Morecambe and Wise, Holmes and Watson, Bert and Ernie... Aston Martin and Zagato go together about as well as any two things you care to think of. The iconic British manufacturer and legendary Italian coachbuilder have, after all, partnered on more hits than Simon and Garfunkel over the decades; from the stunning DB4 GT of 1960, to the turn-of-the-millennium DB7, and the recent Vanquish foursome to the upcoming continuation couple.
While this PH dealer has a pretty impressive selection of those cars for sale, there was one in particular which caught our eye: the V12 Zagato. Arguably the most beautiful of the modern Zagatos, it's a model made all the more appealing by the existence of a bonafide race version.
Track-based success was, of course, the original reason for the collaboration; Zagato's lighter, more aerodynamic bodies intended to give Aston's DB4 GT a leg up on track. And while Zagatos have gone racing since, the V12 is the only factory-backed effort this century. Two cars, nicknamed Zig and Zag, were entered into both the VLN series and 24-hour races at the Nurburgring in 2011, with drivers including Aston's then-CEO, Dr. Ulrich Bez, and One-77 Chief Engineer, Chris Porritt. The near-production machines - modified only to include crucial aerodynamic and safety features - came home 2nd and 3rd in class in the VLN, and 5th and 6th in the N24, both very respectable results indeed.
The absence of the racer's gargantuan rear diffuser, exposed exhausts and enormous wing means the road car's styling doesn't quite hit the same high notes, rather its hand-formed aluminium body presents a timelessly elegant silhouette. It's a sensational design and, despite the beauty of Zagato Astons both before and since, the V12 continues to represent the most appealing balance between the two companies' ethoses - to these eyes, at any rate.
Of course, no discussion of any V12 Vantage would be complete without mention of its engine. With the same 5.9-litre unit first used in the previous DBS crammed beneath the bonnet of Aston's sweetest-driving model, its 517hp and 420lb ft were enough to see 62mph in just 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 190mph. Throw a six-speed manual 'box, rear-wheel drive and re-tuned double-wishbone suspension into the mix, and the result was one of the most enthralling driving machines money could buy. Quite a lot of money, as it turned out, the V12 costing £330,000 plus tax when new.
And what of this specific example? Well, as one of just 18 right-hand drive cars - from a total of 61 worldwide - its combination of Diavolo Red paint and Obsidian Black interior makes it one of the prettiest as well as the rarest. As a fantastic driver's car, successful racing machine, sought after collector's item and promising investment opportunity, then, the V12 Zagato is quintessential Showpiece fodder.