By on May 20, 2011

The story goes that an English gentleman was sitting in his London club and noticed that the man reading next to him was David Brown, star-crossed industrialist and owner of Aston Martin.

“Say, old chap,” the fellow asked Brown, “I do quite fancy that motorcar of yours. Don’t suppose you could sell a fellow one of them, do you?”

“Be delighted to,” Brown responded. “Simply have your bank draft me a cheque for forty-two hundred pounds.” The gentleman cleared his throat.

“Well, old chap, since we are both members of the same club, one doesn’t suppose it could be done at cost?”

“I would be even more delighted to,” Brown responded. “Simply have your bank draft me a cheque for fifty-two hundred pounds.”

Feel free to file that story, along with the well-known tales of a young Prince of Wales absolutely dusting his personal bodyguards whilst caning his DBS-V8 through the leafy B-roads of Merrie Olde England, in the dumpster of history where they belong. Today, Aston is simply another reanimated wanna-be luxury brand chasing the favor of an international class of nouveaus whose breeding and taste make the miniature-giraffe Russian gangster from the Direct TV ads look like Lord Mountbatten. The V-12 Zagato is simply a gilded lure dangled before their nighmarish deep-sea mouths.

This newest Zagato is a concept car made the old-fashioned way, with hammers and English wheels. Its basis is the V-12 variant of Aston’s entry-level “Vantage” coupe. As with a few recent new Astons, the company will campaign a bespoilered variant in the Nurburgring 24-Hour. Don’t bother asking about the lap times: under real racing conditions, with traffic and variable weather, the cars will be lucky to beat 8:30 on the average.

Although the V-12 Zagato has no official production plans, we can safely assume that the real purpose of showing it as a “concept” is to drum up business with the various oil lords and mafia types who have kept the Italian design houses in business building four-door Ferrari 456 station wagons and Bentley Javas. These vehicles are generally purchased for the purpose of one-upsmanship and then left to rot in underground garages.

Presumably, the Zagato would cost at least as much as the infamous “One-77”, and be more exclusive to boot.

As with all of these new-look luxury goods, be they watches, motoryachts, or automobiles, there’s a requisite “shout out” to an authentic previous product. In this case, it’s the DB4 Zagato, a gorgeous bespoke coupe from the Fifties which sold in “limited quantities” through Aston’s “exclusive allocation” policy of “charging a metric ton of cash for it and building as many as they could sell.”

Let’s take a look.

I don’t know about you, but I feel better already. Unfortunately, the million-dollar tariff likely required to put one of the modern Zagatos in your underground garage won’t bring you close to an original DB4. TTACers searching for a “real” Aston Martin can purchase a DBS straight-six in solid shape for forty or fifty grand. That sum gets you an authentic, hand-built Aston, made the old-fashioned way because it was the only way they knew how to do it. It won’t keep up with a Ferrari 458 around a racetrack, but to be fair neither will the new Zagato. It will simply be a genuine Aston Martin.

If you feel any concern about having only spent fifty K on something which could be purchased in tribute/reissue/whatever form for many times that, feel free to send the difference to Mr. Brown’s family. He died in 1993, and is beyond any concerns as petty as the ungentlemanly use of his initials.

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18 Comments on “Aston V12 Zagato Concept Fondly Recalls Days Before Aston Martin Became Pawn Of Shady Middle Eastern Investment Company...”

  • avatar

    Ugh. That concept is strictly for the tastes of, as the Aussies say, cashed-up bogans.

    Proles with something to prove.

    Like a snow day at school… no class.

  • avatar

    I rather like the door panels.

  • avatar

    I love it. If you want style and class Aston Martin is for you. If you want pure speed, forget the Ferrari 458 and get the exceptional Mclaren. But if you want Luxury get a Rolls Royce or then again if you want speed and luxury get a Bentley. Basically if your rich just buy British…er… did I just say that?

  • avatar

    So by this standard, an old XK-E, hand-hammered by necktie-wearing lads in snapbrim caps, is superior to this Zagato. And by implication, so was my 1962 MG Midget. Okay, I’m fine with that.

