David Brown Speedback GT: Revisited and reviewed

Question: what's the difference between a Jaguar XKR, an Aston Martin DB5 and DB9, a David BrownAutomotive Speedback GT and a Kahn Vengeance?

That man again!
That man again!
Everything, and nothing, depending on your point of view. The DBA Speedback GT, launched in 2014, is a coachbuilt body, reminiscent of an Aston DB5, placed on an XKR chassis, with an XKR powertrain. It'll cost you £594K, give or take 'local taxes', and is a rather Marmite car: 11 have been sold so far, including one to New Zealand. Some people lust after it, others loathe it, arguing it's a very expensive Jaguar that has come perilously close to ripping off an Aston DB5.

The Kahn Vengeance, on the other hand, is a loudly coachbuilt Aston DB9, with no pretensions to be anything else. That car has split opinions more loudly than the poor old DBA, despite Aston supplying the base cars to Kahn.

Coachbuilding, eh? Seemingly you wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy. And yet the market for both cars is there, so much so that DBA is moving to bigger premises at Silverstone to build its revised Speedback GT, which apparently soaks up 8,000 man hours (800 of those spent on applying the paint), alongside its new project: Mini Remastered.

Does it work? Does it not?
Does it work? Does it not?
Second spin
We recently got behind the wheel of a new Speedback GT for a little pootle round town, to see what all the fuss (and money) is about.

First off, the looks. In fact, barely any point in mentioning how it goes, drives, handles or behaves: if you want to know head into the classifieds and search out a secondhand XKR. The caveat to that is the power - DBA has taken the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 in its production 510hp form, but can now take it up to 600hp for you, if you so desire. It can also now tinker with spring and damper settings should you so wish.

I'm going to say it, and then duck. I like the styling. From a distance, with one eye closed, it's an Aston DB5. Which causes you to glance again, when you realise it's not quite what you thought it was. So you go a bit closer for a proper look and that, in the first instance, is all I would ask as the owner of a near-£600K car. Namely that people step closer for a better look.

Bit more familiar in here!
Bit more familiar in here!
Devil in the...
The red paintwork on our test car was deep, smooth and flawless. Its proper name is Ruby Tuesday, because all the paint colours have a musical reference, so you have Blue Moon, White Night, etc. David Brown likes his music, and I like the fact that quirkiness stretches beyond the product to the brand.

There is some beautiful exterior detailing, which you'd expect, such as the enamel badge made by Fattorini, a Birmingham jeweller, and the fuel filler cap, which is a single piece of aluminium that has been moulded into the curve of the car's bodyline. Oh, and the indicator lenses are now clear instead of orange. The wheels are bespoke, and emulate the Union Flag in their design, the doors are soft close and the windows rise to shut of their own accord on closing the doors, which is apparently unheard of in a handbuilt car. Sneer away, but it's that sort of trivial but unique detail the customers are paying for.

Inside, the steering wheel is comprised of magnificent sections of tamo ash and walnut, interlocked like an expensive jigsaw. DBA could do a leather steering wheel, or replace wooden parts with carbon fibre, but no one has yet asked, which indicates customers buy this car precisely for that retro vibe.

One single piece of wood veneer decorates the inside of each door, curving one way then another, with apparently no break in the surface. DBA proudly points out that it achieves that feat with a 3D printer.

You would expect nice paint for £600K...
You would expect nice paint for £600K...
Nickels and dimes
The centre console can be kitted out in nickel or chrome, in a variety of satin or polished finishes, while the switchgear is recognisably Jaguar. The car's best feature, by a long chalk, is the leather picnic bench which rises out of the boot, and remains unchanged from the original, save for a more polished, chrome finish for the mechanism. This piece of engineering combines the best qualities of coachbuilding. Which is to say imagination, style, quirkiness, a subtle sense of British humour and, frankly, the wow factor.

On the move, what's to say? It drives like, well, an XKR, with purposeful steering, suspension that's supple enough for long GT-style adventures and fluid power from the V8, which has been in the JLR group for a while now but is still a great engine. It's also got the Jag's ZF six-speed auto box, which now seems a ratio or two short of the full set, but swaps cogs imperceptibly.

I know, I know, you probably still hate it. I tried.

: 5,000cc V8 supercharged
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 510@6,000-6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 461lb/ft@2,500-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 4.8sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,800kg
MPG: 23.0 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 292g/km
Price: £594,000



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Comments (121) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Schermerhorn 10 Apr 2017

    I like it......*ducks for cover*

  • sticks090460 10 Apr 2017

    Shut up and take my money.........................
    (if only I had that much of it)

  • Fetchez la vache 10 Apr 2017

    To be fair, it does look much better in those photos, even if the front does remind me of a mini.

  • robemcdonald 10 Apr 2017

    Wire wheels just don't suit modern cars and this is a modern car. It's pastiche design betrays it modern underpinnings as the delicate details of the original are replicated here with a heavy hand.
    This and the Kahn are of equal merit.

  • SirSquidalot 10 Apr 2017

    Reminds me of a dodgy kit car.

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