9 Aston Martins with Italian design

History of 60-year friendship between Aston Martin and Zagato.

The collaboration between Zagato and Aston Martin can be described by the old expression «go together like salt and pepper». In the field of fashion, the Italian style is often contrasted with the British one (especially when it comes to men's suits). Perhaps, this also applies to automotive design: British and Italian design schools are completely different. But opposites attract. The first Aston Martin Zagato was created to compete with Ferrari on the track, but then the battle on the tracks turned into a war for the wallets of billionaires...

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Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, 1960

The DB4 GT Zagato is the car that started the sixty-year collaboration between Aston Martin and Zagato. It was built because of a thirst for victory: the «ordinary» DB4 GT could not overtake the Ferrari 250 GT at the RAC Tourist Trophy. The ‘Brit’ was too heavy and too low-powered. And Zagato was famous for its success in building racing modifications of sports cars.

Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato

Ercole Spada, who worked on the Alfa Romeo 155 and the BMW 5-Series E34, was in charge for the design of the DB4 GTZ. The result was a more streamlined aluminum body that lost its bumpers. As a result of the diet, the coupe «dropped» 183 kg, and the power increased from 240 hp to 314 hp. Maybe beauty will save the world, but it did not help Aston Martin: Ferrari’s cars were still more successful than the modified DB4. As a result, 19 built cars went to collections and did not win any race.

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Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato, 1985

The next collaboration between Aston and Zagato had to wait a quarter of a century. In 1984, the Ferrari 288 GTO and Porsche 959 were shown in Geneva. The management of Aston Martin thought: why do Italians and Germans can build powerful cars, and we cannot? Zagato's help was essential. The first sketch of the future car was published in March 1985. The simple image was enough to sell 52 coupes by August of the same year. The car cost $156,600 (it is about $375,000 in today's money).

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato

The V8 Vantage Zagato was built on a shortened V8 Vantage base, which saved weight. The 5.3-liter V8 was boosted to 437 hp. The 1,650-kg coupe with such power accelerated form 0-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds. A top speed reached 299 km/h. For comparison, the Lamborghini Countach LP5000S QV, shown in the same year, with the power of 449 hp accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 298 km/h (1 km/h slower than the V8 Vantage Zagato).

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Aston Martin DB7 Zagato, 2002

In 2002, the DB7 was eight years old, and the DB9 was still two years away. The DB7 needed to be supported somehow. And the British announced at the Geneva International Motor Show that Aston Martin and Zagato will return to collaboration. The DB7 Zagato body was created according to the established scheme «expand and shorten», but the 1850-kg coupe was not going to race with supercars.

Aston Martin DB7 Zagato Aston Martin DB7 Zagato

Unlike its ancestors, the DB7 Zagato surprised with its look, not with specification numbers. The DB7 and DB7 Zagato had no common body parts other than the windshield. All innovations were textbook. Check the boxes: a roof in the form of two bubbles — check, round tail lights — check, a Kammback with a seemingly cut-off form of the trunk — check. The traditional Aston Martin V12 came with a six-speed manual gearbox. A 0-100 km/h time was 4.9 seconds. In total, only 100 DB7s were sold at a price of £166,000 for each.

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Aston Martin Vanquish Roadster Zagato, 2004

In 2004, two years after the premiere of the DB7 Zagato, one of the rarest Anglo-Italian sports cars was created. It was developed by Ian Callum, a former designer of Aston Martin and Jaguar, and Norihiko Harada, who had a hand in most of the Zagato cars from 1996 to 2015. Externally, the new car differed from the standard V12 Vanquish very little, except for one important detail: there was not a roadster body.

Aston Martin Vanquish Roadster Zagato Aston Martin Vanquish Roadster Zagato

Zagato decided to fix the situation not in one, but in three ways. The car had a glass «dome» behind the seats, and if desired, you could raise the soft top. Finally, it was possible to install a hard roof that actually turned the car into a coupe on particularly bad days. In addition to manipulating the roof, Zagato left their signature in the form of round taillights and a new rear bumper. The car was built in a single copy, and how much it could cost is an open question.

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Aston Martin V12 Zagato, 2012

Aston Martin and Zagato decided to celebrate their half a century of collaboration with a flourish. To do this, they took a racing V12 Vantage GT3, removed the body from it and created two V12 Zagato Race coupes, which were affectionately nicknamed «Zig» and «Zag». A pair of cars immediately received the award of Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este as «the most beautiful concept or prototype». Then the cars with 530-hp V12 engines went on a racing tour around the world: the cars drove more than a dozen kilometers at the Nurburgring, Goodwood and Circuit de la Sarthe for two years.

