“Brutal” is not a word that design chiefs commonly trot out to describe their creations, but Marek Reichman, the design director of Aston Martin, applied it on Friday in reference to the V-12 Zagato concept, to be shown on Saturday at the Concorso d’Eleganza at the Villa d’Este in Italy.
The car commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Zagato-bodied Aston Martin DB4GT and GTZ, the first collaboration between the companies.
Most evident in the four-door Rapide sedan, Aston Martins have been getting longer and leaner. But with the V-12 Zagato, the company harks back to the more compact and muscular look of the DB4, the quintessential James Bond car.
The result is a design with serious pinup-poster potential.
Based on the mechanics of the V-12 Vantage, the Zagato concept highlights the Italian coachbuilder’s defining abilities to shape aluminum. It also wears Zagato’s trademark “double bubble” roof, ostensibly created to accommodate race drivers’ helmets.
Aston Martin said that the V-12 Zagato grew out of collaboration between the company’s own team, under Mr. Reichman, and designers at Zagato’s studio in Milan.
The car was fabricated using the traditional aluminum techniques for which Zagato is known. Seven distinct pieces of the metal are worked together to form each of the front wings, the company said, and each roof bubble consists of five pieces.
The fabrication necessitated the use of bucks — forms over which metal is bent or hammered — and the metal-bending device known as the English wheel, which custom coachbuilders and restorers employ to produce curves in sheet metal.
Aston Martin’s traditional side vents have morphed into huge vertical cuts in the skin, each held together with a single stitch of chrome. The body hunkers low to the pavement and the complex wheels form a mechanical mandala aimed to hold the eye.
The frame of the rear glass and the taillights echo shapes in the 1961 car, but the lamps are neatly inset into a slice taken off the rear corner, a gesture that emphasizes its voluptuousness. The line of the shoulders joins a lovely rear profile, which a race version of the car, scheduled to run the Nürburgring track in Germany on May 28, will necessarily mar with a wing.
Created following World War I, Zagato produced many cars in small editions for the aristocratic racers of the Italian GT circuit, gaining renown for its use of lightweight aluminum bodies.
Ercole Spada, the Zagato designer who reshaped the DB4 into the DB4GT, is an often overlooked figure who went on to supervise the design of two generations of important BMW production lines, including the 7 Series (produced through 1992) and 5 Series (produced through 1996.)
Most recent Zagato products have been one-offs for individual collectors. But Aston Martin ambitiously hopes to return to its practice of earlier decades and sell these cars for the road and for the track.
The racing version of the V-12 Zagato is scheduled to make a return trip to the Nürburgring in late June and compete in the 24-hour race. For now, the concept car is being shown at Villa d’Este to gauge customer interest.