Is the brand new limited edition Vulcan just the start of things to come for Aston Martin? Our deputy editor, for years an enthusiast of the brand, certainly hopes so
Though I recall having an enthusiasm for the brand when I was a young(er) tike, it wasn’t until the 2003 British International Motor Show that the infatuation truly started to creep in. Into my then one-year old Honda Civic myself and five university friends duly squeezed, the journey to Birmingham an assorted mass of CD changes, petrol stops and “was that you?”s. No matter, for at the show itself, and after four solid hours of trawling the halls in search of automotive art (and free stuff), a very pleasant gentleman on the Aston Martin stand – clearly amused by the sight of six glassy-eyed 19-year olds chewing the barrier – invited each of us to come and sit in the then-brand new DB9.
That it was gorgeous, both on the inside and out, was almost immaterial. The very feeling of being in an Aston, running my fingers across the leather dash of an Aston, and looking at myself in the rear-view mirror…in an Aston was all that it took. “No matter the sale of my left kidney,” quoth I, one day one of these glorious machines would be mine.
Some 12 years later and still a couple of hundred thousand dollars short of the target, the infatuation returned when I jumped aboard a ‘15 Vanquish for our recent Luxury GT group test (full story to come). It may not have been as characterful as the Ferrari or as comfortable as the Bentley, but dear Lord it monstered the turns with almost lackadaisical indifference and was easily the best looking of the four. “No matter the mortgage repayments,” quoth I…
That said, time behind the wheel also suggested the realities of Aston ownership mightn’t be all rainbows and unicorns. Standing north of six-foot tall means headroom is limited, the SatNav could drive even the most sainted to madness, and the interior – though stunning – would surely age and wear badly, much like we have seen in the Vantage and DB9. It’s not just for these reasons that, despite stints with Ford, General Motors and the VW Group, Aston’s fiscal state has seen better days as of late.
And yet a new CEO and the limited edition Vulcan – plus the small matter of $750m from two new investors – could spell a possible resurgence for Aston, the brave new world under ex-Nissan man Andy Palmer starting with a brand new DB9. Clearly I stand alone in this opinion (for what it’s worth) since to me the Vulcan hypercar is not a handsome machine. Immaterial though, since the very presence of a raw and clearly mental design language surely spells only good news for the nearly decades-old DB9. Though still tight-lipped on the subject, Aston has also not ruled out the idea of a road-going Vulcan, and given recent rumblings of a V12 rival to the Ferrari F12berlinetta, you don’t need to raid the vast excesses of your imagination to work out what form the base.
The other slightly more predictable, though no less combustible topic, is Aston’s new crossover, to be built atop the new DBX concept we saw in Geneva. Purists will scoff but simply put, SUVs stack the coffers: enormous success with the Cayenne has allowed Porsche to foot the bill for both its Le Mans program and all derivatives of the 911 for more than a decade, Jaguar freely admits the F-PACE could be one of its best selling models ever, and – strewth – even Lotus is giving it a go. Stick an Aston badge on a five-seater, high-riding family car and the orders will surely come rolling in, no doubt delighting the firm’s accountant.
If all goes to plan then under Mr Palmer’s tenure, Aston may well be on its way back from the brink, and few would mourn that, least of all those who still get the infatuation. Still several hundred thousand dollars short, I’m not ready to give up on that dream just yet.