Showpiece of the Week: Aston Martin Vantage Zagato

Love it or loathe it, there's certainly no mistaking the Aston Martin Vantage Zagato for anything else. Even more than 30 years after launch, and in the current time of seemingly unprecedented automotive design, the Zag stands out as something distinctive, quirky and unusual. Perhaps not conventionally pretty, granted, though not wanting for anything in terms of presence.

A few years back Chris Harris wrote a missive in defence of the Zagato, a car he'd fallen in love with in 1987 thanks to Car Magazine. Even without having driven one at the time, he ventured to suggest it "might be one of the coolest cars of the 1980s". The responses were as you might expect; the fourth comment said the Vantage was "the best of Zagato's modern works", while the post immediately after suggested it was "one of the worst looking Astons ever". If it's one thing then, the Zagato, it's certainly divisive. And if a car is going to have a bespoke, coachbuilt body, then it may well be one that stands out - right?

Just 89 were built in total, the Vantage production run split between 52 coupes and 37 convertibles, so this big red beast is certainly a rare car. As you might have guessed, however, this Zagato is a little bit different - it's a racer.

It's still a road legal racer, though, representing perhaps the best of both worlds. In fact this is the first right-hand drive Vantage Zagato produced and was once owned by Rowan Atkinson. He purchased the car in 1998 and converted it to racing spec with Aston Martin Works, at a rumoured cost of around £200,000. The engine was fettled to boost power from 430hp to 490, weight was removed, the brakes and suspension overhauled and a roll cage installed. To this day it's believed to be the only such motorsport-prepped Zagato. And what's cooler than a one-off racing Aston Martin?

Wikipedia suggests chassis number 20013 was sold in 2008 for £122,500; the car found its way to the current owner in 2016, the ad stating that since then it has been "subject to further development and revisions" to keep it in tip top condition. Beyond the mechanicals the Zagato has also been treated to an interior retrim and had the air-con re-installed. So you can drive to the circuit, around the circuit, and back home in comfort...

It's an alluring prospect then, is it not? There's an argument to say that the motorsport aesthetic suits this Aston's brutish proportions better than the roadgoing look ever did, plus the car has the enviable status of being a unique Aston Martin Zagato race car. That's also eligible for road use. And while half a million quid isn't exactly a bargain entry into grassroots motorsport, it is similar money to the 'standard' versions - and less than the modern V12 and Vanquish Zagatos.

So that's a road legal racing car, built by two of the most evocative names in motorsport, owned by a petrolhead celebrity and ready to race, use on the road or do whatever you wish with. Now, if everyone just chipped in a bit, and a road-race rota could be worked out, we might be on to something...

See the original advert here.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (38) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Nerdherder 03 Sep 2018

    Absolutely brutal. I love it.

  • Mr_Sukebe 03 Sep 2018

    Does the Rowan Atkinson link mean that the car was also in the movie "The Tall Guy"?

  • mhurley 03 Sep 2018

    Possibly the ugliest Aston ever.
    Ugly when they came out and hasn't improved with age

  • easytiger123 03 Sep 2018

    This and the Alfa SZ were the 2 cars I never 'got' or liked when they were released, and the intervening 30 odd years hasn't changed my mind one bit I'm afraid.

  • Dr Interceptor 03 Sep 2018

    Impressively brutal, but eye-shatteringly ugly.

    I'd have one in my garage, with a cover over it wink

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