Aston Martin and Zagato have enjoyed a long but fitful association. They first collaborated in 1960, when the British carmaker asked the Italian coachbuilder to reinvent its DB4GT competition model for the following season. Despite its success, but no doubt on account of the small number of cars built, it would be another 25 years before a fresh partnership between the two companies came about, this time in the shape of the controversial Vantage V8.
Subsequently, the two brands had some dealings with each other for tiny numbers of cars, but in general, Zagato specialized in working on Aston Martin’s most exclusive models, adding a final touch to them and creating some highly sought-after special series.
Its condition and probably unique specification make this Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato coupé an exceptional example of this outstanding supercar, the ultimate expression of automotive exclusivity as defined by this Anglo-Italian partnership of two legendary companies.
|Vehicle:||2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato|
|Number Produced:||325 (99 coupes)|
|Tune Up Cost:||$2,500|
|Chassis Number Location:||Window in windscreen|
|Engine Number Location:||Plate on bonnet shut panel|
|Club Info:||Aston Martin Owners Club|
|Alternatives:||2009 Ferrari 550 GTZ barchetta, 2011 Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale, 2013–14 Lamborghini Veneno|
This car, Lot 17, sold for $499,067, (€429,120), including buyer’s premium, at Artcurial’s Paris auction on October 24, 2021.
Zagato only bodied 19 DB4GTs (one of them twice), but that started an enduring partnership with Aston Martin. It took another 25 years for the next Aston/Zagato collaboration to appear, a brutal-looking bulldog on a shortened V8 floorpan. About 52 V8 Zagato coupes and 37 convertibles were built from 1986 to 1990.
After that, there was a further hiatus until the DB7 Zagato was presented at the Paris Motor Show in 2002 and its DB AR1 roadster version at the Los Angeles Auto Show the same year. Both were a limited series of just 99 cars. This followed a period in which Aston created several little-known one-offs for wealthy clients, essentially to keep the lights on at Newport Pagnell before Ford money arrived. Some were created with the help of Zagato, some with Bertone. But generally speaking, the Lombardy coachbuilder has created special versions of models near the end of their run, adding a final touch and guaranteeing collectibility with its distinctive style.
Do it again
It was a natural fit, then, for Aston to mark the run-out of its Vanquish (launched 2001) with a Zagato version, though this time the numbers are much larger: 99 each of the coupe, convertible and shooting brake, plus 28 speedsters, for a total of 325 cars. All sit on the stock Vanquish “VH Generation III” chassis, though with the Ford Duratec-derived 6.0-liter V12 turned up to near 600 horses, driving through an 8-speed automatic that’s nicer to use than the original Vanquish’s sometimes clunky 6-speeder, all giving a claimed 201 mph. The concept was launched at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como, Italy, in May 2016.
The carbon-fiber Vanquish Zagato is more successful aesthetically than the 2011 Vantage-based V12 Zagato, as well as the bloated-looking AR1, which is possibly even unhappier in appearance than the Ferrari 550 and 575 Zagatos (though the in-house One-77 of 2008 was better). Perhaps the shark-suited creations from Lamborghini and Ferrari inspired designers Marek Reichman and Andrea Zagato to raise their game.
Unique and complete
Our subject car is number 20 of the 99 coupes, and unusual in solid Rosso Corsa. This car also has the optional Villa d’Este pack: 15-spoke 20-inch wheels finished in black and bronze, black brake calipers, anodized bronze side strakes and gloss-black window surrounds. Inside, the trademark quilted and Z-embossed Zagato leather, in black and red, includes the headlining on Villa d’Este pack cars. The air vent surrounds and seat-belt guides are finished in bronze too.
It was delivered new by the Aston Martin dealership in Luxembourg to its first owner in June 2017, before it was bought in 2019 by the collector vendor, who was good enough to throw in a post-sale service to bring the maintenance schedule up to date. Still with a Luxembourg title, it retained all its accessories: car cover in branded storage bag, battery maintainer, umbrella, first-aid kit, service book and two spare keys.
Collectible, but an investment?
The frequency with which these cars come on to the market — often with little more than delivery mileage — suggests they are being bought as investments. However, if the first owners ordered them hoping to make a quick buck, they haven’t been so lucky. From a list price of around $900,000, the market appears to have settled on either side of $600k. Lowest retail in the U.K. last month was £400k, or about $530k, for a 2,700-mile coupe.
The exception is an owner I met last summer at an Aston Martin Owners Club meeting who’d bought a Zagato shooting brake as his first Aston — and actually uses it. He’s put 3,500 miles on it in the first month of ownership, while carrying just enough luggage for touring. He runs a business selling Aston Martin wheels and was pleased to find he can fit one or two in the tiny load area. In fact, he had brought one along for a client that weekend. But he is the exception; our 3,680-km (2,282-mile) subject car can be considered relatively high mileage.
Interestingly, in a world where soft-tops usually sell for twice as much as coupes, there appears little difference in value between the four body styles. All feature the bonkers Starship Enterprise-style taillights that sold our high-mileage shooting-brake owner on his car.
“Cheap” for three reasons
Offered at no reserve, this car was — on the face of it — the cheapest Vanquish Zagato that we’ve seen. I’ll put that down to several reasons. Of course, there is the highish mileage. The color, though bright, looked flat compared with the other unique hues available. This was accentuated by the bronze trimming. “Individual” is all very well for the first owner, not so great when the time comes to move it on. It could have been worse here, as the willingness of small-volume car makers to finish a car in any combination the buyer desires has resulted in some real horrors. Let’s remind ourselves again that cars can’t choose their owners.
The last reason is a fairly substantial tax liability potentially and, ironically, more miles might have helped here. Under EU rules, as it had been driven less than 6,000 km (about 3,700 miles), it qualified as “new” for VAT purposes, meaning an extra 20% to pay if it stays in the EU. That’s on the whole purchase price, meaning that for the French buyer, the effective price was up near the $600k benchmark. This begs the question why anybody would buy a modern supercar at auction when there are plenty available at retail for less money, with the added protection of buying from a dealer in case of unforeseen issues. I suppose if you happened to be there in Paris and the money was unimportant…
I suspect this sale may not peg the low point in Vanquish Zagato values before they start to appreciate, due to that fairly large production run. In which case the seller was shrewd to get out when they could. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of Artcurial.)