Profit in the Past
Fifty-five years ago, the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato was an expensive one-off collusion between the storied British and Italian car builders that failed to attract enough interest to complete the planned run of 25 cars. Late last year, one of the 19 built sold for $14.3 million USD at auction. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of their ultimately vindicated car in 2011, the two companies teamed up once again to build the Aston Martin V12 Zagato, of which all 150 were immediately sold. Five years later, they’ve returned to the well once again and produced the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Concept.
Unveiled at the Concorso d’Eleganza Ville d’Este in Italy, the Vanquish Zagato is both a design study and, if history is any guide, a future limited-edition collectible..
To pull it off, Aston put the band back together and sat design boss Marek Reichman down with Andrea Zagato to do a V12 Zagato follow-up. This time, it’s a reskinned V12 Vanquish rather than a V12 Vantage, but there’s a clear evolution of the previous car’s design language in the new concept. The blacked-out A-pillars return, along with the somewhat jarring fender vent and black-on-red color scheme. The car also gets a bit of spice from the new DB11, including the grille and extended tail.
Additional seasoning comes from a bit of fresh engine tuning that has netted an additional 24 hp over the standard Vanquish for a total of 600 even. Still mated to the new-and-improved eight-speed auto and benefiting from a body made entirely of lightweight carbon fiber, the Vanquish Zagato will likely knock a tenth or two off the Vanquish’s claimed 3.6-second 0-60 sprint depending on how much weight has been lost. It’ll no doubt stack up well against the smaller V12 Zagato, too, which boasted only 510 hp.
If the last go-around was any indication, a limited-production Vanquish Zagato would likely sell out before the first car is delivered, and you can safely bet that’s what will happen. Special runs like this are part of Aston Martin’s strategy going forward, as they’re a handy way to improve the bottom line. The last one retailed for more than half a million dollars.
“My goal is seven core models,” Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer says, “and with every year we also launch a couple of specials that help build the provenance.”
The AM-RB 001 hypercar, designed in conjunction with the Red Bull F1 team, is one of those provenance cars. The Vanquish Zagato will be another. Palmer’s point is that with a seven-model lineup—DB11, the next-generation Vanquish and Vantage, the new DBX crossover, and up to three Lagonda sedans—within a few years, Aston Martin will be building significantly more cars annually than it ever has.
“Auction a DB5 today, and you’ll get $2 million USD,” he says. “In 103 years, we’ve made nearly 80,000 cars, and obviously, as we grow—we’re never going to be huge, but let’s say 15,000 cars a year—Astons are not going to be quite as rare as they used to be.”
For Palmer, cars like the latest Zagato and the AM-RB 001, along with the Vulcan and the GT12, are the DB5s of the future. This time, though, they’re designed from the start to be collectors’ items. Additional reporting by Angus MacKenzie