How do you celebrate a car company’s birthday? James Bond’s favorite car, Aston Martin, is turning 100 next year, so a celebration is in order. Aston’s executives decided to go with a special edition model, rather than a giant cake. How special will this car be?
Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez says the centennial car will be an “entirely new model,” but for this British company, that term is relative. Like Porsche with the 911, Aston has mastered the art of turning one car into many cars. The DB9 gets a body kit and some mechanical tweaks to become either a Virage or a DBS, depending on how much performance a customer wants. Aston also adds two doors to the DB9 to get a Rapide.
Consequently, it is more than likely that the “new” Aston will be based on an existing model. Nonetheless, Bez says the car “won’t be a DB9 with a Centenary Edition badge and it won’t be a limited edition like the One-77 supercar. This will be a mainstream Aston.” The One-77 was a hypercar with over 700 horsepower pumped out of a 7.3-liter V12; only 77 were made. That would make one hell of a birthday present.
It is also possible that Aston will use its centennial to launch a new or revamped model from its existing line, instead of building a one year-only special edition. The next-generation DBS, which will replace the car Bond drove in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, is expected soon. The DBS is sportiest Aston Martin, and the new version will reportedly have 550 hp. A big anniversary would be the perfect time to unleash it.
Whatever the new car ends up being, it will not be a radical change for Aston Martin. According to Bez, the centennial model will look a lot like current Astons. “The best cars stand the test of time,” he says, “You need evolution in design, not constant change.” Bez wants Aston to follow the strategy Porsche uses with the 911 by keeping styling changes minimal. The current range of Astons are probably the best looking cars on the road, so that will work for now. At some point, Aston’s design may have to try something new so customers don’t get bored.
More often than not companies celebrate important milestones with “special” models that are nothing more than extra badges, new wheels, and different paint. Chevrolet recently celebrated its centennial with a special edition Corvette Z06. The all-black centennial edition looked pretty sinister, but also a bit funereal. Other than the paint, it wasn’t that different from a regular Z06.
Hopefully, whatever Aston Martin is brewing up for its 100th birthday will be more significant than that. Special editions are usually rip-offs, but that doesn’t mean this Aston has to be.