Bertone Aston Martin Jet 2
The Ultimate Country Squire: New Shooting Brake Is The Granddaddy Of Wagons
All photos by Massimo Parrini
BERTONE ASTON MARTIN JET 2
BASE PRICE: $300,000 (est.)
POWERTRAIN: 6.0-liter, 460-hp, 400-lb-ft V12; rwd, six-speed sequential manual
CURB WEIGHT: 4080 pounds
0 to 60 MPH: 5.0 seconds (est.)
No, this isn’t the first time there has been a powerful Aston Martin shooting brake, but it is the first shooting brake made in Italy and based on the V12 Vanquish. Given the generally clumsy look of most modified luxury shooting brakes, this Turin-Gaydon alliance couldn’t help but be an improvement. (Swiss importer Roos Engineering has created a few, including a Series 3 Lagonda treatment from 1987 that defines horrible.)
The Jet 2 looks dramatically better in natural light and in motion than it did sitting still under the harsh fluorescent lights of the Geneva show.
As previous shooting brakes based on Astons have cost something just short of space-shuttle money to build, Bertone and its exterior design director, Giuliano Biasio, challenged themselves to create a lower-priced variety. A major part of the proposal was to make bespoke coachwork like this an easier reality by not messing with the crash-test points of the two-door Vanquish. This lessens the cost significantly for the builder and, in theory, for the buyer.
Jet 2 came about in the Stile Bertone offices in Capri, Italy, last year. "The Birusa [based on a BMW Z8 chassis] was stylistically much more of a pure Bertone show car," says Biasio. "Jet 2 is, in this sense, a more practical proposal that could readily be built in a limited run."
When we first saw the Jet 2 in Geneva, we thought the back end was a bit overdone, too self-consciously echoing the front end and dash. The entire outer shell has been modified, only the windscreen and the side glass taken straight from the Vanquish. Though the new skin is all fiberglass, a production version would be all aluminum. Biasio tells us, "Putting the Bertone edge into the traditionally curvaceous Aston styling language for a good British-Italian result was the chief challenge."
The fiberglass exterior has been modified from the prototype; production cars would be done in aluminum.
In-house at Bertone, the balance struck is called "stile tecnicismo" or techno styling. When they showed an early version of it to BMW last summer, both BMW design chief Chris Bangle and Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker loved it.
On the road that big-statement back end looks perfectly at home. The skylight roof (made of Plexiglas; in production it would be thermal glass) is a brilliant idea when done well, and Bertone does them well. As Jet 2 is still a prototype study, neither the hood nor tailgate can be lifted open, but both would be pushbutton easy and provide ample access.
The interior by David Wilkie is a remarkable creation. The gorgeous wood is form-bent pear, and together with the satin-finish aluminum touches, it hearkens back to the days on Lake Como in a Riva speedboat. Front seats, luxuriously reskinned to go with the chrome-sage exterior color, and the center fascia are pulled from the DB9, while the rest of the dash is pure Vanquish, with a specially modified dial cluster. The +2 seats in back, made possible by the added wheelbase, flip up from a folded position that sets their pear-wood backings flush with the rest of the wood-panel cargo area.
Inside is gorgeous pear wood and satin aluminum, with a dash that is pure Vanquish.
So, turn the key and press start. There’s that sound that launched 1000 ships. This 6.0-liter V12 through this exhaust might be our favorite modern 12-cylinder experience. We’ve driven it enough times now, sometimes directly after a Volkswagen W12 or Ferrari V12, and we feel like we can cozy right up to this beast. Apart from the less-than-impressive shift timings in normal mode from the six-speed sequential shifter using paddles on the steering wheel (sport mode solves that problem), the entire drive package is terrific. Seeing as the Lotus-created carbon fiber underpinnings and 19-inch wheels/tires are Vanquish equipment, this doesn’t surprise us.
The Vanquish pedal orientation naturally urges one to left-foot brake. As we rocketed along in the Jet 2 through the beautiful Susa Valley west of Turin, in such a high-performance state of mind, this felt like a total car that could and should be built for those who want a traditional, yet sensually styled shooting brake.
The Jet 2 as you see it here is a one-off, as are all such prototypes, said to be valued at $1.8 million. As a production model, the goal would be a price 30 percent higher than the standard two-door, or roughly $300,000.
IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS JET
It was a young Giorgio Giugiaro, then at Bertone, who created the original Jet concept based on a DB4 GT in 1961. The aero coupe was shown at the Geneva and Turin salons of that year, but sadly it was never produced. This study, which sits on the final 76th DB4 GT chassis, has been fully restored, and has gone on to win several awards at worldwide concours.
ASTON MARTIN SHOOTING BRAKES
There were 12 DB5 shooting brakes made—a prototype by Tickford in Newport Pagnell after the coachbuilder was bought by Aston Martin, and 11 more by Harold Radford’s facility in Hammersmith, London. It is perhaps the best-looking of all previous Aston shooting brakes.
Eight of these DB6s were made—two by FLM Panelcraft and six by Radford. One of the FLM Panelcraft shooters was used by F1 driver Innes Ireland as a demonstrator model on a daily basis, which had to be fun for the passengers.
Only one DBS made, for a Scottish client by FLM Panelcraft. Yuck.
1987 SERIES 3 LAGONDA
Again, thankfully only one Lagonda was ever built, by importer Beat Roos’ firm in Switzerland.
The Virage was the first shooting brake created mostly in-house at Aston Martin Lagonda Works Service; it marks a low point in company history.
1995 VIRAGE FIVE-DOOR
One made. Thank goodness.
This Virage was the first purely Aston Martin Lagonda Works Service shooter. It is not bad-looking.
1999 V8 VANTAGE
Though unattractive, the V8 Vantage shooting brake, again by Roos Engineering, is better than the earlier Lagonda attempt. The car also has an engine modified to 612 hp, making it technically the world’s fastest ugly thing.