Zagato’s Centenary Aston Martin Looks Stunning In First Renders
It’s a modern tribute to the obscenely gorgeous and obscenely expensive DB4 GTZby Michael Fira, on
We’re getting closer to the unveiling of what will be one of the prettiest cars of 2019: the Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato. What’s even better is that the front-engined grand tourer won’t come alone as, with it, the 19 buyers will get a painstakingly accurate recreation of the 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato. Now, we’re getting a peek of how the two will look together.
The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, one of the most beautiful Aston Martins ever made and, also, one of the most expensive, is still an object of lust almost 60 years after it was produced. One of them, the example known as ’2VEV’ due to its number plate, sold a few years ago for $13.1 million at auction. The recreation you’re getting along with the DBS GT Zagato, though, won’t cost you $13 million. It won’t even cost you $10 million. In fact, the two can be had - they won’t be sold separately - for the not-so-steep sum of $7.9 million. If you think that’s still too much, then take a look at these renders...
The Perfect Bundle? Two Zagato-Penned Astons for the Price of One
As we’ve reported back in September 2018, Aston Martin is moving forward with its plans to celebrate the 100th birthday of the design and coachbuilding firm Zagato in style. A household name in automotive design, the company founded by Ugo Zagato in 1919 began its relationship with Aston Martin in 1960, one year after the British automaker had won Le Mans with the famous DBR1 and had launched the DB4 GT model.
The first fruit of this collaboration was the achingly beautiful DB4 GTZ (where 'Z' stands for Zagato, obviously) of which only 19 were built in period (excluding the Sanction II and Sanction III models built on top of unused chassis a while after the car was retired from GT competition).
Now, almost 60 years since the Ercole Spada-penned DB4 GTZ was shown at the London Auto Show, Aston Martin is making us drool with some concept drawings of the DBS GT Zagato and its retro sibling, the DB4 GTZ recreation.
These two cars will come together as a package, and only 19 such sets will be built, to honor the original run of GTZs. Basically, what Aston Martin is doing is showcasing to each and every of the lucky 19 customers how much cars have evolved in the past six decades.
That's because the DB4 GTZ recreations will be virtually identical to the originals while the DBS GTZ will be based on the same underpinnings as the ludicrous DBS Superleggera which is powered by a 5.2-liter V-12 capable of 715 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque.
This also means that the DBS GTZ will share the Superleggera’s carbon fiber structure although we expect the GTZ to be lighter than the car it’ll be based upon in true Zagato fashion.
Looking at the sketches, I can only think that this is more of a sibling of the One-77 than anything else. Sure, it features the ultra-broad grille seen on the Vantage-based V-12 Zagato from 2011 or the Vanquish Zagato model range and also the aggressive incorporation of the taillights in the corners of the rear fascia. Beyond that, the hood seems to be exceedingly long and the roofline very low, albeit respecting the line of the original. Then there’s that floating character line that drops down around where the doors would be that seems to be the guiding force behind some folds in the side bodywork.
Overall, I reckon we have to wait for Aston Martin to at least deliver a prototype of the DBS GTZ before we can talk more about the design but I think the finished product will be a stunner, unlike the decidedly ungainly DB7 Zagato or the awkward Vantage Zagato from the ’80s. We’ll have to wait too because Aston Martin didn’t release any more information on the new models beyond what we already knew. As such, you may see Aston Martin extract a few extra ponies out of that brilliant V-12 mill, for instance.
Now, as you’ll have noticed, there have been quite a few Zagato-bodied Aston Martins over the years, and the collaboration has transcended time and continues to this day.
But Aston Martin chose to celebrate the centenary of Zagato by rebuilding the DB4 GTZ and not another model from their joint repertoire because it's arguably the best well-known and the prettiest - in my book, at least.
The recreation (Aston Martin calls it ’Continuation) will be built at Newport Pagnell in the Works division’s workshop. Fittingly, it will be powered by a twin-cam straight-six engine capable of 380 horsepower; all dispatched to the back wheels through a four-speed manual.
