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Old 10-06-2003, 07:45   #1 (permalink)
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E.U.:Upcoming DB9 coupe marks a new start for Aston Martin

By BRADFORD WERNLE | Automotive News Europe

FRANKFURT -- The first production versions of the Aston Martin DB9 GT coupe will be made at an all-new factory in Gaydon, England, in January.

The 2+2 DB9 sports car will be the first car built on Aston Martin's new VH (vertical-horizontal) platform. The platform will also carry the Aston Martin Vantage V8, due to arrive in 2005, and eventually the next generation Vanquish, Aston's most expensive car.

Aston Martin officials like to describe DB9 as the car that is relaunching the company. Aston Martin is the smallest and most exclusive brand in Ford's Premier Automotive Group.

The DB9 will go on sale in the UK and Europe in April or May, followed by the U.S. in early autumn. To prepare for the DB9, Aston Martin is expanding its dealer network from about 100 dealers now to 140 by 2005, selling in 35 countries.

Spokesman Tim Watson said Aston's primary expansion would be in the Middle East and Asia. The company's goal is to sell about 5,000 cars a year once it has a three-car lineup.

For now, the DB9 will be the biggest seller. About 2,200 will be built next year, along with about 300 Vanquishes.

Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez said the company has come a long way since its low point in 1993, when it made only 43 cars.

The DB9 will be hand-built at Gaydon. Aston Martin's have been hand-built at the Newport Pagnell and Bloxham factories, but both will eventually close.

Aston Martin claims the DB9 body frame is the most structurally efficient in the world. Body panels are made of aluminum or other light-weight materials. Magnesium is used in the steering column and gear shifter paddles.
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