the old-fashioned way — shares and bonds — its portfolio expansion, per sources close to the automaker.

Reuters reports the funds will be used to expand the Aston portfolio to include crossovers, hybrids and premium sedans, as well as add three years to the company’s ongoing recovery plan, with the planned deadline to come in 2020. The fundraising plan — based on debt- or equity-raising options made to current investors — would bring in £100 million – £150 million ($156 million – $234 million USD).

The news comes as Aston Martin bids farewell to 2014, which began with a recall of 17,590 units over counterfeit accelerator pedals from a Chinese supplier. Last month, the automaker was granted an exemption from United States safety regs for the DB9 and Vantage. It also gained a new CEO this year, when Andy Palmer left Renault-Nissan to take up where Ulrich Bez left off upon retirement in 2013.

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Aston Martin Gets U.S. Government Exemption on Safety Standards http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/aston-martin-gets-u-s-government-exemption-safety-standards/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/aston-martin-gets-u-s-government-exemption-safety-standards/#comments Sun, 02 Nov 2014 21:14:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=939465 Aston Martin won a crucial exemption from the U.S. government regarding safety standards, allowing them to continue selling their line-up of sports cars in America. By denying an exemption to Aston Martin, the government would have effectively prevented Aston Martin from selling their products in the United States market, as the cost of retrofitting or […]

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Aston Martin won a crucial exemption from the U.S. government regarding safety standards, allowing them to continue selling their line-up of sports cars in America.

By denying an exemption to Aston Martin, the government would have effectively prevented Aston Martin from selling their products in the United States market, as the cost of retrofitting or redesigning their cars to meet standards would be too expensive. In a statement released by NHTSA, the regulator declared

“The basis for the grant is that compliance would cause substantial economic hardship to a low volume manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard.”

According to Reuters, Aston Martin sold just 4,200 cars worldwide last year. The exemptions will continue until summer, 2017 at the latest.

 

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Aston Martin Gains Some Footing In 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/aston-martin-gains-footing-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/aston-martin-gains-footing-2013/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927970 Aston Martin saw its pretax loss fall by a third in 2013 to £25.4 million ($41 million) over the same period in 2012. Reuters reports the drop was backed by an 12.6 percent increase in revenue in 2013, topping out at £519 million ($839.5 million). Sales also increased that year, with 4,200 units sold worldwide […]

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Aston Martin saw its pretax loss fall by a third in 2013 to £25.4 million ($41 million) over the same period in 2012.

Reuters reports the drop was backed by an 12.6 percent increase in revenue in 2013, topping out at £519 million ($839.5 million). Sales also increased that year, with 4,200 units sold worldwide over 2012’s 3,800.

Though still on shaky ground — especially in light of U.S. safety regs threatening to block further imports, as well as a February 2014 recall of 17,690 over counterfeit plastic parts from a Chinese supplier — the automaker is moving toward its goal of profitability, with new CEO and former Nissan exec Andy Palmer leading the way. According to CFO Hanno Kirner, that goal would be reached as early as 2016, thanks to a £500 million ($808.8 million) investment program.

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Nissan Declined Stake In Aston Martin As Early As 2012 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nissan-declined-stake-aston-martin-early-2012/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nissan-declined-stake-aston-martin-early-2012/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 10:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909066 Prior to becoming Aston Martin’s new CEO, former Nissan senior exec Andy Palmer proposed to the automaker to buy a stake in AM, only for Nissan to decline. Reuters reports Palmer brought up the issue Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in 2012 and 2013, with one insider claiming the company “looked carefully at the proposal” before […]

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Prior to becoming Aston Martin’s new CEO, former Nissan senior exec Andy Palmer proposed to the automaker to buy a stake in AM, only for Nissan to decline.

Reuters reports Palmer brought up the issue Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in 2012 and 2013, with one insider claiming the company “looked carefully at the proposal” before rejecting the idea. Said insider declined to explain the proposal or the reasoning behind the rejection, as did a representative for the company.

Meanwhile, Palmer’s new role as AM’s CEO may lead to more cooperation between the premium automaker and Daimler AG, the latter already in possession of a 4 percent stake in the former while also providing engines and electronics to Aston’s offerings. Palmer helped Daimler and Nissan’s Infiniti develop a similar relationship, resulting in a joint-venture on a plant in Mexico, as well as a family of engines to be shared with the Q50 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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Andy Palmer Named Aston Martin CEO, Leaving Infiniti Without Leadership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/andy-palmer-named-aston-martin-ceo-leaving-infiniti-without-leadership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/andy-palmer-named-aston-martin-ceo-leaving-infiniti-without-leadership/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:05:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904929 Longtime Nissan executive Andy Palmer will join Aston Martin as its new CEO, effective September 15th. This bodes well for the struggling boutique sports car maker, but leaves Infiniti with a critical leadership vacuum. Palmer’s appointment at Aston Martin brings considerable experience working with both luxury brands and in partnership with Daimler. Aston Martin is […]

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Longtime Nissan executive Andy Palmer will join Aston Martin as its new CEO, effective September 15th. This bodes well for the struggling boutique sports car maker, but leaves Infiniti with a critical leadership vacuum.

Palmer’s appointment at Aston Martin brings considerable experience working with both luxury brands and in partnership with Daimler. Aston Martin is expected to use engines from Daimler’s high-performance AMG brand in future, and may co-operate further with the German auto maker.

For Renault-Nissan, this is the second high profile departure in recent months. Palmer was filling in for recently departed Infiniti executive Johan de Nysschen, who left for Cadillac in July. Infiniti will now become the responsibility of North America head Jose Munoz, with a permanent replacement expected to arrive at a later date. Renault Executive Vice President Philippe Klein will replace Palmer as Chief Planning Officer and assume Palmer’s seat on the board.

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Aston Martin Could Leave US Without Federal Crash Exemption Approval http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/aston-martin-leave-us-without-federal-crash-exemption-approval/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/aston-martin-leave-us-without-federal-crash-exemption-approval/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 04:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=893890 Should you desire an Aston Martin in the near future, you may need to make your purchase sooner than later if the automaker fails to live up to the federal government’s newest expectations. Bloomberg reports Aston Martin stores will likely suffer financial hardships should the DB9 and Vantage are no longer made for sale in […]

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Should you desire an Aston Martin in the near future, you may need to make your purchase sooner than later if the automaker fails to live up to the federal government’s newest expectations.

Bloomberg reports Aston Martin stores will likely suffer financial hardships should the DB9 and Vantage are no longer made for sale in the United States due to both vehicles’ failure to comply with new regulations regarding side-impact crashes. This would result in every dealership closing their doors barring an exemption for both vehicles, as explained by U.S. dealer advisory panel chairman James Walker in his petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

The financial viability of Aston Martin dealers is very much in question. If dealers make the decision to shutter the franchise, a very likely outcome, the impact on employment is significant.

Aston Martin sent exemption requests last year for the DB9 through August of 2016, and the Vantage the following August. Next-gen models of both vehicles have been delayed due to financial issues.

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Aston-Daimler Partnership Deepens With Component Agreement, Increased Holdings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/aston-daimler-partnership-deepens-component-agreement-increased-holdings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/aston-daimler-partnership-deepens-component-agreement-increased-holdings/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 10:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=883521 Daimler’s partnership with Aston Martin is growing, as the former will supply electric and electronic components to the latter for a 1 percent increase in holdings. Bloomberg reports Daimler’s total holdings will come to 5 percent as part of the supply deal, which in turn is part of a larger agreement where Mercedes AMG will […]

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Daimler’s partnership with Aston Martin is growing, as the former will supply electric and electronic components to the latter for a 1 percent increase in holdings.

