David Brown Automotive will launch 'retro' sports car in Monaco next month; Speedback GT is based on Jaguar XKR and will command six-figure price tag
27 March 2014

British businessman David Brown has revealed a new British sports car based on a Jaguar XKR and inspired by retro GT cars from the 1960s.

Brown, who bears no relation to the David Brown of Aston Martin fame, will launch the new car, called Speedback GT, at the Top Marques show in Monaco on 17 April.

Under the Speedback's unique, hand-formed aluminium panels are the complete platform and mechanical package of a Jaguar XKR. Management and designers from Jaguar have seen the Speedback and declared themselves happy with the project.

It will not compete with any Jaguars because a production Speedback will be much more expensive according to Brown, who envisages building 50 cars a year at most.

The design draws its inspiration from the likes of the Aston Martin DB5 and DB6 models from the 1960s, but designer Alan Mobberley, who did much design work on all three Land Rover Discovery generations and also shaped the 1981 Talbot Samba, says there are also shades of Ferrari and Maserati in the design.

There have been plenty of 'bespoke' British GT projects, typically with tubular frames, glassfibre bodies and an American 'crate' off-the-shelf V8. Nearly all have come to nothing.

Brown says the key differences between his project and other British start-ups, that have come to nothing, is the thoroughly engineered platform, and the ability to produce bespoke small parts by 3D scanning and printing.

All visible exterior and interior parts are unique to the Speedback, including switches made by 'direct metal laser sintering’ that builds the component from laser-melted nickel alloy in 63-micron layers. The Speedback is the first car to use this technology.

The prototype has been built by Envisage, a Warwick-based engineering and prototyping company which does work for major manufacturers but is also keen to build small runs of 'coachbuilt' cars. The Speedback will be the first, with a convertible version also in the plan.


The company says it won't be affected by Jaguar's recent decision to end production of the XK, as bodies and engines for that car will be around for some time to come.

Q&A David Brown, chairman of David Brown Automotive

The British specialist car industry is littered with shattered dreams. Why have you done it?

"I was on a classic car rally in the south of Spain, in a Ferrari Daytona. It kept breaking down and it was about 150 degrees in there. We'd hired a Peugeot 106 with air-con and everyone wanted to be in that, and not the Ferrari. So I decided to build a car with that sort of style and visual simplicity which would work properly."

Why now?

"There's a resurgence in the idea of coachbuilding, taking a chassis and putting a new interpretation on it, and new technology makes it possible to do it well. And we want to stress that the whole car is made in Britain."

What makes you qualified to run a new car company?

"My father was also David Brown – not that one, although our company also made tractors. We made earthmovers, too, and we bought Bedford Trucks from GM. My background has always been in engines and wheels."

What will people make of a car which looks rather like an Aston Martin and will be sold by David Brown Automotive?

"I haven't invited any feedback from Aston Martin. I'm not looking for their sanction on our product, nor to leverage off the other DB. This car will be what people perceive it to be, and happens to be funded and managed by a chap called David Brown."

How much will it cost?

"You'll have to wait for the announcement at the Top Marques show in Monaco next month, but it will be somewhere between £100,000 and £1m."

Our Verdict

A smooth, svelte all-rounder which can equally cosset and thrill

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Comments
48

27 March 2014
50 a year? But there's only one Austin Powers. Why would 49 others want a fake Aston with silly wheels.

27 March 2014
I dislike the DB5 (I much prefer the DB4) so it would be unfair to comment on the styling but thank god for a decent interior on a cottage industry car at last!!! Even if it is clearly a Bentley "inspired" design. However, those A pillars look huge on the interior photos!! I hope its an illusion created by the camera.

27 March 2014
I can't afford it. The black car in the background looked subtly different, is it?

27 March 2014
Between 100k & 1m for a re-bodied XKR Errr, nope. The thing is hideous, the proportions are all wrong. It reminds me of the vehicles you get in GTA series, the designs are tweaked just enough not to get into trouble but you can still tell what they're implied to represent.

27 March 2014
I expected to hate this, afterall it's really just some kind of expensive fake but… the rear end really works. It's lovely. The front's not bad either. Modern proportions kill it a bit though with the heavy pillars and small glass area compared to the original's more delicate look. The wing mirror is terrible. Needs to be thin and chrome surely? But my god those wheels! They just look like Halfords wheel trims. And they're too small as well.

27 March 2014
Yeah, some people are hard to please, judging by the previous comments. Cars like this are supposed to divide opinions though and I really like it. Who wouldn't want a GT inspired by 1960's Astons with modern under pinings

289

27 March 2014
mess!! Embodies everything I don't like about retro styling.

27 March 2014
Sorry but if you want to spend up to £1m on a car that looks like an old Aston DB5 why not buy an old Aston DB5, and buy a new Aston with the change (admittedly there will not be much change left after buying a mint DB5), and to me the interior looks like a mixture of XJ and XK bits and not totally bespoke..

27 March 2014
First reaction is no. Perhaps it'll look better in the metal. Oh, and Autocar's picture caption writer needs to change the word 'bares' to 'bears' on image 7.....

27 March 2014
Thanks stagata1, corrected.

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