Aston Martin V12 Zagato Aston Martin V12 Zagato

Customers liked the cars so much that production of the V12 Zagato began in the summer of 2012. The «standard» V12 Vantage is taken as a base, and the cars were built on the capacities that were previously used to build the One-77 supercar. Initially, the companies wanted to build 101 cars, but later the circulation was reduced to 65 cars worth £330,000. 510 hp, a manual transmission, a beautiful body — it's even strange that there were not hundreds of buyers for such a car.

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Aston Martin DBS Coupe Zagato Centennial, 2013

This is probably one of the most unusual cars in the history of Zagato. It all started with the fact that the Italians decided to make a gift for the centenary of Aston Martin. They needed three cars to do this: one of each DB9, Virage, and DBS. After agreeing the project with the boss of the British brand, the Italians said: no one in Aston Martin will see the concepts until Zagato presents them to the public. As a result, the project called the «Centenary trilogy» was revealed in parts — a coupe and a roadster in 2013, and a shooting break in 2014.

Aston Martin DBS Coupe Zagato Centennial Aston Martin DBS Coupe Zagato Centennial

The ambiguous design of the trio tried to embody “a modern interpretation of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and Volante of the mid-eighties". The resemblance is true: a silhouette consisting of horizontal lines, long overhangs of the body and a squat nose that combines the radiator grille and headlightss into a single element. The cars went to different parts of the world: one to a collector from Europe, the second went to Japan, and the third to the American automobile collector Peter Reid. But whether the management of Aston Martin liked the ambiguous cars, we will never know.

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Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato, 2016

The line-up of the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato broke the record of the «Centenary trilogy»: it has already included four cars! It all started with the debut of the coupe (99 car released) in 2016, which was gradually joined by a convertible (99 cars), a shooting break (99 cars) and a speedster (28 cars). All 325 vehicles are built on the Aston Martin Vanquish S and are equipped with a 600-hp naturally aspirated V12. Each of the cars cost about $850,000. Spare parts for them are also not cheap.

Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato

Although not much time has passed since the premiere of the collection, some cars have already been highlighted in interesting stories. For example, one of the hosts ordered a shooting break in bright pink, and the second client purchased all four versions of the Vanquish Zagato at once.

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Aston Martin DBZ Centenary Collection, 2019

It seems that Zagato really liked to produce cars in «collections», and this one is the most expensive of all. The DBZ Centenary Collection is dedicated to Zagato's 100th anniversary. It includes two cars: the modern DBS GT Zagato and the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation, which is as close as possible to the original.

Aston Martin DBZ Centenary Collection Aston Martin DBZ Centenary Collection

The DBS GT Zagato is based on the DBS Superleggera, but it is completely different. The roof is made of a single carbon fiber piece: the back view is only available through a camera. A radiator grille is equipped with movable «scales», and we suspect that it will be even more expensive than a similar element in the Vanquish Zagato. The interior is trimmed in leather, carbon fiber and gold, which is also used for the nameplates. The shocking coupe works on a 770-hp biturbo V12. Only 19 pairs of the DBZ Centenary Collection went on sale at a price of £6 million each.

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Aston Martin Vantage V12 Zagato Heritage Twins by R-Reforged, 2020

The most recent «collection» was shown in April 2020. There are two reasons for its release: 100 years since the founding of Zagato and 60 years of joint cooperation. R-Reforged, the automotive division of AF Racing AG, Aston Martin's partner in the Valkyrie project and the DTM series, will take over production.

Aston Martin Vantage V12 Zagato Heritage Twins by R-Reforged Aston Martin Vantage V12 Zagato Heritage Twins by R-Reforged

The collection called «Vantage V12 Zagato Heritage Twins» will include a coupe and a speedster. In fact, this is a reborn and modified V12 Zagato, one of which also lost its roof. A total of 19 such pairs will be released. The filling remains the same — the V12 Vantage is still used as a based, but the 5.9-liter V12 produces not 510 hp, but all 600 hp. The body lost aluminum panels and became completely carbon fiber. A system of advanced aerodynamics came in place of the anti-wing and fins. Only time will tell if the «twins» will be more expensive than the «Centenary collection of the DBZ».

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