Bloomberg reports Daimler’s total holdings will come to 5 percent as part of the supply deal, which in turn is part of a larger agreement where Mercedes AMG will supply V8s for future Aston models. Aston Martin is also planning on using Mercedes tech to develop an SUV for sale by 2017 at the earliest.

Other shareholders of the largely independent premium automaker include London-based investment firm Investindustrial, and Kuwaiti-based Investment Dar Co. and Adeem Investment Co.

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Aston Martin Revives The Lagonda, By Invitation Only http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/aston-martin-revives-the-lagona-by-invitation-only/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/aston-martin-revives-the-lagona-by-invitation-only/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:05:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873266   If you want an Aston Martin Lagonda, you must meet two requirements Get an invite from Aston Martin Live in the Middle East The new Lagonda will share its underpinnings and V12 engine with other Astons, but the sales and marketing process will be quite different. Orders will only be taken from select clients […]

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If you want an Aston Martin Lagonda, you must meet two requirements

  1. Get an invite from Aston Martin
  2. Live in the Middle East

The new Lagonda will share its underpinnings and V12 engine with other Astons, but the sales and marketing process will be quite different.

Orders will only be taken from select clients who receive an invitation from Aston Martin. The Lagonda will be marketed in the Middle East only, and each car will be hand tailored to the buyer’s taste. It should also cost a bloody fortune.

One reason that bespoke cars are so popular in the region is that they are a rare chance for individuals to express themselves in a society that enforces conformity in most other areas of life. With dress, behavior, social customs and other outlets for expression under strict control, the automobile is one item that can be customized to reflect one’s personal tastes, though previously, this has manifested itself in option packages, paintwork or bespoke interior. This is the first time we’ve seen an all-new car conceived this this specific market.

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Aston Martin Teaming Up With Daimler For Premium SUV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/aston-martin-teaming-up-with-daimler-for-premium-suv/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/aston-martin-teaming-up-with-daimler-for-premium-suv/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 19:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785633 First Bentley, now Aston Martin wants an SUV for their lineup, with plans to team up with Daimler to make that vision reality. Bloomberg reports the plan is related to a 5 percent stake in Aston Martin sold to Daimler last year in return for sharing technology with the English automaker, such as Mercedes AMG […]

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First Bentley, now Aston Martin wants an SUV for their lineup, with plans to team up with Daimler to make that vision reality.

Bloomberg reports the plan is related to a 5 percent stake in Aston Martin sold to Daimler last year in return for sharing technology with the English automaker, such as Mercedes AMG building V8 engines with Aston in the latter’s upcoming models.

Currently, talks are at the early stages, with signs of the new SUV not expected to come for another three years at the earliest. Aston is also debating whether or not to build a crossover using its own technology.

As for Aston overall, the automaker aims to sell 7,000 cars annually by 2016 by catering to demand in North American, South American and Asian markets.

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Say Hello To 144 Month Financing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/say-hello-to-144-month-financing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/say-hello-to-144-month-financing/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 13:14:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=779409 One year ago, we reported on the alarming trend of 97 month loans for new car sales. It turns out that these have now been supplanted by a substantially longer term. Say hello to the 144 month loan. TTAC has actually known about the 144 month loan for some time. As we discovered, certain fringe […]

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One year ago, we reported on the alarming trend of 97 month loans for new car sales. It turns out that these have now been supplanted by a substantially longer term. Say hello to the 144 month loan.

TTAC has actually known about the 144 month loan for some time. As we discovered, certain fringe elements in the exotic car financing business have been offering these ultra-long terms, though with fairly stringent conditions (a high credit score and a substantial down payment).

Automotive News recounts the tale of one customer, a “business consultant” who financed a $300,000 Aston Martin on a 12 year loan

“…the Aston Martin buyer is a successful businessperson who made a hefty down payment, says a staffer at the Aston Martin dealership, who wished to remain anonymous. But stretching the amount financed over 144 months offered additional flexibility that the customer appreciated. And the buyer plans to pay the 12-year loan off early.”

Aside from the questionable judgement involved in financing any depreciating asset, let alone a fragile British exotic car, over a 12 year term, the sheer amount of time must be put in context. 12 years ago, the DB9 wasn’t even out yet. The Vanquish had barely been released. That period of time is an eternity in automotive terms – think about the difference between a 2002 Accord and a 2014 Accord – and by the time 2026 rolls around, the Aston in question will be a stale-looking money pit at best.

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Ur-Turn: The World Of Counterfeit Plastics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/ur-turn-the-world-of-counterfeit-plastics/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/ur-turn-the-world-of-counterfeit-plastics/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=737753 TTAC reader Dean Trombetta is back, giving an insider’s look at a widely reported but mis-understood story involving automotive plastics. Last week, Aston Martin announced the recall of more than 17,000 vehicles for defective throttle pedals. The term “counterfeit plastic”, was frequently mentioned in the story, and for those not in the plastics business, the […]

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TTAC reader Dean Trombetta is back, giving an insider’s look at a widely reported but mis-understood story involving automotive plastics.

Last week, Aston Martin announced the recall of more than 17,000 vehicles for defective throttle pedals. The term “counterfeit plastic”, was frequently mentioned in the story, and for those not in the plastics business, the term may seem confusing. We usually associate the term “counterfeit” with consumer goods, specifically luxury items like watches, handbags and women’s accessories. Despite being in the plastics industry, I wasn’t sure what initial reports were referencing. But further research has shed some more light on the matter, and there seem to be two possible scenarios at play here.

Typically, when a new plastic part is designed, the engineers pick a type of plastic for the part. They do not typically specify a specific grade, just a type such as “nylon 6/6″ or “ABS”. The blueprints are drawn for the part and a material specification is put on the print to call out what material is to be used.

The engineers at the OEMs have dozens and sometimes hundreds of material specifications that have been written over the years that provide detailed requirements for a plastic material such as UV resistance, tensile strength etc. When the tooling is complete, sample parts are molded with a material that meets the specification, and these initial parts are submitted to the OEM in what is referred to as a Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) package.

This package includes the parts and supporting documentation proving that the materials used are able to meet the specification on the print, and that the part has the correct dimensions. Once the package is approved by the OEM and production begins, the supplier is not allowed to change anything without submitting a new PPAP. This means that the supplier is not allowed to just willy-nilly switch the material to a cheaper grade without getting approval first.

GM, Ford and Chrysler have “approved source lists” attached to each material specification that actually call out specific grades of plastic that can be used. Upon getting the print, the supplier looks up the specification in a database and it tells them to use DuPont grade 123 or Dow grade 456. Strangely, GM Ford and Chrysler are really the only ones that do this. Virtually every other automaker does it differently. Only appearance parts and parts deemed critical have approved sources and all other parts have a specification only and the supplier is responsible for making sure the material they choose meets the specification. Suppliers to these other companies are still not allowed to switch materials without submitting a new PPAP after production begins.

However, for some suppliers, the temptation to use cheaper materials is too difficult to resist. They might switch to a cheaper grade and make sure that the new material still meets the specification or they might just hope that it meets. If a supplier gets caught using a “non-approved” material, they could get in some trouble and if this is discovered during a recall situation, things can really get ugly. This scenario is not that uncommon and is what I thought may have happened to Aston.

