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First look: Aston’s sleek Zagato coupe

Teaser: The latest collaboration between Aston Martin and Zagato will make its world debut at the Villa D’Este Concours on Italy’s Lake Como on May 21.

Aston celebrates 50th anniversary of 1961 DB4GT Zagato with sleek new coupe

12 May 2011

BOUTIQUE British sportscar maker Aston Martin and Italian design house Zagato have joined forces to celebrate the 50th anniversary year of their first joint-venture, the DB4 GT Zagato.

The latest Aston-Zagato collaboration has resulted in a sleek new coupe with massive rear haunches, the first teaser image of which has been revealed ahead of the concept car’s world debut at the Villa D’Este Concours on Italy’s Lake Como on May 21.

Aston says development of the as-yet-unnamed vehicle, which will make its endurance racing debut at Germany’s Nürburgring on May 28, is well underway and initial customer interest will be used to gauge whether a production version will be forthcoming in 2012.

“Now is the right time for a new Aston Martin Zagato and in combining our design intelligence I think we can create something fitting of the iconic DB4 GT Zagato that has gone before and since established itself as one of the most famous Aston Martins of all time,” said Aston Martin chief executive Dr Ulrich Bez.

“The DNA of both Aston Martin and Zagato has combined successfully to make some of the world’s most desirable collector cars in the past and in this special anniversary year of the DB4 GT Zagato it is appropriate to explore a modern collaboration.”

44 center imageFrom top: Fiat-Zagato 500 coupe, Alfa Romeo-Zagato TZ3 Stradale, Aston Martin Cygnet, Aston Martin One-77.

The first Aston-Zagato project resulted in a stripped-out version of Aston’s DB4 GT that was designed in just one week and debuted at the 1960 London motor show.

Only 19 examples of the first Aston-Zagato were produced in 1961 – the same year one of three special DP209-codenamed versions made its race debut at Goodwood.

All of them survive today, including the two famous Essex Racing Stable cars steered successfully by 1960s racing legends Jim Clark and Roy Salvadori.

Aston and Zagato hooked up again 25 years later in 1986 to the limited-edition V8 Vantage Zagato and then the V8 Zagato Volante, but its most recent joint projects were the DB7 Zagato that appeared at the 2002 Paris motor show and the roofless US-only DB-AR1 (American Roadster 1) two-seater, just 100 examples of which were built.

Zagato is also known for its collaborations with fellow Italian maker Fiat, for which it produced the 2011 Geneva motor show’s striking 500 coupe.

While the fast-backed Fiat 500 is yet to be confirmed as a showroom rival for Mini’s upcoming coupe, Fiat – the majority shareholder in Chrysler – announced two weeks ago it will produce just nine examples of the sleek carbon-fibre-bodied, Dodge Viper-based Alfa-Zagato TZ3 Stradale coupe.

“Our designers are able to collaborate with a broad spectrum of organisations and individuals to seek new and exciting ideas and inspiration due to Aston Martin’s independency,” said Aston design director, Marek Reichman.

“Working with Zagato again in 2011 is inspirational for the team – certainly DB4GT Zagato is one of my favourite ever designs as it is with many of the designers in our studio.

“We can create a truly modern Aston Martin interpretation which stays true to the historical routes of the relationship with Zagato.”

Earlier this week Aston Martin announced Dr Bez’s Rapide company car would be auctioned at this year’s annual Bonhams auction at Newport Pagnell, with all proceeds to go to charities aiding victims of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Built in late 2009 for the exclusive business use of Dr Bez, who became Aston CEO in 2000, the fully optioned right-hand drive UK-specification Rapide wears chassis number F00039 and Concours Blue paint, and is trimmed in Obsidian Black leather and a walnut veneer fascia.

Aston Martin sales remain on the increase worldwide as the British maker rolls out a succession of niche models and expands its global footprint, especially in emerging countries like India, where it opened its first dealership on April 15.

The full model range will be available from the new Mumbai outlet, which follows recent shopfront openings in Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey, and brings the number of Aston Martin retailers to 134 in 42 countries.

However, Aston sales have slowed in Australia this year, by 8.6 per cent to just 32 to April, after a 63.5 per cent sales boom driven by the all-new Rapide sedan last year, when some 121 Aston models were sold locally.

Aston’s two most recent model releases were the DB9-based Virage – pricing for which has been announced at $371,300 (coupe) and $402,300 (Volante roadster) – and the more powerful V8 Vantage S Coupe ($275,000) and V8 Vantage S Roadster ($299,600).

Also due on sale here this year are the two all-new book-ends to the Aston Martin line-up, the circa-$60,000 Toyota iQ-based Cygnet city-hatch and the circa-$4 million One-77 mega-coupe.

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