Aston Martin DBZ Centenary Collection

Stunning Aston Martin DBZ Collection up for sale at incredible price

Stunning Aston Martin DBZ Collection up for sale at incredible price

For £6.1million, the DBZ Centenary celebrated Zagato’s 100th birthday with the Superleggera-based DBS GT Zagato and a classic DB4 GT Zagato continuation. Just 19 pairs were made and for the first time since, a matching pair has come up for sale.

Available with Nicholas Lee & Co, this pair comes finished in Caribbean Pearl over dark blue, with both cars in brand new condition.

Aston Martin’s long-standing relationship with Zagato has been particularly fruitful over the past 20 years or so, with absolute stunners such as the DB7 GT Zagato, V12 Vantage Zagatos and the Vanquish Zagato family. The most recent in the DBZ Centenary Collection however, came, in an unprecedented move, as a pair of cars rather than just the one.

The DBS GT Zagato is the only of the two cars to be road legal. The DB4 is technically a brand new car, so given it was built as an identical replica of a car first built in the ‘60s, it’s not compliant with various safety and emissions regulations that govern modern road cars.

The DBS, though, is the ultimate continent crosser, with an incredible motorised grille opening and closing in accordance with the cooling and feeding needs of its voluminous 5.2-litre 770PS (566kW) twin-turbo V12 engine. It’s actually identical to the V12 later used in the run-out DBS 770 Ultimate. Obviously the rest of the bodywork is entirely bespoke too and made out of carbon-fibre. Even the headlights are bespoke, which is a first for a 21st-century Zagato Aston.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

“In the 40 or more years I have been dealing in Aston Martin cars, I have never seen demand for the Zagato variants dwindle,” said Nicholas Mee.

“They remain irresistible; beautifully crafted, timeless in design and incredibly rare, they’re always near the top of a collector’s wish list. With the DBZ Centenary Collection we have a pair of cars that’s likely to never be repeated by Aston Martin, as it moves away from Continuation models. This is a chance to acquire both an icon and a future icon of one of the automotive industry’s most enduring and effective unions.”

So, what about the thorny issue of price? Being so rare, surely values have shot to the moon from that £6.1million original asking price? Actually… no. Quite the opposite in fact. Grab a bargain, with this princely pair being available for ‘just’ £3.75million.

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Aston Martin DB2 front three quarter exterior

Aston Martin DB2 (and DB2/4)

BUYER’S GUIDE

Aston Martin DB2 (and DB2/4) review

With its powerful six-cylinder engine and beautiful aluminium body the DB2 set the template for the legendary DB cars that followed…

What Is It?

While the iconic DB5 perhaps represents peak post-war Aston Martin the opening chapter for this most celebrated family of sporting coupes started in 1949 with the original DB2.

Based on the frame of the previous 2-litre, the secret to the DB2’s success (and that of the cars that followed) was the switch to a powerful twin-cam straight-six, originally co-designed by none other than W.O. Bentley and acquired by David Brown as part of the purchase of Lagonda.

Raced at the 1949 Le Mans, Aston Martin’s signature combination of luxury and sporting pedigree was assured by the time the production car was unveiled in New York in 1950. With its coil-sprung suspension, power-assisted brakes and lightweight aluminium bodywork over a spaceframe chassis the DB2 was every inch the modern sporting coupe, and was developed into the larger and more practical DB2/4.

Corrosive Areas

Spaceframe chassis

Mounting points to aluminium bodywork

Front suspension

Checklist

  • Aluminium body obviously won’t rust, but the steel frame beneath can while electrolytic corrosion where the two meet will be expensive to fix – insist on evidence of any restoration work to spaceframe and check thoroughly
  • Interior trimmings and upholstery can be repaired by suitably skilled specialists but parts, fixtures and fittings may be difficult if not impossible to source
  • Independent front suspension requires regular lubrication and upkeep – if this hasn’t been done repairs can be very expensive
  • Gearboxes are generally tough and demand a level of physicality to operate, but beware any whines, clonks or other worrying noises
  • Matching numbers originality will matter in a car like this, so make sure you do your homework on any prospective purchase you are confident the history adds up
  • Most cars will have been through one or more restoration, so make sure this is properly documented and the work has been carried out by a respected specialist
  • The small number of cars means most will be known within the market, so if restoration work has been done you should be able to cross reference with the specialist who did it
  • Engines are generally understressed and tough, assuming they’ve been looked after properly and serviced as required
  • Head gaskets and liners require expert installation, so check who’s been working on the car and pay particular attention for any signs of failure
  • Vantage engine upgrade comprised different carbs, revised inlet cam and higher compression pistons for welcome extra power
  • If originality matters check history to see if the car was sold in Vantage trim, or if the upgrade was applied later in its life

How does it drive?

While it started out with a smaller and less powerful engine than the later DB models the DB2 was developed from the outset to be as competitive in racing and rallies as it was on the road, this need underpinning a definite sporting style to the driving experience. For the time the easy 100mph-plus performance, coil-sprung suspension (independent at the front), power brakes and part-synchro four-speed manual gearbox were all commendably modern and, approached with due deference to its vintage, a DB2 is a rewarding and suitably sporty car to drive.

