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DB4 Zagato – Back to the Future…

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By Chris Pollitt

This handsome machine is not an Aston Martin DB4 Zagato from the 1960s. It is in fact an Aston Martin DB4 Zagato from today, here, 2019. And that’s pretty special. The car is part of Aston Martin’s impressive Continuation programme, which sees the firm bring back cars from the past. So far there has been the DB4 GT Continuation of 2017, of which 25 were built. Then there is the ‘Goldfinger’ DB5, which will come to market in 2020. And of course, now there’s this, the DB4 Zagato Continuation.

What you’re looking at here is the first of nineteen brand-new DB4 Zagatos, all built by hand and all built to be as faithful as possible to the cars of old. Though of course, as you’d expect, there have been some modern touches and techniques applied to the build process, but make no mistake, this is very much a classic in all but age.
Aston Martin, Aston martin DB4 Zagato, DB4, Zagato, Zagato Continuation, DB4 front
Each of the nineteen cars, the first one being unveiled at 2019’s 24 Hours of Le mans event, will be the subject of over 4,500 hours of labour from Aston Martin’s most skilled artisans within the company’s Heritage Division. No nut, rivet, wire or bolt has escaped serious consideration and attention during the build process, and it shows. Even the paint has had countless hours spent on it, with Aston martin working with ICI and original paint supplier Max Meyer to deliver a faultless and tone perfect recreation of the DB4 Zagato’s ‘60s Rosso Maja hue.
Aston Martin, Aston martin DB4 Zagato, DB4, Zagato, Zagato Continuation, DB4 interior

That paint is splashed (with care) on a body made of 1.2mm hand-formed aluminium which is assembled by man, not machine. However, unlike the designers of the ‘60s, Aston Martin and Zagato – between which there has been a relationship for over fifty years – have used modern computing power and digital design techniques to ensure the body of the Continuation is millimetre perfect in comparison to the original car, and of course, the remaining eighteen to be built.

Inside, it’s 1960s business as usual, though if you look closely, you’ll see there are some modern antics going on. For example, under that Obsidian Black leather there are carbon fibre race seats. The kind of stuff that would have blown minds back in the day, but more importantly than that, it’s a lot safer than the original kit, which is good. Much like the roll cage, which has been engineered to meet contemporary FIA standards.

Aston Martin, Aston martin DB4 Zagato, DB4, Zagato, Zagato Continuation, DB4 engine

Under that handmade bonnet you’ll find the 4.7-litre straight six which, thanks to cam work, a racy head and a perfectly designed crank, kicks out some 390bhp. And as you’d expect, there is a brace of three pairs of carburettors, too. Just imagine the noise.

The car is, as you can see, nothing short of magnificent. We love to see manufacturers putting so much attention on their heritage, so a car like this gets two big thumbs up from us. But then our thumbs waiver, because this car comes with a couple of caveats.

Aston Martin, Aston martin DB4 Zagato, DB4, Zagato, Zagato Continuation, Zagato emblem

Firstly, the Aston Martin DB4 Zagato Continuation can only be bought as part of a pair, the other car being the DBS GT Zagato – an all-new machine that will be built in 2020. For the two, it will cost an eye-watering £6,000,000. But that’s not the big issue. No, that comes in the form the DB4 Zagato being track only, as in, you won’t be able to drive it on the road. And that’s a crying shame. We understand that it’s a ‘50s design, and as such to put it on the road, given modern safety requirements etc would be a bureaucratic nightmare, but if Morgan can do it…

Aston Martin, Aston martin DB4 Zagato, DB4, Zagato, Zagato Continuation, DB4 rear

Still, rather then be sad this beautiful machine will never see a road, we should instead focus on the positive of Aston Martin taking such an exceptional level of pride in its past, and taking the opportunity to bring it back to life, even if its future use is limited to a track. Though really, that is its spiritual home and it’s where this incredible machine can be used to its full potential, so perhaps it’s not all bad?

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