Zed’s Dead, Baby. Zed’s Dead.

Zed’s Dead, Baby. Zed’s Dead.

Moodier than a teenager on a day out with his parents at the seaside.

My thing for old cars has been well-documented here. C-types and Bentleys and Bristols and all sorts of shapely but ancient cars have been namedropped here and the blog isn’t even six months old yet. I’m going to do it again now. Aston Martin’s announcement last week that they’re working on a new project with Zagato is enough to give me slightly oddly-shaped, double-bubble goosebumps.

The original DB4 GT Zagato is a sexy, sexy car. Its shape owes a lot to its contemporary Ferrari 250GT SWB, the Competizione Berlinetta but I think the Aston is just slightly prettier. It’s the bonnet and grille. They just give it the front of the car a touch more interest than the Ferrari which has all the brutal efficiency of one of those surprisingly carniverous fish.

They built 19 original DB4 GT Zagatos. There have been some conversions and replicas as well, including 4 Sanction II cars by Aston Martin themselves. These were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Zagato using DB4 chassis with GT specification modifications. They were given unused DB4 GT chassis numbers as well. Zagato did the bodywork which was slightly different from the original 1960s cars. Given that each of the 19 originals was slightly different one from another, it’s no big deal.

Around the same time as they were planning the Sanction II cars, Aston and Zagato were hard at work building the 50 Vantage Zagatos. It was built on a shortened Vantage chassis and given a more powerful version of the classic Tadek Marek V8 engine. I’ve always considered it to be slightly awkward in appearance. One detail I remember was that the seats were the same as those fitted to the road-going version of the Lancia Delta S4 Group B car. Funny the things which stick in your head sometimes. I remember that but not whether I had breakfast this morning.

There were a couple of DB7 Zagato projects, a coupe and the AR1 roadster for the American market. Neither of them were exactly gorgeous. You wouldn’t kick them out of the garage on a cold morning, but neither would you undress them with your eyes. There was a one-off Vanquish Zagato roadster which I think is now in the States as well. It was certainly on sale at an American dealer a couple of years ago. That was a much happier piece of work even if it was as practical as a wicker shark cage.

Now there is going to be a new Aston Martin Zagato. Like recent special Morgans, it will be launched at the Villa d’Este concours which opens this weekend. I hope it’s a return to form for Zagato. If it’s not ball-achingly beautiful like a DB4 GT or as muscular as the Vanquish, it will have failed before it’s even turned a wheel. When the factory cars combine muscle and grace as well as the V12 Vantage, you have to wonder whether Zagato are just setting themselves up to fail.

It will probably still sell, even in these less flashy times. Aston needs sales success. I think they still have build slots available for the One-77. If I’d won that big lottery jackpot at the weekend, one of them would be mine. Maybe. Or maybe I would have begun looking for one of the original 19 DB4 GT Zagatos so I could have something to drool over properly.

2 Replies to “Zed’s Dead, Baby. Zed’s Dead.”

  1. Personally I really like the V12 Zagato race car that Aston showed a few months ago. I think that they should be able to create a pretty stunning production car based on that, the outline shape, particularly at the back, works really well I think.

  2. I’m not sure about that, James. I absolutely adore the Nissan 370Z, but the V12 Zagato shows more than a passing resemblance to it in the shapes around the tiny rear windows and the fastback. I know that a a fastback is a fastback is a fastback but that is rather close. A £330,000 370Z, even if it’s built by Zagato and has that V12 engine and soundtrack, is not such a wonderful prospect. I much prefer the way the standard V12 Vantage looks and you could have one of those and a Rapide and an XF diesel for doing the shopping for the same amount of money.

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