This may seem like a bit diminutive compared to the modern DBS GTZ but let’s not forget that the DB4 GTZ rides on 15-inch spokes and that the 380 horsepower of the ’Continuation’ models is actually a pretty healthy jump over the amount that the originals made in period which hovers around 310 and 330 horsepower depending the state of tune of the engine. The cars built in the ’60s sported a 3.7-liter, aluminum block unit with a 9.7:1 compression ratio that could reach 60 mph from a standstill in about six seconds en-route to a top speed of 155 mph.
Motorsport Magazine tested the famous 2VEV example (chassis #0183), one of the two chassis owned and campaigned in the early ’60s by the Essex Racing Team for a 1997 article and what the editors found was that the DB4 GTZ was quite a refined race car, owing to its road-going car origins. It’s worth pointing out that both 1VEV and 2VEV (two of just four lightweight racing examples) have been repaired and updated as years have gone by. 2VEV has been binned three times in its life, including in a pileup that included a 250 GTO and a 250 GT SWB during the 1962 Goodwood TT when one Jim Clark suffered a rare off-track excursion that ended with a sizeable shunt and multiple dents in the curvaceous aluminum bodywork of the GTZ.
"The Zagato really is a bit of a compromise as a racing car, being, as it was, a road car which was converted for use on the track," said Willie Green, former British historic racer, quoted by Motorsport Magazine. "The factory, in fact, was very successful but there were problems. The chassis was never as good as that of a Ferrari 250GTO. The engines were probably a bit more powerful, and they certainly had more torque," he adds. "Even so, it’s helped by its Dunlop racing tires for track work. This car’s been set up with a considerable amount of suspension offset that it would not have had when new and it has rather more grip at the back, making it push into understeer. I’d like to try it with the same size tires on at each end, too. I remember those shots of it when it was racing in perfect four-wheel drifts. You couldn’t do that in this car as it is."
The two Essex Racing Team DB4s also raced at Le Mans in 1961.
There, the two cars, entered in the GT 4.0-liter class, proved quick in qualifying. In fact, 2VEV lapped the Circuit de la Sarthe in 4:25.4, 0.2 seconds quicker than the 3.0-liter Aston Martin DBR1 sports car entered by the same team and driven by Roy Salvadori and Tony Maggs. Sadly, both cars retired due to blown head gaskets. A Third DB4 GTZ (that sported No. 1 in the race) bowed out due to electrical gremlins.
2VEV returned at Le Mans in 1962, this time in the hands of Jean Kerguen. Again, though, the head gasket was the weak link. Another GTZ entered by Mike Salmon, long time Aston Martin works driver retired due to piston failure. The lack of success at Le Mans isn’t telling of the whole career of the DB4 GTZ as the car was quite good, especially the chassis that were updated in 1962 to DP209 lightweight specification (the first four lightweight cars were built to DP207 specification). The Zagato, for instance, won the Aintree Grand Prix in 1961, Australian Lex Davison piloting 2VEV in Victory Lane while team-mate Roy Salvadori came home third in 1VEV which was driven in 1962 to a fourth-place finish in the Silverstone International GT race behind two 250 GTOs and one E-Type Lightweight Coupe.
In many ways, lessons learned by campaigning the Zagatos were later applied by Aston Martin in the building of its prototype grand tourers: the DP212, DP214, and DP215.
They all look similar and were raced by the factory and noted privateers between 1962 and 1965 and were some of the fastest closed-cockpit cars at Le Mans in their time although they proved inferior the Cobra Daytona Coupe that arrived on the scene in 1964.
Here’s hoping, then, that the ’Continuation’ DB4s, which will surely be more prized than the DB4 GT Continuation examples built by Aston Martin a few years back, will be set up to drift in a manner that would make Stirling Moss or Jim Clark proud. Also, let’s hope that, indeed, at least a few of their owners will take them out to the tracks because that’s the only place they can go as they won’t be road legal due to the fitment of those ancient (in conception) straight-sixes.
Read our full review on the 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GTZ
Read our full review on the 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato
Read our full review on the 2013 Aston Martin DBS Coupe Zagato Centennial
Read our full review on the 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera