Aston Martin has revived what may be one of the coolest pieces of nomenclature to exist in the world of automobilia.
Yes, the Vanquish has returned to AM’s lineup.
“Vanquish” …a word at once elegant and aggressive. Exactly what Aston’s team was going for when they slapped the badge on this coupe; a vehicle they’re billing as a “Super Grand Tourer”.
Hey, Aston Martin marketing department, I’ll give you that one for free. Lend me a car already?
Well, they wouldn’t. But they did let me sit in one.
Alright, fine, not even.
A friend who owns a DB9 is at Aston Martin New England all the time for repairs (haha, sorry couldn’t resist), and as a result is on their mailing list. He forwarded me his invitation to see one fo the first new Vanquishes here in the US which was being touted around highline dealerships all over the region.
Yeah… scraping the credibility barrel here. But when it comes to Astons, an anglophile like myself has no shame.
I stole away to the Waltham, MA Aston/Lotus store around lunchtime to have a look. Nestled in the center of the showroom, completely devoid of fanfare, sat the 2013 Vanquish.
My first impression? Nothing short of what I expected: It is a tremendously exquisite machine to behold.
Even with the engine disengaged the car lept off the pavement (floor?) and into my face. Swooping lines of white, bristling with chunks of exposed carbon fiber, encasing a crisp quilt-stitched interior the exact same red as a cherry-dipped-kiddy cone at Dairy Queen. So perfect you’d think you were watching TV.
Moving into the cockpit the interior didn’t blow me away as much as the bodywork, but I was a huge fan of the wacky flat-tire shaped steering wheel. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in this state, but surely the gentleman scholar who will buy this car won’t concern himself with such things as “passing inspection”.
The rear seat, which is actually an option, is reserved for Hobbits. Since the likelyhood of one of them finding their way into an Aston Martin is low, my money’s on the back seats never getting used ever.
The car is powered by a 6 liter high-compression V12 that burps out 565 horsepower and just shy of 460 lb/ft of torque. That, mated to a six-speed “touchtronic” automatic, lets the car leave a light to 62 MPH in 4.1 seconds and top out at just over 180 MPH. Fuel economy is surprisingly reasonable at 19.6 in combined driving.
It breaks my heart to report that while the engine did indeed look glorious with imposing symmetrical intake manifolds ever so slightly eclipsed by a beastly swaybar, I was not permitted to start it. So my review of the Vanquish has to end… here.
There were many other exciting distractions at the Aston store though, including a Rapide (that funky four-door) which I learned has a terribly uncomfortable back seat, and an exceptionally tidy V12 Vantage. Finished in a glossy interpretation of British Racing Green with just enough carbon trim, suede headliner and a proper three-pedal six speed, this would have been my dance partner of choice.
The service bay, which was visible through a large glass internal window behind the Vanquish, was quite literally a treasure trove of many cars I lust after on a daily basis.
A near-perfect widebody 911 eclipsed a Mercedes 300SL and deep in the garage I spotted a Lamborghini Miura; the only one I can ever remember seeing… ever.
I made a note to come back the next time this dealership was on my way someplace. Maybe I’ll be able to sweet talk my way into a test drive after this favorable review.
I spent the moments before falling asleep last night imagining the future automotive inhabitants of my garage, as I often do. Except this night was different. I have a fantasy lineup of about twelve cars and for once I took the issue further- thinking about insurance costs, specialty tools, storage, and the amount of time required to be an active poster on twelve online automotive forums. It was a night terror most unwelcome.
But it got me to thinking; could a gentleman survive with one car alone?
At first I dismissed the idea as preposterous. There was simply no way one car could fulfill a modern gentleman’s automotive demands in both business and pleasure.
And yet… there has to be a way for men to streamline their stables without sacrificing all the benefits of keeping a variety of cars in the garage.
I won’t point to one vehicle as the “ultimate gentleman’s car.” If I do that, everyone will buy the same thing and strip club valets across the globe will curse my name… and I still owe Louie at Sapphire for not calling the cops that time I put my grandfather’s Mercedes through the front door.
Instead I present this guide to steer the discerning gentleman through the modern maze of motorcars, and better prepare him to select what will be his own Ultimate Gentleman’s Car.
Your gentleman’s car has to be unique, stylish, and functional…ish. Just like you, it’s got to have a big presence without being too flamboyant. Subtle but exceptional; something an off-duty superhero would drive. An engaging ride but not too strenuous- you can’t look flustered when you roll up to P.F. Chang’s with a hot date.
Anyway, you’ll have ten or fifteen motorcycles for when you really need to get the adrenaline pumping… those things cost nothing to insure and take up less room than that home gym you ordered online.
Red, Black, Yellow, Any color Crayola had a contest to name
I know what you’re thinking, red’s a classic. But it’s just too sexy for the truly distinguished. Red wants attention, and a gentleman has to pretend he doesn’t. Don’t worry, there’s an exception here for vintage Ferraris (see below). Glossy black is another old stand-by and because of that it’s getting played out, with silver coming close behind it. Everyone’s seen the Black Paint/Black Rims thing and now it looks like you’re either an undercover cop or about to be arrested by one. Yellows, lime greens, oranges, and the like are best left on the set of the next “Transformers” movie.
You might think a Lamborghini is the ultimate status symbol, and when you pop that door into the sky you’ll be the envy of every twelve-year-old on your block. But chicks will think you’re compensating for something you can’t raise, so “raging bulls” are out. Remember you don’t demand attention; it just, seems to find you. Ferraris are a bit less gaudy, but still carry some unfortunate eurotrash ambiance. That is, unless it’s at least thirty years old and not a Mondial 8. A well cared-for Ferrari from the 60’s or 70’s exudes classiness and any woman who doesn’t agree won’t get along with you in the long run anyway. You can even get away with a red one.
Brand New Cars
Any cock with a credit card can rent a Continental GT and pretend he’s Jay-Z for 24 hours. You’re much more original than that. Besides, pretty much all car companies are owned by Volkswagen these days. That means even some of the most exclusive modern supercars share parts with the Passat. Yuck. Step outside the box and bypass new car dealers when searching for your ultimate gentleman’s car.
A couple decades ago GM pulled the marketing coup of the millennium by creating a vehicle that appealed to soccer mums, the U.S. government, and rap stars. I’m talking about the Chevy Suburban of course, and it’s monolithic variants (Tahoe, Yukon, Escalade). If you have one of these, I won’t hold it against you. They were the “it” car in the 90’s-00’s and are comfortable as your favorite basement couch. But let’s be honest, we all look like an idiots getting 10 miles-per-gallon while we haul seven empty seats around. Less is more here, it’s time to downsize.
Big blowers protruding from the hood and exhausts audible for miles might get nods in Laconia, New Hampshire but everyone else gives those cars the finger. If somebody taps your window and asks if you liked “Fast & Furious” don’t panic, just sell your vehicle and start over.
Matte Black or White, Blue, British Racing Green, Maroon
Flat colors are hard to apply properly and while few people will appreciate that fact on its own, a nicely executed flat black, white or green will really set your car apart. Best of all it works on svelte and angular vehicles alike. If you need some gloss in your floss, blue is the new silver and maroon is the new red. Not “Carolina Tar Heels” powder blue, that stays on basketball jerseys and pimp hats. I’m talking about a nice, deep and glossy blue that might match your date’s dress. Now maroon, you forgot that color exists didn’t you? What about the other word for maroon- “crimson.” Oh yeah, now that sounds cool. Not only does the name roll off the tongue nicely but the color itself a great subtle eye-catcher. Not quite red, but not camouflaged in storm clouds like the rest of the acceptable palette. The perfect look for a gentleman with just a touch more joie de vivre.
Reserve is rooted deep in British culture, and it shows in their vehicle designs. Even the quarter-million-dollar Aston Martin doesn’t scream for attention. …Or does it? That’s what’s great about these vehicles. They behave just like a gentleman, commanding attention without anyone realizing it. While the guy who pulled up to the party in a Murciélago will have a lampshade on his head within an hour, he who arrives in a DBS will have a bikini model’s ass in one hand and free gin martini in the other in as much time.
The only downside of cars from the Imperial Isle is that you’ll invariably spend more effort under the hood than you will trying to pull dates at the bar- not ideal when it makes you late for the Cannes Film Festival or whatever other gala you gentlemanly types might attend.
Fashion is cyclical, and old stuff is cool again. Pristine cars from a bygone era are always sexy and get nods of approval from just about everybody. Don’t go too crazy- a Packard or Duesenberg from the 1930’s heads into “creepily-eccentric” territory. But a nice European import from the 60’s or 70’s makes it look like you’ve got good taste coming out your ears. Find a car that utilizes a leather strap to secure the hood and by god, you’ve got yourself a winner. If you go for the “ironic” look, you might be able to pull off something from the 80’s but only if you’re brave enough to sport an Adidas track suit in public.