However, after hearing that representatives from DuPont were involved in the Aston Martin, I think something else might have happened.

There are currently over 60,000 grades of plastic available commercially. These materials all have different properties. There are a relative few chemical companies that actually convert petroleum distillate to plastic but most plastic parts are not made of this stuff. The raw material is sent to a compounder that melts the plastic down and adds all sorts of ingredients such as color, heat stabilizers, impact modifiers, UV stabilizers, reinforcements such as fiberglass and numerous other additives.

There are thousands of these compounders all over the world that take basic “virgin” plastic and convert it into the materials that are used to make automotive parts. Some of these compounders are very small companies. Often these compounders will get a sample of another manufacturers material and reverse engineer it. They can often find out what the properties are and make an “equivalent” grade. This is not illegal assuming that they are not violating any patents, and patents on plastic materials are exceedingly rare.

The line gets crossed when someone makes a material and then labels it using someone else’s trade name and grade number. To be fair, sometimes this happens innocently. Some grades of plastic such as DuPont Zytel 70G33 are so ubiquitous, that the grade has become synonymous with that type of material, in the way that brand names like Kleenex, Xerox and Coke are synonymous with the generic product. I run into many people that refer to all acetal material as “Delrin” which is actually another DuPont trade name. I personally believe that many compounders will refer to their own product with a brand name out of laziness, rather than any intent to deceive other parties.

Sometimes, the intentions are not so innocent. There was a big case in the 90’s that involved a company selling generic acetal resin and labeling it Celcon M90 which was and still is a trademark of a large manufacturer called Ticona. This company was even making counterfeit bags and boxes and providing fake test reports for the material. The owner of this company ended up serving 5 years in prison.

In the Aston Martin example, we can see how the idea of a “counterfeit” plastic part came to fruition. A Chinese compounder likely wanted to make an equivalent to the aforementioned Zytel 70G33, a common plastic for automotive applications. Ironically, the raw nylon to make this plastic has to be purchased from DuPont or BASF. Other additives like glass fiber, black pigment and copper based heat stabilizer can be purchased elsewhere.

While any given outfit can theoretically make this blend, doing it cheaper than DuPont is next to impossible. DuPont’s size enables them buy all of the ingredients at a much lower cost. In order to entice the supplier to buy the “generic equivalent” from your own small outfit, you have to cut a few corners to make up the cost difference. That means less heat stabilizer,  a cheaper coupling agent and even usng scrap nylon parts that are recycled into the mix.

All of a sudden, the material that might cost $3.50/lb from DuPont can be sold for 50 cents on the dollar. Just put the material in fake DuPont bags and provide some DuPont paper work that you made with a pirated version of Microsoft Word and you’re in business and pray that you don’t get discovered. This time, they ended up in a product that they had no business being in – a high-dollar exotic car.

 

 

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Daimler to Acquire Stake in Aston Martin in Exchange For AMG Engine Tech http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/daimler-to-acquire-stake-in-aston-martin-in-exchange-for-amg-engine-tech/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/daimler-to-acquire-stake-in-aston-martin-in-exchange-for-amg-engine-tech/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 10:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=684514 In a non-cash deal, Daimler AG will supply Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. with technology and engine development in exchange for as much as a 5% non-voting stake in the British luxury sports car maker. The AMG performance division at Mercedes-Benz will jointly develop engines with Aston Martin for AM’s next generation models. Daimler also will get […]

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Aston Martin's current engines are assembled at a Ford facility near Cologne, Germany.

Aston Martin’s current engines are assembled at a Ford facility near Cologne, Germany.

In a non-cash deal, Daimler AG will supply Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. with technology and engine development in exchange for as much as a 5% non-voting stake in the British luxury sports car maker. The AMG performance division at Mercedes-Benz will jointly develop engines with Aston Martin for AM’s next generation models. Daimler also will get a non-voting observer on Aston Martin’s board of directors. Aston Martin currently buys engines from Ford Motor Company, an artifact of the time when Ford owned AM. The Aston Martin V12 is based on the Ford Duratec V6 and Aston’s V8 engine is based on the Jaguar V8, funded by Ford when it owned that luxury marque as well.

“This agreement is a real win-win for both sides,” Tobias Moers, head of Mercedes-AMG, said in a statement cited by Bloomberg.

Aston Martin is currently the only the only global luxury car maker that’s not part of a larger manufacturing group with which it can share development and component costs so it’s looking to control development costs of the new models.

In addition AMG supplying engine development, the companies are looking into other possible areas of cooperation including Daimler providing Aston Martin with electronic components . Today’s agreement formalizes a tentative deal reached in July. Earlier in the year, Aston Martin announced that it was going to invest 500 million pounds ($819 million) on its operations over the next four years. The century old car maker sold 3,800 cars last year.

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Aston Martin Cygnet Sent To The Tower Of London http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/aston-martin-cygnet-sent-to-the-tower-of-london/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/aston-martin-cygnet-sent-to-the-tower-of-london/#comments Tue, 01 Oct 2013 18:18:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=532873 With just 143 examples registered in the UK, Aston Martin has quietly dropped the Cygnet city car – based on the Toyota iQ. According to UK mag Autocar, Aston Martin will also not be re-entering this space, and will focus on what it does best: making high end performance cars. Originally conceived as a way to […]

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With just 143 examples registered in the UK, Aston Martin has quietly dropped the Cygnet city car – based on the Toyota iQ. According to UK mag Autocar, Aston Martin will also not be re-entering this space, and will focus on what it does best: making high end performance cars. Originally conceived as a way to meet strict European emissions rules, the Cygnet failed to meet Aston’s initial sales projections of 4000 units annually.

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Aston Martin & AMG Announce Technical Partnership, Daimler to Buy Up to 5% Stake in AM http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/aston-martin-amg-announce-technical-partnership-daimler-to-buy-up-to-5-stake-in-am/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/aston-martin-amg-announce-technical-partnership-daimler-to-buy-up-to-5-stake-in-am/#comments Fri, 26 Jul 2013 11:30:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497092 As part of an announced technical partnership between AMG, the performance subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz and Britain’s Aston Martin, Daimler will buy up to a 5% interest in the luxury performance car maker. The agreement will give AM “significant access” to the technical resources of both AMG and its parent. Aston Martin will use those resources […]

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As part of an announced technical partnership between AMG, the performance subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz and Britain’s Aston Martin, Daimler will buy up to a 5% interest in the luxury performance car maker. The agreement will give AM “significant access” to the technical resources of both AMG and its parent. Aston Martin will use those resources to develop V8 engines and have access to Mercedes Benz’s electronic architecture and components.

Aston Martin product development director Ian Minards said, “We have selected AMG specifically as the basis for this powertrain development process.”

On behalf of AMG, the performance brand’s chief, Ola Kaellenius said that the technical partnership is “proof of AMG’s technological and performance expertise, and a real win-win situation for both sides.”

Aston Martin’s engines are currently supplied by Ford, which formerly owned AM, at a Cologne, Germany plant. Aston Martin’s V12 engine is based on the architecture of Ford’s Duratec V6 engine. Aston’s V8 is a hand assembled version of the Jaguar AJ V8 engine, a practice that started when Ford owned both of those companies.

Automotive analysts say that the deal helps Aston Martin avoid the substantial costs of not just engine development, but also electronic systems, which have become increasingly important in the auto industry.

