David Brown (1904-1993) was the legendary tractor manufacturer and post-war rescuer of Aston Martin, who bought the company in 1947, and helped create some of its best-remembered cars by donating his initials to them, then sold up in the '70s when Aston struck financial trouble.
However, another car-making David Brown has sprung to notice. Also an entrepreneurial Yorkshireman, this new DB's business is also based on the launch a luxurious new GT car – which looks a lot like a classic Aston Martin.
But this time there's no formal connection to the century-old Gaydon-based sports car maker. This Brown is the man behind the super-exclusive Speedback GT, priced at over £500,000. It uses the contemporary underpinnings from one of Jaguar's finest cars but its shape and details recall the most iconic features of the Aston Martin DB5, all realised in a modern package.
Despite the uncanny similarity of his background and business career to Aston Martin's venerable Sir David Brown (the later DB is a patriotic British entrepreneur; his interests run to retailing, brewing, interior design, retailing and his background is in manufacturing large, off-highway vehicles), the new Brown never set out to take advantage of any perceived Aston connection.
He's an outgoing, wisecracking sort of bloke, but you can see the suggestion irritates him, though he acknowledges that a company called David Brown Automotive has more instant gravitas today than a Trevor Smith Automotive would do. That much he knows he owes DB Mk1.
The Speedback idea sprang by degrees from the fun Brown has had over the years building wild rally cars, and entering both UK events and globetrotting productions like the Paris-Peking Rally (in a '20s Rolls-Royce).
Many years ago '60s-loving Brown bought an Aston DB5 and modernised it with more power, soundproofing and better brakes. "I love it, and still have it," he says, "but after all that it was still a '60s car. I kept wondering how I could have a modern car with the look I liked."
Under the skin the David Brown Speedback GT uses a Jaguar XKR chassis, engine and all its other significant mechanical components, but is carefully designed so virtually everything you see is unique.
The interior is a celebration of wood, leather and metal details. The exterior does plenty of DB5 details better than the old original (check the finely sculpted front bumperettes). As you would expect nothing is left to chance, with the Speedback GT capable of stowing 243 litres of luggage with the seats up and 502 litres if you lower the rear ones. The body is made of aluminium to increase structual strength and reduce the overall weight, while there are LED headlights, performance brakes, active differential and dynamics.