Magazine article The Spectator

Lines of Beauty

Magazine article The Spectator

Lines of Beauty

Article excerpt

Perhaps we need the occasional humiliation to remind us that we are human, though for some of us daily life provides more than sufficient evidence. Turning right off the high street into a narrow yard, I stalled the unfamiliar car, blocking the road. Other motorists tolerated my first half-dozen attempts to reignite the beast, mainly I suspect out of curiosity. After another half-dozen goes interest turned to derision and exasperation.

Horns were thumped, comments offered. I couldn't blame them: what was such an obvious incompetent doing at the wheel of a machine like this, something they'd have given their eye teeth to drive? Eventually the engine roared and I shot into the yard, just missing the stone bollards. They'd have loved it if I hadn't.

A silver Aston Martin DBS with the registration number V12 AML is a far from inconspicuous car. During the next few days I felt I was the Beckhams on wheels:

almost everyone stared, many smiled, some waved. It is of course the James Bond car, prefigured by the two prototypes (one of which was written off) they used in the filming of Casino Royale. It is also one of the most beautiful of contemporary two-seaters, its sleek aluminium and carbon-fibre bodywork shrink-wrapped around flowing muscles, suggestive haunches and 20-inch wheels. Many cars look good from the front or in profile -- this one's profile is particularly fetching, with its seductive eyelid windows -- but few get the rear quite right. The DBS does, with just the perfect combination of svelte tapering and unashamed power.

It was also noticed for the sound it makes, which is like the outbreak of war. Its cheaper sibling, the V8 Vantage, is tuned to make an intoxicating whine and roar at high revs; the DBS does it automatically on ignition, a crackling explosion that blows bystanders away like autumn leaves, hands clasped over ringing ears. It's impossible to start it discreetly but you can arrive almost silently, with those fat, low-profile tyres deliciously crunching gravel. You can also arrive like a Tornado-strike on a bunker (I saw one once). Just remember to pick your hosts off the floor.

It's powered by Aston Martin's race-bred six-litre 510bhp V12, as used in their successful GT racers, the DBR9 and DBRS9. This makes it a road version of the former, with carbon-fibre brakes, the same bonded VH underframe and 85 per cent of the weight within the wheelbase. …

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