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The Beautiful Lovechildren Of Aston Martin And Zagato

Aston Martin recently took the wraps off the Vanquish Zagato and sweetened the deal even further with the reveal of the Volante version. But as achingly beautiful as these latest twelve-cylinder super-GTs may be, they're not the first fruits of collaboration between the British automaker and the Italian coachbuilder. In fact Aston Martin and Zagato have been teaming up periodically since 1960 and over the course of the past six decades, they have produced six major projects together, many of them emerging in multiple bodystyles. The total is easily one of the greatest confluences of creativity the automotive industry has ever produced and has resulted in some of the most gorgeous creations ever to be rendered in sheetmetal, carbon fiber, or any other material from which you might sculpt the bodywork of a sports car or grand tourer. Join us below for a curated drive through the archives from Gaydon and Newport Pagnell to Milan.

1960 DB4 GT Zagato

Aston Martin's first collaboration with Zagato came in the form of the DB4 GT in 1960. A contemporary of the Ferrari 250 GT and Jaguar E-Type, the DB4 GT Zagato raced in its day – albeit with limited success. Its real accomplishment came in the form of its timelessly curvaceous lines, leaving it widely regarded as one of the most beautiful automobiles ever created. It's surprising, then, that Aston had trouble selling out even the limited production allotment of 25 cars. Only 19 were originally built, but decades later the remaining six examples were completed for customers who'd come to appreciate Zagato's original design.

1985 V8 Vantage Zagato & Volante Zagato

It would be decades before Aston and Zagato would team up again, and by the 1980s design tastes had changed considerably. Aston had forsaken the classical designs of its earlier DB series in favor of the muscular form of the V8 models, and Zagato had moved on to more wedge-shaped designs. When they got back together, the result was completely different from the DB4. All angular and distinctly of the Malaise Era, the V8 Zagato was powered by – you guessed it – a V8 engine, displacing 5.3 liters. In total, 52 examples of the coupe were made, followed by another 37 drop-top V8 Volante Zagato convertibles.

2002 DB7 Zagato & DB-AR1

Another couple of decades went by before the two powerhouses met up again, this time to convert the DB7 that have redefined Aston yet again. From six cylinders in the first Aston Zagato to eight in the second, the third packed twelve – in the same 6.0-liter form that the company still employs. In typical style, Zagato gave the DB7 an even more elegant form, on a shorter wheelbase. This time 100 examples were made, and were followed by another 99 roadsters built exclusively for the US market under the name DB-AR1.

2011 V12 Zagato

Gaydon and Milan didn't wait around for their next confluence, teaming back up for the V12 Zagato. The model debuted in concept form in 2009 and entered production in 2011, based on the Vantage, but with fresh bodywork and that same twelve-cylinder engine. 99 bodies-in-white were crafted by the coachbuilder and completed by the automaker, this time forgoing the roadster versions that resulted from the previous two collaborations.

2013 Centennial Editions

Aston Martin celebrated its centenary in 2013, and its longtime Latin partner marked the occasion with a series of unique one-offs. Zagato created a coupe based on the DBS and a convertible on the DB9, both stylistically following along the lines (albeit modernized) of the 1980s specials instead of the 1960s original – and both sold to private individuals. One client evidently ended up feeling left out, though, so the following year, they created a third example – this time based on the Virage (which was positioned briefly in between the DB9 and DBS) and taking the form of a shooting brake, but following the same design theme.

2016 Vanquish Zagato

It's only been a few short years since Aston's centennial celebrations. But in a sign of the legendary status which the Aston-Zagato partnership has acquired, the two seized the opportunity to team up again to transform the Vanquish just as they had the DB4, V8, DB7, Vantage and DB9/DBS/Virage before. Displayed at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este earlier this year, the Vanquish Zagato has since been confirmed for production. Shortly thereafter – just a few days ago – the two showcased a Volante convertible version. Because if the long history of their joint efforts have taught us anything – and with due recognition to Zagato's signature double-bubble roofline – it's that what looks good on Aston Martin underpinnings with Italian coachwork looks even better as a convertible.
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