Aston Martin set to unveil three all-new aluminum-chassis sports cars
By JULIAN RENDELL
FORD-OWNED ASTON Martin is just weeks away from unveiling the first of three all-new aluminum-chassis sports cars. Aston’s DB9, its replacement for the DB7, debuts at September’s Frankfurt motor show. The DB9 Volante soft-top bows at the Los Angeles show in late December. Rounding out the trio is the V8 Vantage, Aston’s $70,000 Porsche 911-chaser, due late next year.
The three represent a significant overhaul of Aston’s model line under former BMW and Porsche engineer Ulrich Bez. All three are based on the same lightweight bonded and riveted platform as the new Vanquish, with styling work by Henrik Fisker, Aston’s design boss, who recently returned to California to oversee Ford’s advanced concept studio.
The prototypes show the taut dimensions of the new Aston look, which updates the styling developed in the mid-’90s by Ian Callum, now at Jaguar.
The DB9 Coupe is a major step forward from the DB7, Aston’s staple model since 1996, which traces its platform to the 1970s Jaguar XJS. Occupying the same road space as a DB7, the DB9 2+2’s wheels are pushed farther toward the corners to free up interior space and improve handling and high-speed stability. The body of bonded alloy extrusions and exterior panels is much stiffer than the DB7, creating a rigid platform for the new independent suspension. The curb weight is targeted at 3740 pounds, 220 pounds lighter than a Vanquish.
DB9’s power comes from an updated 5.9-liter Cosworth-designed V12, with peak output in excess of 440 hp, mated to either an automatic or six-speed manual. A top speed close to 180 mph and sub-5.0-second 0-to-60-mph times are expected. DB9 Coupe sales start next spring in Britain, with the Volante following about six months later.
The role of sharp, driver-focused two-seater will fall to the V8 Vantage. The finished car is very close to the V8 Vantage concept named AutoWeek’s Most Fun when it was unveiled at the Detroit show last January. Pitched squarely at the Porsche 911, it will feature V8 power from an Aston-engineered version of sister company Jaguar’s AJ V8.
Aston sources claim the engine is “virtually all-new” and promise some technical “surprises.” Peak power is expected at around 360 hp, which should propel the approximately 3100-pound V8 Vantage to Porsche-rivaling velocities. A soft-top V8 Vantage Volante also is approved for production in early 2005.
(Left Photo)V8 Vantage (Photo © 2003 John Johnson)
(Right Photo)DB9 Coupe (Photo © 2003 John Johnson)
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....