Posts from ‘Aston Martin’
Also check out Tom’s 5 Ugly Vehicles, Part 1: 1995-2004.
One sure way to load your inbox with nasty emails is to publish a list of ugly cars. I caught the most flack for selecting the Toyota Celica as one of five nasty-looking rides for my 1995-2004 list. Please be sure to check that out.
Here, I step backwards a decade to the era of sharply creased edges and faux aerodynamics. Normally, I wouldn’t drag exotic or limited-production vehicles into something like this, but there’s one pricey ride from the early to mid-’80s that really stands out as aesthetically challenged.
Note: I am aware that some of these rides don’t fit all that neatly into the 1985-1994 envelope, yet, when I look back, that’s when I best picture them.
Got your own list of eyesores from this era? Let’s hear ’em.
Aston Martin Lagonda
Sometimes I love this car; usually, though, I just hate it. Credit Aston Martin for taking a chance on something daring. Auction prices would suggest that this strange door-stop design has not warmed the cockles of car collectors, which means that if you want to buy a really ugly, more-or-less exotic used car, you can do so on the cheap. Be aware, however, that the car’s infamous electronic instrument panel—replaced in later models with a more conventional setup—is impossible to keep working.
Consumer Guide Automotive editors are a discerning bunch. When rating vehicles in the category of Acceleration, they have to be blown away—almost literally—before they will bestow a perfect score of 10. Horsepower is not enough; editors look for a car that’s quick from a stop and delivers smooth, linear power.
For model-year 2012, CGA editors lauded 18 cars with perfect 10s for acceleration. (Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to test many exotics, including Ferraris and Lamborghinis.)
Perfect 10s for Acceleration
Powertrain: 510-hp 6.0-liter V12, 6-speed automatic transmission w/manual-shift capability
CG Says: “The exhaust note is intoxicating, and it accelerates with the ferocity you’d expect from a 12-cylinder sports car.”
Powertrain: 510-hp 5.9-liter V12, 6-speed manual transmission
CG Says: “Accelerates as well as you would expect from a supercar with 510 horsepower. Throttle response is outstanding in any situation. The manual transmission is a joy to use.”
Powertrain: 420-hp 4.2-liter V8, 6-speed manual transmission; 525-hp 5.2-liter V10, 6-speed manual transmission
For about as long as I can remember, plastic model-car kits have been part of my life. Some of my earliest memories of my mom involve the two of us working on a model kit at the kitchen table. I still have a 1/43-scale 1969 AMX she helped me build around 1974.
While model kits are meant be built, some people enjoy collecting unbuilt kits that are still in their original boxes. To some collectors, the box’s artwork can make a kit more desirable than the actual pieces inside.
One of the more unusual kits in my collection is the Airfix 1/24-scale model of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB-5, the iconic machine piloted by Agent 007 in several of the character’s spy thrillers, including Goldfinger and Thunderball. Airfix is a British firm best known for airplane models, but the company made a few different 007-themed model kits in the Sixties.
Aston Martin will soon be 100 years old. Except for its tenure under Ford ownership (1987-2007), Aston has not had the resources of a major automaker backing it up. In fact, for much of its history, the company has been underfunded and in and out of bankruptcy. In spite of its financial instability, Aston has built fast, beautifully crafted cars that have inspired fierce loyalty from owners. Today, Aston is independent again, but it has solid financial backing from the Mideast.
I was recently at the Chicago unveiling of the new Aston Martin Vanquish, which replaces DBS as the flagship of the Aston line. Vanquish also foreshadows the future of Aston Martin with new styling on a revised platform with an improved engine. This fresh engineering will later extend to other models in the range. The structure of the Vanquish is 25 percent stiffer than the DBS, yet the car is lighter—thanks in part to carbon-fiber body panels.
Although the layout of the 6.0-liter V12 remains the same, the engine is said to be 85 percent new. Vanquish’s 565-horsepower V12 engine has 55 more horses than the outgoing DBS. Torque increases from 420 pound-feet to 457 and is said to be spread across a wider rev range. Previous Aston V12s didn’t come alive until about 4000 rpm.
Only weeks after showing its Project AM310 concept at a toney classic-car gathering in Italy, boutique British automaker Aston Martin released details and photos of the expected production version. Called AM310 Vanquish, it replaces the 2-seat V12 DBS grand touring coupe and revives the name of that car’s predecessor, the 2002-07 V12 Vanquish. Though we haven’t heard what “AM310” signifies, Aston says the new Vanquish should start U.S. sale in early 2013 as a 2014 model. The base price will be five bucks shy of $280,000, about $1,500 more than the outgoing DBS coupe. A companion Volante convertible should arrive in early 2014.
Aston Martin marks its 100th anniversary next year, making the new Vanquish a kind of early birthday present. Far more important, Britain’s Autocar magazine says “the chassis, engine, styling and interior improvements introduced on the [AM310] will be rolled out across the rest of the range before the middle of the decade.” That implies similar updating for redesigns of the mainstay V12 DB9 coupe and Volante (which may be renamed too), the smaller V8 and V12 Vantage models, and the coupe-styled V12 Rapide sedan.
Whether racing on the circuits of Europe or designing exciting cars for Main Street, USA, Carroll Shelby, who died Thursday at age 89, left an indelible mark on the automotive world.
Born in Leesburg, Texas, on January 11, 1923, Mr. Shelby’s post-World War II plans were to enter the poultry business, but after disease wiped out his chickens, a friend invited him to try racing. By the late ’50s he was among the world’s elite drivers and teamed with Ray Salvadori to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959 at the wheel of an Aston Martin.
In the early ’60s, with his racing career cut short by illness, Mr. Shelby opened a performance-driving school in California. He next devised a plan to build a sports car that mated the two-seat roadster chassis of the British A.C. with a small-block American Ford V8 engine. The Shelby Cobra was born, and with the adoption of a 427-cid Ford engine later in the decade, he had created an enduring icon that won races and stirred the passions of enthusiasts and collectors.