Aston Martin, that effortlessly cool, quintessentially British brand, is continuing to celebrating its centenary this weekend, so by way of a tribute, here’s a run-down of our favourite Astons through history. Immortalised in Bond films and revived from the doldrums under first Ford and then independent ownership, to many, Aston Martins are the epitome of British style.

DB4 Zagato
What do you get if you give an already gorgeous British GT car to an Italian styling house with the brief to make it even better looking, lighter and far racier. The answer, unsurprisingly, is this – The DB4 Zagato. The initial plan for this Ercole Spada-penned masterpiece was for 25 cars but (for some unfathomable reason) demand didn’t stretch even this far and subsequently, only 20 ended up being built. The Zagato overhaul made the car more aerodynamic, smaller and lighter, and gave it a more powerful engine, which hauled it to 60mph in just over six seconds and on to a top speed of 154mph. Due to the rarity and racing history of these cars, good examples now fetch over £1m at auction.

The ultimate Aston Martin? Possibly. Equipped with all the Bond goodies? Definitely. Sean Connery made this car the star of 1964’s Goldfinger, with its bullet-proof screen, very early sat-nav system, machine guns and, of course, the ejector seat. The DB5 was more than just a film car, though. It was gorgeous, fast and luxurious by any standards. It was also exclusive and cripplingly expensive – almost twice as much as the Jaguar E-Type and not as fast. Even so, just look at it!

DBS Vantage
Continuing the theme of ultra-exclusive Astons, just 71 of these cars ever made it onto an owner’s driveway. Based on the standard V8-engined DBS but with a straight-six instead, this car was the last Aston Martin to wear wire wheels. It also continued the marque’s association with James Bond, appearing in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service although, unfortunately, without any gadgets. This may not be the most heralded Aston, but we feel it is distinctly underrated and deserves a place in the firm’s hall of fame.

A big departure from the boxy, brutish Astons of the 1970s and 1980s, 1993’s curvaceous DB7 was penned by Ian Callum (who’s now designing stunning cars like the F-Type for Jaguar) and was the first Aston Martin to be released under Ford stewardship. Initially powered by a supercharged 340bhp, 3.2-litre straight six, it never quite hit the mark in performance terms, but the arrival of the V12-powered Vantage and GT models, saw the company finally on the road to recovery after the financial travails of the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s

This represents what, Aston Martin at least, thinks is the ultimate Aston. A £1.3m, 7.3-litre, 750bhp monster built out of exotic materials like aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre, it really is a stunning car. Just 77 were made (hence the name) and Aston Martin has never officially allowed journalists to drive one (although some publications have managed to beg and borrow drives in privately-owned cars), which helped add to this ultra-exclusive hypercar’s mystique. A truly stunning piece of modern design.

By James Richardson

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