Christmas is coming, so permit me to get all indulgent a little early, because a couple of nights ago Christmas arrived early for me in the form of Aston Martin’s new design studio opening event in Gaydon, Warwickshire. Instead of a full-on serious report, let me take you on a little journey into the supercar company’s fantasy land…
Fully functioning after its sell off from former parent Ford, last night was about Aston showing what it was capable of when left to stand on its own two feet - which in brief is building a new eco-friendly design studio in seven months flat, and dropping a whopping V12 engine into its Vantage coupe, creating the 'Vantage RS'.
Before we got inside, be-suited valet parking attendants were on hand to safely tuck away the procession of DB7s, DB9s, Vantages and even the odd Punto (guess who’s that was?!) that gently made it up the winding gravel drive. Inside, the most elegant ladies handed out tiny black cards, although sadly these only detailed the evening’s events, and not operation instructions for the James Bond-style toys that appeared in the goody bag. Crossing the bridge over the water pools outside the main building, we stood and goggled at the automotive pornography on show – Vantages, DB9s, Zagatos, DB4 – seemingly suspended above the water, and beginning to sparkle with crisp, hard middle-england frost. Inside the door, Dr. Bez (CEO of Aston) – greeted each guest in turn, before allowing them to stumble into a Bond-movie casino scene – 3 brand new DBS’s lined up in a row, and surrounded by the most exquisitely tailored men and women one will find this side of Milan. Was I dreaming? You half-expected to see Odd-job appear on the mezzanine up-high, above the icebar. But as if to remind us that this is a modern, changed Aston, and that we are firmly in 2007, Daniel Craig was ushered past into a VIP section.
By now, our bottom jaws were flapping somewhere around our ankles, but that was before we were ushered through to the design studio itself – to be fed exquisite beef and salmon canapés, washed down by lashings of Bolinger – naturally. This was all served up by waitresses who one could only assume had been picked to distract the male eyes in the room for long enough to stop them drooling on the DB9s and Vantage Roadsters that we now stood amongst, and pawed with sticky fingers.
By the time Dr. Bez delivered his speech which perhaps contained Aston Martin’s tag line of ‘power, beauty, soul’ once too often, no one really cared. We were all too enveloped in the lifestyles that Aston were helping us all too easily imagine we were really part of. That the Vantage RS concept seemed to be nothing more than a Vantage with a V12 engine and some ill-advised tuning shop-type modifications came as a mild disappoint – but that was before we were shown the ‘real’ James Bond section. In one long room sits the stuff of little (and many not so little) boy’s dreams. The record breaking ‘barrel-rolling’ DBS from Casino Royale, the (not so) ‘invisible’ Vanquish from Die Another Day, and the DB5 from Goldeneye to name a few. Much sillyness and frivolity ensued, as you might imagine.
I was going to write a serious bit here – but I’m afraid I’m still living in a fantasy land, trying to work out how I can get to play James Bond every day by getting my hands on one of these cars. As yet the best plan I’ve come up with is the proverbial bank-robbing. Suffice to say that Aston Martin’s new owners seem to have a pretty good handle on what it is that has made this - ultimately tiny – company the ‘coolest’ brand in the world for the past couple of years. If they continue to create around their products the type of ultimate-lifestyle experience we were shown last night, while continuing to build some of the prettiest, most well-detailed, and beautifully hand crafted vehicles in the world – then their future looks bright - for the time being, at least.
Images: Joseph Simpson. Via thetrickytree on flickr, where more are available - please feel free to use via creative commons license, crediting "Joseph Simpson / Movement Design Bureau" and linking to this page.
Posted by Simpson; Joseph Simpson on 13th December 2007