  • avatar

    The thing looks like a Polynesian war god from the back.

  • avatar

    This isn’t even as interesting or wild-looking as the One-77…it looks like a melange of nissan and ferrari design cues. It’s handsome, but it doesn’t look like a million bucks.

    Regarding rotting supercars, that’s no exaggeration:

  • avatar

    So let’s say you’re a rich person looking to make a statement, to be seen rolling up to the red carpet. Which will more likely turn people’s heads, the nouveau riche v12 Zagato (though I admit a fondness for the styling of most Callum era and later Aston Martins), or arriving in a DB4?

    It’s like I tell my biker friends and customers, if I ever get the John Player Special Norton of my dreams and take it to a bike event, people will ignore all the Hayabusas, Ducatis and CBRs and make a bee line for the Norton.

  • avatar

    Wannabe luxury brand?


  • avatar

    I think I saw those wheels from the V12 Aston on a ’92 Caprice in Houston recently.

  • avatar

    Nothing is more annoying than listening to folks from poor or middle class backgrounds pontificate on matters of taste and class. They always seem to think it has something to do with choosing the right things to buy. They always fail to understand that people with no class or taste bought the old Astons just as people with no taste or class buy the current ones, Zagato or not.

    Please save us from any more of this pseudo-rich blather. It’s just a lightly disguised version of “I bought a Hummer because I have something to prove (and/or miniscule genitals).” If you think that buying the “right” car will demonstrate that you have taste and class, I’ve got news for you: you have neither.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you have a good point, here. On the other hand, Baruth’s sentiment is a needed antidote to the ridiculous fawning and auto-eroticism coming from other auto media outlets.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      There’s an interesting conversation to be had about class (which is inherited), taste (which is either acculturated or educated), and the difference between a product being valuable because of the people who make it and a product being valuable because of the people who buy it.

      Unfortunately, you’ve short-circuited all of that with an attempt to out-psuedo-rich me through meta-criticism, and that’s a shame, because it means that you were just trying to score some kind of “points”.

      I also think you’ve made the error of confusing wealth and breeding. David Brown was never truly wealthy in the modern sense. He paid twenty thousand pounds for the company — at most, that’s a million dollars today. And he was not of noble background. What he *was* was an English gentleman in the post-Victorian meritocratic sense. Chaucer would have considered him a commoner, today’s media would just call him a “rich guy”, the truth of it was that he was a hard-working, thoughtful, and successful individual who was so proud of rescuing Aston Martin that he put his own name on the wings. Imagine the name of some miscellaneous sheikh on the wings today? You simply can’t. That’s the difference, not any dick-swinging about what somebody can or cannot buy.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    “Aston is simply another reanimated wanna-be luxury brand chasing the favor of an international class of nouveaus”

    And Porsche and Ferrari don’t also cater to this market? Wonder why Baruth saves his vitriol for Aston when the aforementioned brands sell to plenty of the nouveau riche he deplores.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s probably because Aston Martin is financially by, in Jack’s words, a “Shady Middle Eastern Investment Company,” while Ferrari and Porsche aren’t, at least not as overtly as Aston Martin.

  • avatar

    Hey, at least it looks *different*. The DB9 is a pretty car, but the looks are starting to get stale, and it doesn’t help that Aston is selling it again as the DBS, and AGAIN as the Virage. The Vantage is also just a baby version of the DB9’s styling. Aston needs to shake things up a bit.

    As for Aston’s clientele, they are no worse than the mostly trashy people who drive their Bentley Continental GT or Flying Spur home to their McMansion. Old money Bentley people might buy a Brooklands, but Phaeton derived Bentley buyers are just as tasteless as any Aston buyer.

  • avatar

    All right, who took the bumper!?

    Looks beautiful!

  • avatar

    Or you could buy a DBS that looks like a Zagato – I’ve seen it in the flesh and without a real one alongside it looks the goods.

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