You see more Beemers and Benzes in a day than suits in a skyscraper. But when’s the last time you saw a Weismann MF5, Spyker C8 Aileron, or Noble M600? Cars from boutique brands are like exotic pets- hard to get your hands on and even harder to take care of, making them most gentlemanly indeed. If you want extra points, get an electric Tesla to be individual and environmental. If that doesn’t get you laid you might be beyond saving.
While vinyl graphics and aluminum wings are no-fly zones, clever personal tweaks show your attention to detail and demand for perfection. Upgraded wheels (but not too big), slight lowering, or a stock-looking stereo that flips out to a monitor are choice examples. Fit an ejector seat or a bulletproof deflector screen and you’ll have Miss Moneypenny in your lap before you can say “Yeah, Baby.”
I laughed out loud when I saw the concept of the Aston Martin Cygnet.
No way could this thing be real- it looked like something you’d see in a Photoshop thread on a Smart Car forum.
But when I heard the car was actually going into production I broke down and became a full-fledged, pants-peeing ROFL machine.
It looks ridiculous. Aston’s marketing plan is basically “we’re bringing sexy to the super-efficient.” But instead of coming up with a new style that would make a small car look nice, they borrowed a Toyota iQ and slapped a mini version of their DB headlamps, tail lamps, and trademark shark-mouth grille on.
I have no idea what Aston Martin was thinking. This looks like Jay-Z’s gaudy golf car, not the smart little runabout James Bond uses to go buy condoms from the 24 hour CVS when his “real” Aston is too much trouble to drive.
Don’t get me wrong- I still believe the oxymoron of “tiny opulence” can be torn down. Land Rover’s proving that with their Evoque mini-SUV.
The difference there is that LR invented a totally new look for their little baby Rover, and it was designed to be small from the beginning so the style “works.” The Aston is a farce.
The Top Gear trio are with me as well — Clarkson and company expressed universal distaste for the pokey little thing on a recent episode of the show.
I think Aston should have gone the other way, and built the SUV they threatened enthusiasts with awhile back. Cough Cough.
But then again, that thing wouldn’t have brought down the company’s average carbon emissions would it? Ahh, we’re on to you Aston Martin.
So in case you give a shit: This rolling caricature is going to cost around $50,000, and will be built at the same Warwickshire temple from which beauties like DBS’s, DB9’s and the Vanquish were born.
And when I say the Cygnet will be “built”, I mean somebody from Aston will run to the Toyota dealer, buy an iQ, swap the bumpers and stick some carbon fiber over the cup holders.
The car will available only for purchase by current Aston Martin owners at first. This way they can hang on to exclusivity for a bit longer… but I have a feeling they won’t have anybody waiting in line anytime soon.
That’s right, another Brosnan Bond movie. Got a problem?
This might be the most unrealistic depiction of car usage I’ve seen in awhile, but it’s all the more entertaining for it.
It’s Bond in an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish and the villain in an supercharged Jag XKR (when it was still based on the limp-wristed XK8)… there’s your first bit of fiction right there; that car wouldn’t have a prayer of catching an Aston on asphalt or ice.
Speaking of ice, if you haven’t seen the movie the giant yellow deathray might throw you off a bit, don’t worry that’s just the sun’s energy harnessed to melt the Ice Hotel.
Then of course there are are volleys of bullets, missiles, and then Bond’s Aston bumps into two snowmobiles and sends them… flying?
Anyway the best part might be the end, when the villain ends up swimming in frozen water and gets one last cinematic “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” line before his demise-by-chandelier.
And even better, the clip is available in HD:
Brosnan’s costar Halle Berry didn’t make it into this scene, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy her here.
Does the short hair work for you guys?
During another hard procrastination session that I’m currently in the midst of, I lamented that this website hasn’t made a “Top Ten Movie Car Chases” list yet. You know, like a “Mr. Skin” for car fans.
[If you don't know what that is, send your kids out of the room (seriously) and take a look.]
But then I realized a “Top Ten” would never do- there are just way too many great car chases and it seems like Hollywood just keeps making more crazy ones every year.
So I’ve decided to post a good one up every time I think of it, for your entertainment.
The first installment of the series will be one that a lot of you have probably forgotten, but is still one of my favorites.
From the 1995 James Bond movie “GoldenEye” It’s the impromptu duel between Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in his trademark Aston Martin DB5 verses the so-ice-cold-she’s-hot Famke Janssen in a 90’s Ferrari. Unfortunately this clip isn’t of the best quality, and it cuts out the scene at the end where Bond pops open the center console to reveal a bottle of champagne… which is just about as pimp as it gets. But it will have to do for now.