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Aston Martin uncovers V12 Zagato coupe

Road-racer: Aston Martin's spectacular V12 Zagato, which was revealed at last weekend's Villa D’Este Concours classic car event near Italy’s Lake Como, will get a limited production run.

Aston reveals race-bred, highly exclusive V12 Zagato at Italian classic car show

Aston Martin logo23 May 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

BRITISH sportscar maker Aston Martin unveiled its aggressive-looking V12 Zagato endurance racer concept at the Villa D’Este Concours classic car event held beside Italy’s Lake Como at the weekend – and it looks set to make production, albeit in limited numbers.

Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez said: “Matching the technology of the age with the traditional skills vital to deliver such a bespoke and exclusive sports car will lead to a strictly limited run of road-going V12 Zagatos.”

Reports in Europe suggest an asking price exceeding €200,000 ($A265,500) and, if any examples do make it to Australia, that indicates a showroom price nudging $700,000.

Based on a V12 Vantage, it is one of the most resolved and attractive collaborations yet with Italian design house Zagato and the body’s construction takes Aston’s hand-built ethos to another level.

Zagato claims that it is not possible to create the car’s body using pre-formed panel techniques and that each of the aluminium panels “was formed using an English wheel and traditionally crafted body bucks”.

For example, the front guards consist of seven individual pieces of aluminium, which have been joined and hand-finished to “give one flowing form”. Similarly, the double-bubble roof – a Zagato signature feature – originates from five separate pieces of aluminium.

44 center imageFrom top: Aston Martin Zagato, teaser pic from earlier in May, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato.

After initial meetings between Aston Martin and Zagato in 2010, the project went rapidly from sketchpad to fruition. It was steered by Aston design director Marek Reichmann and lead engineer Chris Porritt, who was also responsible for engineering the One-77 flagship.

As GoAuto reported earlier this month when the first teaser image was issued, the V12 Zagato is intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Aston to bear the Z emblem.

While instantly identifiable as an Aston Martin, the gaping grille, dramatically exaggerated haunches, circular tail lights and aforementioned double-bubble roof mark it out as a Zagato special – and one that harks back to the legendary DB4GT Zagato of 1961.

“The V12 Zagato is an elegant yet brutal design which reflects the great balance between race performance and pure Aston Martin style,” said Mr Reichmann.

“The original DB4GT Zagato was a true icon, powerful and graceful the new design is a true representation of the spirit of DB4GT Zagato. The muscular organic forms define the thoroughbred nature of the car’s racing credentials.”

Complementing the enlarged black mesh frontal air intake sitting above a carbon-fibre splitter are twin power-bulges on the bonnet incorporating huge vents and even larger side vents behind the front wheels.

The side vents are reminiscent of a Ferrari 456 and Aston’s own One-77, reflecting a trend also seen on the Porsche Panamera Turbo and facelifted Jaguar XFR.

The car’s racing intent continues with slide-open side windows and race-spec floating grooved brake discs clamped by Brembo callipers visible through two-tone 20-inch alloy wheels.

The glasshouse tapers steeply to the rear, following the raked roofline that squares off to a bluff rear-end, with more black mesh and a purposeful-looking carbon-fibre diffuser featuring an F1-style fog light, flanked by twin racing exhausts.

Milan-based Zagato has seemingly been influenced by Ferrari in the tail-light design, the cylindrical lenses protruding from deep recesses in a similar fashion to those of the Ferrari FF.

Dr Bez said the Zagato design language was a perfect complement to Aston Martin’s design and engineering expertise.

“After 50 years of the two companies being associated with each other, the partnership has produced some of the world’s most iconic cars,” he said.

“Of course, fifty years ago Italian design houses were widely seen as leading the way with new designs, but now, supported by our independency, Aston Martin has its own in-house design ability so this new venture with Zagato is more collaborative than it perhaps would have been in the past.”

The V12 Zagato, claimed to be “honed with pure driving enjoyment in mind”, shares its 380kW/570Nm 6.0-litre V12 engine with the Vantage on which it is based, but, being race-bred, is reportedly light enough to achieve a sub-four-second sprint from rest to 100km/h.

Further race-ready enhancements include a steel roll cage, tweaked suspension with fully-adjustable Multimatic DSSV dampers and a 120-litre endurance racing fuel tank.

The car will make its race debut in a four-hour race at Germany’s famed Nurburgring circuit on Saturday, with a two-car entry set for the Nurburgring 24-hour race on June 25, with the race team led by Dr Bez himself.

Zagato has been busy recently, producing the Fiat 500 Coupe concept for this year’s Geneva show and announcing a limited run of Dodge Viper-based Alfa Romeo Zagato TZ3 Stradale coupes.

In addition to the original Aston DB4GT Zagato, the Italian firm also made limited-edition versions of the 1986 V8 Vantage and Volante models and, more recently, the DB7 Zagato of 2002 and US-only two-seat DB-AR1 (American Roadster 1).

From 2012, Aston Martin Racing will supersede its DBRS9 GT racer with the V12 Vantage-based Vantage GT3. The first car is scheduled to be completed in July and subjected to a test and development programme, with a 1250kg target weight and a goal of achieving 441kW and 700Nm engine outputs.

The car will be based on the road-going V12 Vantage, but fitted with a race-spec semi-automatic Xtrac transmission and race-developed anti-lock brake and traction control systems.

Aston plans to build 10 Vantage GT3s as customer cars ready for the start of the 2012 season.

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