2009 Aston Martin DBS: Automotive Inspiration
Aston Martin‘s history is of gorgeous design wedded to a racing engineer’s heart. These cars take your breath away, on the stand or on the road, even being crashed in James Bond films. Should I happen to find my life situation seeing the overwhelming change that would be needed to afford supporting a more than $300,000 DBS, would I? Maybe. As fantastic as these vehicles are, somehow they often get left off my what-if daydreams. They’re so beautiful, so expensive, and a sufficiently rare sight on my Midwestern roads that they can slip by. And there are so many terrific options these days it is only more and more difficult to choose. It truly is a wonderful time to dream, and in Frankfurt I was reminded to expand those dreams.
As time came to replace the Vanquish, Aston looked to the VH platform under the DB9 and V8 Vantage coupe and roadster with its bonded, pressed, extruded, and cast aluminum components. After providing a sneak peak of the DBS first in one of the most amazing crash scenes ever filmed in Casino Royale and again at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California (where Aston was this year’s featured marque), the car’s first auto show outing was at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show in September. The DBS is being built at Gaydon, near Warwickshire, alongside its DB9 and V8 Vantage siblings, rather than the Newport Pagnell facility where the Vanquish had been built. It will be available during the first several months of 2008.
This lightweight structure holds its engine in a front-mid position and the transaxle in the rear for a near-perfect weight distribution, and 85 percent of its weight between the axles. That attention-getting DBS body is dressed with more carbon fibre body panels than any other production Aston. The DBS is naturally agile, strong, and stable, with its balance giving it low polar moment of inertia. DBS should display, then, little under- or oversteer, which occurs when the vehicle’s weight shifts under acceleration, braking, and cornering. And a balanced chassis is a wonderful thing to have underneath a powerful V12.
Technology supporting the DBS includes a new Adaptive Damping System with two separate valves setting the damper in five positions. Suspension is automatically adjusted for maximum control, but can be softer for better ride quality or firmer for better body control. As to choosing between soft and firm, and all the variations between, an ECU reads system elements, including throttle position, brake position, steering wheel rotation, and vehicle speed, to evaluate driving conditions and just how spirited the driver has become. Weekend racers will be pleased by the ADS Track setting, putting all elements at their firmest, and for the ability to set the stability control at a Track mode for a higher threshold or to turn it off altogether.
While DBR9 and DBRS9 racing cars use 600HP versions of the company’s 6.0L V12 (hand built in Cologne, Germany), the DBS gets a detuned, 510HP version. Aston takes a trick from Mercedes and Porsche in giving the DBS ceramic brakes, for fade resistance, less weight, and shorter stopping distances versus conventional brake materials.
Not many drivers will get the chance to own or drive this Aston, but many will admire and imagine it. For those of us not on Forbes’ top 400, such beauty, engineering, and luxury inspires dreams. And in my dreamworld, I am in need of more garage space than living space. The garage might hold, of today’s crop of sports and supercars, Bentley Continental GT Speed (also introduced in Frankfurt), Aston DBS, Porsche Cayman, BMW 135i convertible and M Coupe, and Audi’s latest TT and R8. Representing my hometown, and really one of the better values in this lot, would be a Chevrolet Corvette Z07.
While I’m dreaming, a sparkling little thing from the Jaeger-LeCoultre catalog Aston gave out at their Frankfurt party also caught my eye. Jaeger-LeCoultre makes many works of art masquerading as timepieces; several are interesting, some outrageous, and many beautiful, but it was the Joaillerie 101 collection, specifically the Riviere model and its white gold and diamonds, that caught my eye. The introductory piece for this collection at their site (www.jaeger-lecoultre.com) shows a baguette diamond band with stones matched to the width of the small, elegant watch face. The look is almost as stunning as these vehicles. With a price determined by the quality and cut of the stones (the site shows several options), it can also be more expensive than several of these cars. Why not daydream big?