For Daimler, it gets to amortize some AMG costs and gives it a foothold to take control of Aston Martin later should its current investors want to pull out. Moody’s currently rates Aston Martin at B3, non-investment grade. Last year, the Investindustrial group of Italy bought a 37.5% share in the company for $241 million, through a capital increase negotiated with majority owner Investment Dar, a sovereign-wealth fund of Kuwait.

Aston Martin is currently the only premier luxury car maker that is not owned by a larger automotive group. In January, Aston Martin announced plans to invest spend $765 over the next four years to keep pace with VAG owned Bentley and Fiat owned Ferrari and Maserati. The UK company has had a rough go of it since the economic crisis of 2008, with a 9% drop in profits in 2012, and a 10% decline in sales, to ~3,800 cars.

So far, Daimler and Aston Martin have only signed a letter of intent, with definitive agreements to be inked later this year, pending regulatory approval. Daimler will buy the 5% stake in stages, depending on the progress of the technical partnership, and its stock will be non-voting shares.

 

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Review: 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/review-2014-aston-martin-rapide-s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/review-2014-aston-martin-rapide-s/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 12:18:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494522 The penultimate set of bends along the road course at Atlanta Motorsports Park, located in God’s own country about an hour outside of the big city, is a serpentine testament to all of the things that make motoring exciting. Triple-digit speeds approach quickly. The checkered start line quickly becomes a blurred memory. Warm tires grip […]

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The penultimate set of bends along the road course at Atlanta Motorsports Park, located in God’s own country about an hour outside of the big city, is a serpentine testament to all of the things that make motoring exciting. Triple-digit speeds approach quickly. The checkered start line quickly becomes a blurred memory. Warm tires grip the tarmac as beads of perspiration mount for the upcoming lap.

 

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Barreling down the track’s final straight – the only section of the track devoid of sharp changes in camber and elevation – induces a childlike sense of wonderment, not unlike that of being directed by a sled down a steep, snow-covered hill. In an ordinary beater, there’s nothing more fun than testing the limits of grip and adhesion. When the track day chariot is the latest iteration of Aston Martin’s six-figure supersedan, the 550-horsepower Rapide S, clenched jaws and white knuckles are mandatory accessories to the dopiest of grins.

The opportunity to try out the brand’s revised four-door coupe on a private, purpose-built racetrack invited a unique opportunity to experience the Rapide S in a way that only a handful of owners might. A crowded, suburban mall parking lot might have been a more realistic test of the Rapide S’s workaday capabilities, but exposure on the track was to demonstrate the most significant upgrades to last year’s model. Key among them is an increase of 80 horsepower and 14 lb-ft. of torque, which give an unnecessary but welcome bump to the 6.0-liter V-12’s already massive power. The last time anyone tried to buy six liters of anything this potent, Mayor Bloomberg made it illegal.

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Along the bends of AMP, this power translated to delightfully quick forward motion, delivered via a conventional, six-speed automatic gearbox. The engine and transmission pairing, devoid of the gimmickry of a dual-clutch transmission, was smooth and fast-acting. Well-heeled buyers will likely be swayed by the ease and relative simplicity of operation as well as the symphonic rush of snaps, crackles, and pops from the exhaust pipe – the humble brag-equivalent of a less than subtle machine.

Aston Martin claim that the Rapide S has a near-perfect weight distribution, and it showed, while hurtling a two-ton sedan along the undulating corners of the track. Roll and dive were neatly controlled and maintained, even in tight spots, and the adjustable suspension was useful in soaking up what few abrasions lay in the tarmac. For those who will use their Rapide S on runs to high-end grocery stores, Comfort mode changes the damping to allow the big Aston to glide over the pavement; in Track mode, the adaptive shocks hunker the Rapide S down.

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On the track, the Rapide S handled brilliantly. Remember that straightaway from a couple of paragraphs ago? In most other high-performance sedans, the sheer mass and proportions would dissuade owners from attending a track day designed to toss them around and plow, head-first, toward a retaining wall. The shared roots of the DB9 are evident here, especially in Track Mode. Be advised that turning Track Mode off is a good idea for your daily commute, lest you spill your latte all over your Incotex trousers.

The most noticeable difference is the one that most drivers will see in their rear-view mirrors: a restyled front grille that now comprises a massive, one-piece unit. The new grille is entirely fitting, regardless of the disapproving opinions of armchair journalists and jaded potential purchasers. Without pretense, this generation of Aston Martins, from the V8 Vantage to the Vanquish, exudes the elegance.The Rapide S is no different, and continues to seduce with elegant character lines that sweep from the front bumpers to the rear hip lines.

The interior receives minimal changes. The hand-sewn, hand-stitched, white glove-treated interior of the outgoing model is retained, along with the navigation system which is frustrating to operate The button-laden center stack, and standard Bang and Olufsen sound system also stick around. The entire cabin smells of a well-treated baseball glove, and not coincidentally, fits the driver and three passengers like one. Much has already been made about the rear bucket seats, and entry into them and egress from them. Put simply, they are more than sufficient for short trips, even for full-size adults. But buyers in this luxury segment have other options, if commuting takes precedence over performance, namely the Bentley Flying Spur and the Porsche Panamera Turbo.

And that’s the overall message driven home by the Rapide S: no amount of thrust was sublimated for the sake of driver and passenger comfort. It strikes a unique balance of sportiness and luxury in a segment ramping up, once again, thanks to signs of an improving economy. On and off the track, the sound and the fury of the V-12 will make happy buyers fall in love with the Rapide S on a regular basis. Bolstered by the full complement of luxury, and wrapped in a shapely cocktail dress, the Rapide S exemplifies the rare case of being all things to all people — if those people are a select few.

Disclaimer: Aston Martin provided flights, meals and accommodations to and from the Atlanta track day.

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Vellum Venom: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/vellum-venom-2013-ford-fusion-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/vellum-venom-2013-ford-fusion-hybrid/#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=492386 Aside from the fame, fortune and talent, my design school stylings were criticized much like the early works of one Mister Lenny Kravitz.  I felt, as idiotic as it seems now, both of us were pigeonholed for our unabashed use of “influence” in our art. Kravitz overcame. I left the College for Creative Studies to […]

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Aside from the fame, fortune and talent, my design school stylings were criticized much like the early works of one Mister Lenny Kravitz.  I felt, as idiotic as it seems now, both of us were pigeonholed for our unabashed use of “influence” in our art. Kravitz overcame. I left the College for Creative Studies to pursue a less interesting career.  A career that makes me travel. With rental cars.

How fitting that I’d be blessed (cursed?) with The Son of Aston: the Ford Fusion Hybrid for 8 days and 800 miles. 

 

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This was my constant companion from Oklahoma City to Kansas City.  The Texas plate made me feel more at home while avoiding a horrible storm that pummeled the city of Moore, but that beautifully disgusting Aston Martin grille was a constant reminder that I couldn’t be a car designer while THIS actually made production.

So beautiful, yet so offensive.  Somewhere between Tulsa and the Kansas border, I decided that there’s simply no fv*king way this facade would get an “A” in a design school’s studio review.

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, that’s for sure.

 

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There are some vehicles that look overstyled when you mirror the elements from left to right.  The Fusion isn’t busy, it’s downright perfect.  Every crease and muscular fold compliments the other.  The powerdome hood is too cool for any family sedan, the bumper cover is creased to perfectly compliment the grille, and the headlights sweep far back to give an aggressive appearance. And the lower valence’s speed holes add race car style without looking like an afterthought. (cough, Camry SE)

The Fusion looks expensive and assertive.  There’s so much attention to detail presented here!  Question is, how much of that detail was already hashed out by Aston Martin?  And can we approve of this?

