SOMEWHERE ON THIS PLANET, there are 99 people — 99 wealthy, well-connected, impeccably dressed people — who have just been offered a new reason to flash a perfect smile. For it so happens that Aston Martin, the 10th coolest brand in Britain, has announced plans to build precisely that many examples of its mythologically pretty Vanquish Zagato coupé. The price for such privilege is something close to £500,000, but that hardly matters: They’re all sold out, all of them — gone before they printed the press release.
This news represents a minor trend among makers of exotic cars: announcing in a single breath both the availability and the unavailability of some special new model, thanks to the secret cadre of connected customers that snapped up the entire production run before you got out of bed. They are new cars that are, in essence, born used. Ferrari did it with its €2.5m LaFerrari-based FXXK, Porsche did it with the limited-edition 911R, and Lamborghini did it with the £1.7m Centenario. From a business perspective, this kind of announcement — which may be unique to the car industry — serves to demonstrate the essential desirability of a company and its products. From a consumer-psychology perspective, however, it’s a downer.
The production Vanquish Zagato — which in truth is little more than a lusciously Italianised rework of the none-too-homely Vanquish coupé — will be a dead ringer for Aston’s retina-burning concept version. It marks the eighth time the British carmaker has collaborated with the Milan-based Italian design house since 1960, all of which have proven rather desirable. (A 1962 example of the first Aston Zagato car, the DB4GT Zagato, sold at auction in New York last December for £9.5m).
The body work is crafted entirely from carbon-fibre composite (the standard car features a mix of aluminium, magnesium alloy and carbon panels), and the Zagato makes use of an up-tuned version of the standard Vanquish’s 568-horsepower, 6-litre V12 engine. Aston has not revealed official performance figures, but the extra horses, 592 in all, should be sufficient to trim the zero-to-60mph sprint by a half-second or so, to 3.5, and bump the top speed from 183mph to something closer to 200mph.
Beneath that double-bubble roof, herringbone carbon fibre and anondised bronze bits define a mildly revised cockpit, and a Matrix-like cascade of stitched and embossed Zs serve as a continual reminder that, unlike you, the driver is one of the annointed Zagato 99.
Which brings us back to the single, difficult bullet point on the Vanquish Zagato announcement that obfuscates all the others: It’s sold out. Even for those who lack the liquidity to buy a half-million-pound car if they so desired, which is pretty much everyone, too-bad-so-sad product announcements like this suggest that even with hard work and/or a healthy trust fund, you still can’t have what you want. It removes the “what if?” from the experience of appreciating such cars, and that’s a regrettable loss. The poster on our bedroom wall wasn’t somebody else’s car; it was ours.