Aston Martin and Zagato present their latest creation
The relationship between Aston Martin and Italian design house Zagato spans more than 50 years and has spawned classics like the DB4GT Zagato and the DB7 Zagato.
Now they have combined to produce the V12 Zagato, based on a V12 Vantage but with a body clothed in a combination of hand-rolled aluminium and carbon fibre. This cuts 100kg from the Vantage's kerbweight and results in the shape seen here, the first official pictures of the new car.
The aluminium double-bubble roof and bulging haunches are Zagato trademarks, while the diffuser, spoiler and carbon front splitter hint at huge performance. A "Z" pattern in the grille repeats the Zagato logo. Each car takes 2000 hours to build. Painting it one of the four unique colours - Scintilla Silver, Alloro Green, Alba Blue or Diavolo Red - takes 100 hours.
Under the body, the 380kW 6-litre V12 is left untouched, while special "Z" embroidery features on the headrest and parcel shelf. The dash and centre stack are trimmed in carbon fibre.
Only 150 examples will be made at Aston's British headquarters, where the super-exclusive One-77 is put together. The British price for the V12 Zagato is £396,000 ($751,758).
The collaboration between Aston Martin and Zagato began in the late 1950s with the DB4GT. It was designed to challenge the Ferrari 250 GT, which was dominating the World Sportscar Championship. It was primarily sold to private race teams, but at least four of the 19 cars were built as road cars.
In 1958, the first DB4 was released and received universal acclaim as a successful grand tourer (GT). Much of the DB4 utilised technology from Aston Martin's earlier race efforts, including disc brakes, an independent front suspension and a Superleggra body from Touring of Milan.
A year later, Aston Martin was anxious to take the DB4 to the track, so it introduced the GT model in September 1959. It was prepared for racing with modifications including a shorter wheelbase, sparse interior and lighter body. The huge hood scoop which distinguished the model was hiding a potent version of the inline-six that used triple Weber carburettor, twin-spark ignition, high-lift camshafts and a 9:1 compression ratio to raise power output to 225kW.
Despite a large factory backing, the DB4 GT only achieved moderate success and was beaten at the 1962 RAC Tourist Trophy by Stirling Moss in a Ferrari 250.
Losing its most coveted event to the Italians motivated Aston Martin to take the DB4 to the next level, especially since the purpose-built Aston Martin DBR1 had proven itself by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Later, Zagato transformed the DB4 GT into a smaller, more lightweight car with free-flowing lines.
With the help of perspex and aluminum components, more than 200kg was shed off the DB4 GT. The public first got a look at these lines at the 1960 London motor show.
On the track, the DB4 Zagato raced cars such as the Ferrari GTO. But, due to low rigidity and oversteer, it was still beaten by the Ferraris. Even so, the DB4 Zagato is one of the most desirable Aston Martins.