 

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Dare I say it, the headlights look BETTER than the pods presented on the Aston Martin from whence this schnoz came from.  From this angle, the Fusion looks like a low slung sports car, not a boxy sedan sitting as tall as a CUV.

 

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Light absolutely dances on the Fusion’s bumper.  The subtle bends turn the sunlight into logical extensions of line that doesn’t technically exist…but they somehow do.  The line I’m pointing to blends nicely into the powerdome hood only inches behind. The details never cease to amaze on Ford’s Fusion.

 

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Even the beveled silver border with recessed blue oval looks far more expensive than any other corporate logo at this price point. Damn.

 

 

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Many of those logical lines in the front bumper sweep back into this power dome hood. And the plateau is far from a simple square or trapezoid in cross-section: as you can tell from the different grade of shadowing, the Fusion’s dome has (some of) the flair of a late-model 7-series BMW.

 

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The fluted grille reminds me of my first car, a 1965 Ford Galaxie. Perhaps it’s a hat-tip to the Norelco chrome grille of the first Fusion. The detailing is absolutely stunning: this is Cadillac worthy.

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Surprisingly, the lower valence’s grille is just as precisely designed…just without the chrome plating.  Even the teeth’s bends and the frame’s shape compliments the main grille.

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Of course they match for a reason. Ford even added a little crease in the bumper to make sure you noticed how both grilles “talk” to each other. Nice.

(Disregard the bug splatter, I wasn’t gonna wash a rental car just to make YOU happy!)

 

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The lower valence has a sporty “body kit” feel to it, without being tacked on like many modern Toyota products.  Ford has something to prove in this market, and prove it they do. Even the scalloped area near the lower grille looks like a far more expensive car.

 

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Luckily the solid black plastic panel around the fog light brings us back to reality. Nice touch with the chrome ring’d fog light, however.

 

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While most new vehicles are finally abandoning the googly-eyed, oversized plasti-chrome headlights from the last decade, the Fusion does it the best.  Just the right amount of squinty, never small enough to get lost on this fairly large face…from any angle.

 

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Massive power dome hood is…massive!  Only now does this front end look more like a boxy, modern FWD sedan and not something from Aston Martin. Note how much painted fender there is relative to the front wheel.  Things are getting chunky!

That said, I must compliment Ford on the transition from sexy Aston Martin to boring Camry-competitor.  This transition shows great attention to detail.

15By the way, I saw plenty of other rental cars during my travels.  The only one I really wanted besides the Fusion was a damn Crown Vic Kia Optima.  Note how both family sedans have a somewhat bullet-ish nose, but one doesn’t look like a Chinese knock-off of an Aston Martin.

 

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This Fusion Hybrid sported 17″ wheels that wouldn’t look out of place on a baseline, super cheap to lease BMW sedan. Too bad the nose couldn’t move forward and downward…like the Aston Martin from whence it came. Sadly, nerdy family sedans are just that.

 

18Welcome to Tallsville: population, this guy. The Fusion’s 17″ hoops are positively lost in the height and bulk of the body.  The fenders need a good 6″ of length to justify that nose. The space between the cowl and the front wheel (dash-to-axle) is short and static.  Which kinda ruins everything: the A-pillar obviously wants to begin at a point between the cowl and front wheel.  Too bad it can’t flow right…because this chassis isn’t shaped like a Crown Vic an Aston Martin.

All the sculpturing of the Aston-inspired nose is gone…or is it?

 

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Like modern BMWs, the Fusion creates many layers that hope to keep you from noticing its lofty height. With all this real estate, the good car designers make something that catches the light, plays with it, and fascinates the onlooker. Since demanding the cowl of a Panther Chassis is stupid even by my brain’s distorted standards, what we see here ain’t half bad.

 

 

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Oh, except for that clumsy and fat A-pillar.  And the DLO fail.  Demanding the cowl (and resultant A-pillar) of a Panther would be nice, as it wouldn’t mean we’d need a black plastic triangle (with chrome trim!) to give the illusion that the greenhouse (the glass area) is sleeker than it is in reality.

Even worse, there’s a fixed vent window in the door.  Nothing wrong with that on the Aston, because it has a far more “Panther Like” cowl and A-pillar. We can’t expect the Fusion to have a DLO as lovely as an Aston, or a 2004 Nissan Versa Hatchback.

 

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It sure is a pity, that your DLO fail couldn’t be a 2004 Nissan Versa hatchback instead. But from here, the short (width) and tall (height) of the Fusion’s dash-to-axle ratio could branch out into a vehicle that doesn’t try too hard to be sporty, swoopy.

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These fancy heated,  bi-focal’d mirrors not only look cool, they definitely help with visibility.  A good thing, since the greenhouse of this faux-Aston is pretty horrible when it comes to avoiding highway traffic. I felt like a kid in a school bus…which isn’t unique to the Fusion in this class, of course.

 

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The different planes and textures of the side view mirrors were fun to analyze in the hotel parking lot.  I only wish the signal light was flush, sharing the same external plane of the silver painted housing.

 

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Everything is fun here.  There’s plenty of surface tension in the fold below the glass work, and there’s a subtle yet speedy crease near the bottom that keeps this tall vehicle from looking static.  It works, mostly because it does the job without looking busy.

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The door’s stamping gives extra visual excitement to the form presented by the handle.  The “30-60-90 triangle” look of the lower door handle area compliments the actual door handle, unlike the amorphus blob presented in same area by many other vehicles.  It looks like it’s dying for an old school key lock! Me likey.

 

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Wasn’t too thrilled about the slop in the plastic door handle itself.  And this wasn’t an abused rental…at least not at 1200 miles.

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The Lincoln-Mercury fanboi of the 1980s within me totally adores Ford’s new keyless entry interface. Flush, completely invisible until it’s needed: a logical extension of the flush-button’d 1980 Thunderbird that started it all. Too bad I couldn’t find the code to use it.  I checked the trunk hinges for a 5-digit code like a proper Dearborn Man would…until I realized it hasn’t been there in decades, either. Rats.

 

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Aside from the need for 20+ inch rims to put this body in proportion, this is a surprisingly sleek C-pillar and rear door. There’s a big window in lieu of DLO fail, the hard folds from the center section are starting to fade away, and the ever-so-gentle bend of the rear door’s cutline near the rear wheel: all are the marks of a well planned design.

My only concern is the harsh fold around the wheel arches: a more organic bend would keep one’s eyes from fixating on the oversized wheel arches and undersized wheels.

 

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The big plastic pillar needed for the rear window to roll down is a nice, shiny one piece affair.  Good enough.

 

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There’s a mild taper in the C-pillar, and a shocking amount of sculpture in the quarter panels and rear doors.  From this angle, the Fusion is just a two-tone paint job away from being an optimistic 1950s Jet Age design!

 

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This is a faaaaaast C-pillar.  It’s lovely to behold, unless you’re in the driver’s seat. Then you curse it for blocking everything in sight.

Much like the front bumper, notice how light and shadow dance in different shades at the top of the (upper) C-pillar, in the gentle bend of the (lower) C-pillar’s taper as it blends into the hard edge in the middle of the body.

