At age 12, I tried to make a deal with a family friend to buy his then-new 1966 Aston MartinDB6: When I turned 18, he would sell it to me for $10,000. Based on the car’s original purchase price of $15,400, this seemed like a fair offer at the time. Humoring me, he agreed to the deal and we shook on it.
Of course, the deal was soon forgotten, but my preteen, James Bond–fueled fascination with the Aston Martin survives to this day. So when the brand-new 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish—the model that was revived in 2012 as a 5.9-liter, V-12 replacement for the flagship DBS—recently came to New Jersey, I immediately cleared my schedule for a test drive.
My first glance at the monochrome onyx-black masterpiece gave me chills. Compared to the 2006 Vanquish S, the profile of the new edition has been updated with more-futuristic folds, sculpted accents, and a discreetly integrated rear spoiler. Every body panel is made from aerospace-grade carbon fiber, a super-strong material that also yields a body 25 percent lighter than that of the DBS, giving the Vanquish a vastly different drive quality. In fact, the construction alone almost justifies the $282,110 base price. Buyers can choose to show off the herringbone-like surface or opt for a spectacular paint job to accent, rather than conceal, the vehicle’s carbon fiber exterior.
Inside, the leather seating and appointments are worthy of a polo champion’s saddle and tack. Bisecting a dash swathed in hand-stitched leather, the center console cradles a spectacular touch-sensitive glass control panel, with a swing-up navigation screen and controls for climate and telematics. Behind the wheel, the car feels snug, comfortable, and less cavernous than previous editions.
An afternoon sprint on some lightly traveled rural roads in South Jersey demonstrated the true character of Aston Martin. At this price and with these luxury amenities, the Vanquish is certainly a gentleman’s auto. But with 565 horsepower underfoot and the ZF six-speed paddle shifter at my fingertips, this car has the guts and growl of a hot rod. Even traveling at a brisk pace across a promontory topped with some old railroad tracks couldn’t shake the coupe’s solid rear-wheel footing. On straightaways the Vanquish does drag-strip tricks, and on twisting turns at considerable speed it handles with the alacrity of a Formula One racer.
Production at Aston Martin is up from where it was in 1994, when the company was acquired by Ford, but today, under private ownership, it still caters to the elite. The Vanquish’s price tag limits the buyer pool, but then again, would you really want to see another on the road while driving yours? As for my $10,000 childhood dream car, a 1966 Aston Martin DB6 was recently sold at auction for $489,500. But for today’s Vanquish buyer, resale value is a minor consideration compared to the thrill of driving this coveted machine. F.C. Kerbeck, 100 Rt. 73 N., Palmyra, NJ, 888-564-3041