A selection of the best cars to come from the Aston Martin and Zagato’s six-decade-long partnership
The relationship between Aston Martin and Zagato stretches back over half a century, and in that time, the pair have thrown up more than their fair share of stunning machinery. Well, most of the time, anyway. In re-interpreting an Aston Martin in the way that only an Italian coachbuilder can, the results have sometimes been, shall we say, not to everyone’s liking.
Even if the products themselves haven’t always gone down well with the general buying public, nobody can deny they’re striking, distinctive and unmistakably a product of the Milanese carrozzeria’s studios. Oh, and like the DBZ Centenary Collection detailed earlier, every Zagato-bodied Aston Martin has been produced in highly limited quantities. Picking the top three out of well over a dozen Aston Martin Zagatos hasn’t been easy, but here you go.
Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
The one that started it all the way back in 1960. Where the donor car, the DB4 GT, was destined to be a homologation special and all the butch accoutrements that entailed, the Zagato edition was somewhat different. Nominally based on the same car, the Italians smoothed out the original car’s hard lines in favour of some Latin curves. Most notably, the angular haunches were rounded off and the size of the bonnet vent was reduced in size. Still a purposeful car, no doubt, but now one wearing a tailored Italian suit.
Even more interesting is the DB4 GT Zagato’s line were penned by one Ercole Spada. The man who would go on to achieve greatness with the iconic E32-generation BMW 7 Series, E34-generation BMW 5 Series and Alfa Romeo 155 was, at the time of the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato’s design, only six months into his apprenticeship at the coachbuilder.
Originally, 25 DB4 GT Zagatos were planned, but the initial production run in the 1960s yielded just 19 examples. Production of the remaining six cars would only resume in 1987, with four being made from that year through 1991. The final two cars would be made from 1992, the so-called ‘Sanction III’ models.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato
If you were to name examples of supercar excesses in the 1980s, most would overlook the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. While it technically made its debut in the late 1970s, production continued through that roaring decade, and the car was only replaced in 1989.
But the wildest of them all was the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato, produced in both hard-top coupe and soft-top Volante forms. It revived the Aston Martin-Zagato relationship after a 30-year hiatus, a relationship many had thought dormant.
Unfortunately, by Aston Martin’s own admission, “many were not overly impressed by the final styling of the new Zagato”, though that didn’t stop all 52 coupes and 37 convertibles from selling out. But why we think this drew so much ire from the public was because it was a complete departure from its predecessor, both in styling and intent.
Where the original Aston Martin Zagato was elegant and flowing, this one took the already steroidal V8 Vantage and upped the testosterone still further. Its slab-sided body was crafted with aerodynamics and lightness in mind, with a shorter wheelbase, lack of rear seats and conventional windows replaced with tiny quarter-panes.
The bonnet’s prominent power bulge was also a point of contention, though its purpose was far from cosmetic. The larger carburetors found underneath, along with the aforementioned slippery body was a key reason why the car could hit an astounding (for the time) 300km/h.
Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake
Arguably the least desirable of any Aston Martin Zagato, owing to their relatively common nature, the Vanquish Zagatos are also arguably the most desirable aesthetically. Yes, that’s right, Vanquish Zagato in the plural. The collection comprises four cars, with Zagato interpreting the Aston Martin Vanquish supercar in its own inimitable style across a quartet of bodystyles. Namely, coupe, convertible, speedster and shooting brake, with a total of 325 examples made — 99 of each, except for 28 speedsters.
While some will point to the speedster as the prettiest of the lot, and there certainly is some merit to that notion, we think the best executed is the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. Essentially a two-door station wagon used by the well-heeled for their hunting trips (hence the name), the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is just, well, striking.
It’s a bodystyle so easy to get wrong. It could look oddly bulbous like the Ferrari FF, or if its roofline is just a touch too tall, it could end up looking like a hearse. But the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake has us all weak at the knees. The arc of the rear haunches running parallel with the downward swoop of the roofline at the C-pillar is just… perfection.