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Also note that the fuel filler door is smack dab in the middle of the crease.  While not offensive, illogical, or asymmetrical, the door looks a bit silly with such a strong crease in it.

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Our man Ronnie already covered this quality control snafu, and it’s sad to see he wasn’t lying.  I love how many modern cars use “floating” rear glass with no fat black gasket, but what if they don’t finish the metal underneath to the same level of brilliance as every other panel?

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The CHMSL lives within a unique polished black container that juts out from the natural sweep of the roofline. This looks cheap and unrefined, like the bad old days of pre-Bankruptcy General Motors designs. (except with better materials, ‘natch.)Why the CHMSL can’t be as flush and invisible as the keyless entry keypad is beyond me. Put it inside the cabin like everyone else!

 

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Ain’t technology grand?  This wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful if there was a big rubber gasket around the rear window. Just a lovely form.

 

 

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Unfortunately the Fusion’s back end can’t mask the height nearly as well as the front.  The trunk’s cutline extends far below the logical end point (where the bumper normally begins). The rear bumper is flush enough to make that CHMSL up there a little jealous.  It’s all very flat and tall.

 

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Something about these “furrowed eyebrow” taillights isn’t pleasant enough to go with the Aston Martin front end.  If you were ripping off the Aston for the front, why not do the rear too?  If it worked for the Jaguar XF…

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And the plastic insert between the taillights looks out of proportion with…WAIT, WHUT?  IS DAT HYBRID BADGE ON CROOKED? Damn son, are you kidding me?

 

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Back to that plastic bit. I’d prefer that cutline started where my other finger’s located on the taillight.

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Or even better, eliminate the plastic trim and be like my neighbor here in the hotel’s self-serve parking lot. Much nicer!

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The panel gap around the trunk was also a bit unsettling, after you got over the crooked emblem.

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And there’s something counter-intuitive about a trunk that cuts this deep into the body.  Perhaps it will make more sense if I look at the cross-section of the trunk itself.

 

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Chunky and clumsy.  I wish the trunk wasn’t flush with the bumper, if only it was sunken in like the Optima in the above photo.

 

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Luckily Ford didn’t cut corners down here, either.  Just like the front valence, the rear’s chrome exhaust, black plastic “visual bulk reducer” and extra reflector (markers or fog lights in Europe, I suppose) lenses look suitably expensive from here.

 

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Note the negative area in the black plastic, and how it matches the same area at the bottom of the silver painted bumper. Shades of the symmetry seen on the front bumper!

 

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I also adore this little bevel to “introduce” the red taillight to the silver quarter panel. It’s a subtle bend that blends with all the more aggressive creases on the same quarter panel.

lastone

So what’s the end result?  Is the Fusion too strongly influenced?  Should we care since Aston Martin is also willing slap their face on anything to make a quick buck?

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Too much influence!

This wouldn’t fly if a broke-ass design student (peep the tuition rates for design school) used this level of “influence” in design school.  While any student would be publicly, mercilessly humiliated for grafting an Aston Martin nose on their family sedan proposal, they’d be dragged out of the studio by the short hairs for making the C-MAX.

No way in hell this would be considered “A” work for a design student. Is it worth a “B”?  Maybe a “C,”  I think. Then again, FoMoCo writes some big-ass checks to all the major design schools..and offers priceless internships for would-be designers. 

 

lastone4

In the end, I’d love the Fusion if it was on the same platform that pinned the GEN III Taurus.  Such a low beltline, low taillights and an open and airy greenhouse.  Put the Fusion’s design elements on this Taurus and you’d have a far more honest tribute to an Aston Martin.  If that’s what Ford actually wanted.

This was taken in front of the birthplace Will Rogers, entertainer and informer extraordinaire.  He famously remarked, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” I suspect he never met the critics in a design studio…

or a snotty auto blogger, for that matter.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

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After The Tragedy, Some Thoughts About Racing Injuries http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/after-the-tragedy-some-thoughts-about-racing-injuries/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/after-the-tragedy-some-thoughts-about-racing-injuries/#comments Mon, 24 Jun 2013 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493098 When Allan Simonsen crashed his Aston Martin in the opening minutes of LeMans and lost his life, it was a brutal reminder of the fact that auto racing has not, despite the vast amount of intelligent effort put into safety and crash survival, lost its power to end a driver’s life. The precise mechanism of, […]

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Picture courtesy Canberra Times

When Allan Simonsen crashed his Aston Martin in the opening minutes of LeMans and lost his life, it was a brutal reminder of the fact that auto racing has not, despite the vast amount of intelligent effort put into safety and crash survival, lost its power to end a driver’s life.

The precise mechanism of, and reasons for, Mr. Simonsen’s death are not yet known. However, on Sunday night noted racing instructor Peter Krause shared a new article that delves into the risks drivers face and offers reasoned, intelligent explanations as to how these things happen.

Written by Dr. James Norman, Race Car Deaths: The Medical Causes of Racing Deaths with Examples and Resulting Race Car Improvements discusses how drivers are critically injured and how those injuries can be prevented. It’s worth reading, even if you aren’t particularly concerned with competition, because many of these injury mechanisms also occur on the street. If you want to know how people are killed behind the wheel, this will explain that without hyperbole.

Some of my racer friends are extremely upset at the fact that the barrier at Tertre Rouge was pretty close to a tree and that the LeMans course doesn’t really measure up to F1 safety standards even though the cars reach F1 velocities. They have a point, but I don’t think it will ever be possible to take the risk entirely out of wheel-to-wheel competition. Speaking frankly, I wouldn’t want them to… but I’m still above ground, and I still have my choices, don’t I?

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Aston Martin V12 Vantage Loses A Pedal, Refuses To Die http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/aston-martin-v12-vantage-loses-a-pedal-refuses-to-die/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/aston-martin-v12-vantage-loses-a-pedal-refuses-to-die/#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=489874 Despite a wistful tribute to one of the most outrageous sports cars on the planet, Jeremy Clarkson was wrong. We will see another car like the Aston Martin V12 Vantage. But something is missing. The V12 Vantage S gets a 50 horsepower bump and a 37 lb-ft boost in torque. Final power figures are 565 […]

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Aston Martin Vantage. Photo courtesy Aston Martin.

Despite a wistful tribute to one of the most outrageous sports cars on the planet, Jeremy Clarkson was wrong. We will see another car like the Aston Martin V12 Vantage. But something is missing.

The V12 Vantage S gets a 50 horsepower bump and a 37 lb-ft boost in torque. Final power figures are 565 ponies and 475 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is now 205 mph while 60 mph comes up in 4 seconds. A 7-speed automated manual is the sole gearbox option – unfortunately, the three-pedal gearbox goes bye-bye.

In a way, Clarkson was right. The lack of a manual gearbox means the end of an era – as far as I know, there are no more V12 powered sports cars available with a real manual gearbox. But in the grand scheme of things, I am ok with it. It’s a small price to pay. When every supercar is employing some kind of hybrid system or turbocharged engine, we have a real, honest to goodness naturally aspirated V12 crammed into Aston’s smallest bodyshell. My guerrilla antics with the V8 Vantage means that I’ll probably never drive one of these, barring a sudden Powerball win or the kind of marriage that necessitates a pre-nup. But I’m glad that it exists.

