Years back, I was fortunate enough to see a 1986 Aston Martin Zagato being built. Its creator was bashing out an aluminium front wing with a hammer, using a tree-stump as a former. They really did hand fashion alloy-bodied cars at Zagato back then, just as they had for decades before, and it was quite a sight.
So was the resulting V8-based Aston, whose nose was dominated – or ruined, depending on your aesthetic sensibilites – by the appearance of the improbably large bonnet bulge required to house the car’s Weber carburettors.
Aston V8 Zagato
It was not a pretty car, the V8 Zagato, and certainly not the sublime creation that its predecessor, the DB4 GT Zagato, was.
Aston DB4 GT Zagato
But it was partly as an attempt to renew the association with the famous Italian coachbuilder that the 1986 Aston Zagato was produced, and to mark 50 years since that first DB4 GT Zagato was made that this latest Aston Zagato has emerged, as a design project shared by Aston and the Milanese coachbuilder.
To be cynical for a moment, perhaps the most striking thing about this latest Anglo-Italian machine is that it does not look like all the other Astons in today’s range, a failure of imagination (and, no doubt, investment funding too) from which the latest Virage suffers badly. While this V12 Zagato concept shares something of the current line-up’s side window silhouette and long-bonnet proportioning, its attractively stunted tail, gaping mouth of a grille and double-bubble Zagato roof topography give it a look all of its own.
Aston V12 Zagato
That’s something it shares with the most recent Zagato-bodied Aston Martin, which was based on the DB7 and emerged in 2002. Only 99 of these were produced (plus one for Aston’s museum) in both coupe and convertible forms and though not as beautiful as a DB9, it was an appealing throwback to the coachbuilt Italian sports coupes of the ‘60s, including the original Zagato Aston. For the record, there were 19 of the original DB4 GT Zagatos (a further four were built in 1991, wearing unused chassis numbers, these cryptically known as Sanction II cars, followed by another pair labelled Sanction IIIs), and 89 V8 Zagatos from the ‘80s, though no-one has been rushing to add to their numbers.
Aston DB7 Zagato
Aston has yet to decide whether it will build this latest edition, but let’s hope so – it’s good to see something novel come from the company and great to see the Zagato name on one of its cars again. Given the huge desirability of the original, the fact that the previous run of 99 Zagato Astons sold out immediately and that even the ‘80s examples are fairly sought after, it would be surprise if a limited run of this soon-to-be-raced fourth iteration failed to materialise. Especially as every Aston that’s campaigned by the factory in the Nurburgring 24-hours tends to make the showroom.