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Capsule Review: Aston Martin DB9 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/capsule-review-aston-martin-db9/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/capsule-review-aston-martin-db9/#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487651   A quiet and unnoticed getaway is hardly a fait accompli in the auto-centric city of Los Angeles, where street-parked Italian exotics are a given, and even the peons seem to manage to procure a Mercedes-Benz C-class. The task is made especially difficult when your getaway car is an Aston Martin DB9.  But not for […]

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A quiet and unnoticed getaway is hardly a fait accompli in the auto-centric city of Los Angeles, where street-parked Italian exotics are a given, and even the peons seem to manage to procure a Mercedes-Benz C-class.

The task is made especially difficult when your getaway car is an Aston Martin DB9.  But not for any of the obvious reasons.

On Friday morning, the generous folks at Aston Martin tossed me the key — erm, crystallized emotion control unit — to a vermilion example of its refreshed-for-2013 DB9 coupe.  Twelve minutes later, I was already on the road, to see if James Bond’s personal transportation would pass muster against the vapidity of style-conscious Angelenos.  That’s when I hit my first traffic jam.  And then a spot of late-winter drizzle descended from no place in particular, exacerbating the whole mess.  The traffic trudged for miles.  By the time I reached the outskirts of Santa Monica, my thoughts turned to a parking space and a cold drink, lest a valet attempt to wrest the DB9 from my hands.

That evening, following several rides given to friends, and glamour poses taken in front of homes worth half as much as the car in front of them, I decided to rest the DB9 in the aegis of my girlfriend’s apartment.  After an afternoon’s worth of driving, I hadn’t seen as much as fourth gear, or had the opportunity to truly answer the question that seemed to be on everyone’s mind: “So, how fast is it?”

The coupe from Britain with the six-figure price tag sat outside as dusk turned to nightfall.  Much to my girlfriend’s disenchantment, I vowed to check on the DB9 every hour until morning.  At midnight, I could hear stumbling barflies audibly ogling the carbon-ceramic brakes.  An hour later, I swore that I woke up not to the alarm from my phone, but to a pigeon defiling the DB9’s roof from the overhead power lines.  My overprotective instincts were working overtime.

Upon realizing that there were no power lines remotely near the DB9, I grabbed my overnight bag and headed for the door.  I was entirely sure that this was the same feeling of a nervous parent the first night that a newborn sleeps at home.  To my sleeping girlfriend, I texted, “I’ve left you for the DB9.  See you in the morning.”

I tiptoed down the staircase and slipped quietly into the cockpit to reacquaint myself with the driver’s seat.  For the first time, light shone on all of the gauges and switchgear.  The wanton aroma of buttery leather was all-consuming.  With tired eyes, I gazed ahead at the suggestive, 220-mph speedometer.  It’ll never happen on these streets.

At five minutes to three, the DB9 roared to life with typical, unrestrained aggressiveness from the engine bay that could wake the entire neighborhood.  I selected D from the push-button transmission, and slunk as respectfully as possible toward the highway.  A gentleman, standing on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard, turned his head up from his cell phone and smiled when he saw the DB9 approaching.  Two quick turns later, I approached the entrance to the freeway and depressed the aluminum shift paddle to slow the DB9.

It was a warm night on the west side of Los Angeles, and my night-owl routine from my time spent in Manhattan seemed about ready to pay off.  The roads were never this empty.

I couldn’t have been giddier as I stepped hard on the gas pedal to enter the highway.  The intuitive feedback gleaned from the DB9’s chassis, in perfect concert with its hellacious powerplant, made quick work of the on-ramp, and the subsequent transition to Interstate 10, which required the negotiation of four lanes of a banked overpass.  A rented Corolla sped by in the leftmost lane, doing about 25 over the speed limit, perhaps to the white-knuckled dissatisfaction of its driver.  A quick downshift and a blip of throttle caught me up to him.  I relished the routine.  Smile.  Quick turn of the head.  Approving but disbelieving faces from the backseat passengers.  Smile again.

All this, even as the DB9 nears a decade of production, with few major changes prior to the ‘13’s mostly mechanical refresh.

As I neared downtown, I took pleasure in the fact that I was not confined to the cemented cesspool of interlocking byways, on the daily commute.  The Garmin-sourced navigation system was suddenly of no use.  The V-12 seemed to have endless power, with no real effort required to access it.  I ran my hand along the soft, leather stitching that covered the center console, as well as every surface not bedecked in aluminum or suede.  Although the interior design is similarly old, it benefited from the careful restraint that Concours judges might one day commend.

When I finally reached home — following several quick exits, for the pleasure of obtaining screaming on-ramp performances every time — I was wide-awake, and somehow disappointed that the drive felt shorter than usual.  My personal car spent the remainder of the pre-dawn hours outside the garage, as the DB9 commanded deference, respect; payment of tribute would later arrive in the form of multiple trips for fuel, to the adoring eyes of passers-by.

I spent the remainder of my time with the DB9 flogging it every which way, making friends titter as the crimson beast sped breathlessly down on-ramps. (You never really know who your friends are until you offer to show up at their homes and places of business with a $207,000 conversation piece.)  I marveled at the crispness of Dionne Warwick’s alto inflection, as conveyed through 1000 Bang & Olufsen watts. I loaded its shallow trunk with a weekend’s worth of groceries, and prayed that the baba ghannouj would stay upright.  One expeditious adult passenger climbed into the rear seats, but not for long.

After 72 short hours of random acts of automotive kindness performed for friends, family, and total strangers, it became terribly clear that living with an automobile as special as the DB9 was an indulgence unto itself that ought to be shared with as many people as possible.  As your senses beckon you out for a joyride, and you simply cannot resist letting all 12 cylinders howl into the night, forget about trying not to wake the neighbors.

Luxury is about tasteful sharing of the wealth.  And the DB9 is a top-tier expression of luxury, beauty, and desire, without peer.

Who’s ever tried to make a quiet getaway, anyway?

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Residual Value Miracle Aston Martin To Fetch Millions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/residual-value-miracle-aston-martin-to-fetch-millions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/residual-value-miracle-aston-martin-to-fetch-millions/#comments Tue, 30 Apr 2013 12:57:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=486712 A car bought in 1956 for $15,000 is expected to sell for between $1.5 million and $2 million when it goes on auction in November.  It is expected to be the star of Sotheby’s first significant auction of collector cars in more than a decade, where some 35 prewar French cars, postwar American and European […]

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A car bought in 1956 for $15,000 is expected to sell for between $1.5 million and $2 million when it goes on auction in November.  It is expected to be the star of Sotheby’s first significant auction of collector cars in more than a decade, where some 35 prewar French cars, postwar American and European sports cars, as well as American and European classics will vie for the attention and wallets of affluent car nuts.

The 1956 Aston Martin is one of 15 with the so-called Supersonic bodies created by Ghia, and it is the only completed on an Aston Martin chassis, the Wall Street Journal says. The car was bought by Richard Cox Cowell, heir to an oil fortune, and turned into a present to Cowell’s young bride, the 19 year old blond Gail Whitney, a New York society debutante and member of the Vanderbilt clan.

The marriage was on the rocks a year later. After the divorce in in 1959, the car changed hands among “a who’s who of serious car collectors, including the current seller, Louisville collector James Patterson,” says the Journal. Its recent restoration alone is worth between $300,000 and $400,000, the Journal was told.

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The Confusing World of Aston Martin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/the-confusing-world-of-aston-martin/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/the-confusing-world-of-aston-martin/#comments Wed, 06 Mar 2013 16:10:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480338   In the last two years, Aston Martin has offered six different models. They’re all rear-wheel drive. They all look the same. They all offer V12 engines with roughly 500 horsepower. And yet the most expensive one costs twice as much as the cheapest one.   If you’re confused, so are Aston dealers. The rich […]

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In the last two years, Aston Martin has offered six different models. They’re all rear-wheel drive. They all look the same. They all offer V12 engines with roughly 500 horsepower. And yet the most expensive one costs twice as much as the cheapest one.

 

If you’re confused, so are Aston dealers. The rich people who buy them aren’t, but that’s only because they arrive at the dealer, point to the one they want, and say “that one,” without regards to whether it’s a DB9, a Vanquish or a showroom alloy wheel display. Not that they could tell the difference anyway.

Fortunately, after two intensive months of Pontiff-emeritus style quiet reflection, I’m here to help you pick your way through the enormous mess that is Aston Martin’s current automotive lineup. And don’t worry: this isn’t just another post complaining about how they all look the same. Instead, I’m coming to you with real, hard facts, as you’ve come to expect after my post about the perfect first car.

A brief history

Let’s start with the basics. Ten years ago, and also twenty years ago, Aston made a car called the DB7. It was basically a Jaguar XK8 except, somehow, it had worse switchgear. The climate controls were from a Ford Mustang. The key fob was from a Ford Explorer. But the engine was from Aston itself, which practically guaranteed smooth operation for at least nine weeks after purchase.

Eventually, the DB7 was joined by a more modern car called the Vanquish, which is generally agreed to be the most beautiful car ever to use the Ford Focus’s turn signal stalks. Times were good. Everyone loved the Vanquish, except those who drove it, since its automatic transmission was designed to mimic the abilities of an 18-year-old who’s new to the stick shift. But who cares about jerky upshifts when it looks this good?

Following up the DB7

The trouble started in 2005, when it was time to replace the DB7. Aston debuted a car called the DB9, uncharacteristically skipping DB8 altogether because it was that good. And good it was: sleek styling. Beautiful presence. Rear-wheel drive. And a 6.0-liter V12 with nearly 500 horsepower under the hood.

There was just one problem: that car already existed. It was called the Vanquish. It also had sleek styling. It also had beautiful presence. It also had rear-wheel drive. And its 5.9-liter V12 produced 450 horsepower – just 20 shy of the DB9.

There was another problem, too: the cars looked similar. Not the same, mind you, but enough to get a few people asking questions. Namely, why does the more powerful DB9 cost $155,000, while the older, slower Vanquish costs $235,000? To rectify the situation, Aston quickly rushed a more powerful Vanquish to the market: the Vanquish S. It had 514 horses – 44 more than the DB9 – and alloy wheels with so many spokes that their function may have been solely to annoy car wash employees.

Enter the entry level

The Aston Martin range expanded again in 2006 with the arrival of a cheaper model called the V8 Vantage, which employed a unique strategy: not offering a 500-horsepower V12. It was priced from $110,000. That meant three Astons were now on sale: the V8 Vantage, the DB9 and the Vanquish, which – despite the new S model – was only being sold to the “I’ll have that one” crowd. And even then, at $10,000 under sticker.

The arrival of the Vantage brought more grumbles about styling. ‘The V8 Vantage looks too similar to the other two,’ people complained. Personally, I never understood that criticism. To me, the Vantage has some similar lines to the DB9, but the similarity ends with its overall proportions: the Vantage looks like the DB9’s baby brother. Or perhaps its offspring. Then again, I can tell apart a Sable and a Taurus, so my opinions on this topic may be in the minority.

A new flagship

By 2007, the only Vanquish units being sold were the result of “accidental” dealership fires, so Aston pulled the plug. This coincided with a new owner for the brand, which is the only way to explain the unusual decisions that have happened since.

In place of the DB9 came a new flagship, which Aston called the DBS, apparently because they were now too cool for numbers. And thus the confusion began. The DBS was based on the DB9. That meant it shared virtually everything, including the body panels. Indeed, exterior differences were slim. Clear tail lights to wow the Altezza crowd. A body kit. New wheels. Even for us Taurus/Sable spotters, it was a stretch.

Under the hood, the differences were even slimmer: both cars had V12s that displaced around six liters. The only advantage the DBS offered was 510 horsepower to the DB9’s 470.

I know what you’re thinking: so the DBS had a bodykit and 40 horses. What’s the big deal? Sounds like the Civic Si! Ah, yes. But while the Civic Si costs only $2,000 more than a Civic EX – or about 9 percent – the DBS was a full $100,000 more than the DB9. Even in Aston world, this is something like a 60 percent premium. For 40 horsepower and some Altezza tails.

What’s worse: people paid it. Because of the DBS’s use in Casino Royale, people lined up with money in hand to purchase the body-kitted DB9 as if it was actually worth the $265,000 Aston was charging. Unfortunately, this only encouraged Aston’s new owners to continue the madness.

It gets better before it gets worse

The 2010 model year finally brought in some new blood to the Aston world. That came in the form of the Rapide, a four-door sedan that still managed to look like all of the brand’s two door cars. Somehow, it also had about the same legroom. And, annoyingly, it had the same sixish-liter V12 that put out about 500 horsepower.

But at least it breathed new life into the Aston Martin lineup. Finally, one could again make the argument that the brand once again had three distinct models. Everyone was happy and all was right in the world, until…

Another DB9-based Aston debuts

If the DB9 and DBS weren’t bad enough, Aston decided in 2011 to add an entirely new model that somehow fell between them. Yes, that’s right: the DB9 is a four-seat, rear drive six-figure sports car with 470 horsepower; the DBS is a four-seat, rear drive six-figure sports car with 510 horsepower. And they needed something between them.

The in-between model was called the Virage, which used a bodykit that was also in between the DB9’s standard fare and the DBS’s full-on boy racer look. Pricing, too, was directly in the middle: the Virage started at $208,000. And what was under the hood of Aston’s newest “model?” You guessed it: a six-liter V12 producing about 500 horsepower.

Unfortunately, it got even worse. Now six years old, the V8 Vantage needed something to spice up its increasingly boring existence. So Aston created a new, more powerful version of the car. And how was that done? With – I swear this is true – a six-liter V12 producing 500 horsepower. Aston now claimed to offer five different models, each of which used the exact same engine. Sort of like Nissan and the VQ V6, actually. But at least the Murano and the 350Z never looked the same.

Today’s lineup

Fortunately, Aston seemed to realize the ridiculousness of their lineup quickly and pared down the offerings. For 2013, the DBS was sacked. So was the Virage. To make up for their loss, the DB9’s horsepower bumped to 510 without a corresponding price jump, pissing off everyone who spent $210,000 for a less powerful Virage just three months ago. Not that they’d be able to tell the difference anyway.

But Aston decided to give its DB9 platform one more shot: for 2013, the brand released yet another DB9-based sports car, this time resurrecting the Vanquish name that died after 2007. Styling remained highly similar to the DB9, though power is now up to 565hp. The price point? A whopping $280,000, or about $100,000 more than the DB9. Which, by the way, now costs the same as the V12 Vantage.

Confused yet? We all are. And it gets even worse: with the exception of the Rapide and the Vanquish, every one of the above models offered a convertible. Sometimes it was called Roadster. Sometimes Volante. It was always really expensive.

But for Aston owners, that’s the real allure. That, and being able to tell your neighbors you have “an Aston.” And with that kind of panache, who cares about silly details like the price and the model name?

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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