Like any car of its age it benefits from smooth and measured inputs to the controls, all of which will have a level of physicality to them. The strong engine, great balance and predictable handling will all be a delight for any keen driver, and the fact it’s the original DB holds strong appeal.

 What’s good?

Looks and status are, of course, part of the deal with any Aston Martin and the DB2’s smooth lines certainly deliver on both. While superficially similar to the later Touring-bodied DB4s, ‘5s and ‘6s the DB2 is clearly a car of the ‘50s and not ‘60s, the ‘humpback’ body of the Sports Saloon creating an unmistakeable silhouette later refined on the more practical 2+2 DB2/4.

Convertible Drophead Coupes meanwhile have a timeless elegance, trading the hardtop’s sporting cred for a more gentrified touring ambience. Both have their fans. Representing as it does the first iteration of Aston Martin’s iconic DB series of cars and backed up by that fascinating origin story, true fans will appreciate its status and, with all the Bond-infused baggage heaped on the later and more recognised DB5, it might even be the ‘cooler’ choice among serious aficionados.

along the way.

What’s bad?

We’re in proper big league collectors’ classic territory here, the vintage and scarcity (just 411 DB2s were built, with 761 DB2/4s) ensure a level of exclusivity. The nature of the car also means it’s a vehicle demanding of specialist and expensive care to maintain that value, and a DB2 is never going to be a cheap car to buy, restore or maintain.

With the pool of available cars so small it’s likely that most will have been through at least one restoration by now, and as always the quality of the work and expertise of the people doing it will be crucial to its ongoing value. While there will never be any such thing as a cheap DB2 the cost of having one brought up to standard will likely make buying on price a false economy.

Which model to choose?

Sports Saloon or Drophead Coupe will be a choice based on personal taste but, for the sporting provenance, we’d err to the former, especially if you have any desire to compete in any of the many historic events the DB2 will be eligible for.

Early cars with the three-piece grille and ‘washboard’ wing vents have a rarity value given just 49 were built to this spec, and exclusivity will doubtless add value for originalists. Whisper it but the later grille perhaps looks ‘more Aston Martin’ if that’s what you’re going for.

Cars with the uprated ‘Vantage’ spec engines will be usefully quicker, the later DB2/4 much more practical thanks to its hatchback-style boot access and 2+2 seating. A year into production this got a more powerful 2.9-litre engine, which carried through into the MkII version but, as ever, you trade increased power against the additional weight of the more luxurious trimmings.

Specifications

Engine

2.6-litre six-cylinder petrol

Power

105PS (77kW) @ 5,000rpm

Torque

170Nm (125lb ft) @ 3,000rpm

Transmission

Four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Kerb weight

c. 1,200kg

0-62mph

c. 11 seconds

Top speed

100mph-plus

Production dates

1950-1953 (DB2), 1953-1957 (DB2/4)

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Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

The best sub-£100k investment cars for 2024

The best sub-£100k investment cars for 2024

In the current climate of spiralling interest rates, soon £100,000 won’t get you more than a Mars bar and a packet of crisps so, while you still can, get the money invested in the dream machine you’ve always promised yourself.

We’ve got something for everyone here, from limited-edition hot hatches to big-engined GTs and a history-defining super saloon. Will any of them appreciate it? That remains to be seen but at the very least, you will enjoy owning them.

1. BMW M3 CSL

As sure as the earth is round and what comes up must come down, a BMW M3 CSL must feature on a list of the best investment cars for less than £100,000. Using what is widely accepted to be the best BMW M3 – the E46 M3 – as a base, the CSL stripped it of 136kg weight (and fog lights), stiffened up the chassis and blessed it with a carbon-fibre airbox that produces one of the best induction noises we’ve yet encountered.

Power, meanwhile, went up by 17PS – to 360PS (265kW) – and 0-62mph dropped from 5.2 to 4.9 seconds. The elephant in the room is the BMW’s automatic single-clutch transmission which is, well, slow and not very good. The question is, do you drive around the gearbox’s limitations or save yourself the bother and retrofit a six-speed manual? Jerky auto or not, the CSL seems like one of the safest ways to make money on a car that can still be had for well under £100,000.

2. Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

There’s something delightfully endearing about putting a large engine in a small car and the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S proves that to the full. To create it, Aston took the smallest and lightest chassis available at the time and then fitted it with the 573PS (421kW) 5.9-litre V12 from the DBS. The result? A top speed of 205mph and 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds.

Thankfully, Aston also sorted out the chassis. The V12’s suspension sits 15mm lower and is 45 per cent stiffer than the standard car’s, giving greater composure without sacrificing comfort. Perhaps the best part of the V12 Vantage is its pumped-up looks courtesy of long bonnet vents, wide sills and aggressive front and rear bumpers. It’s far more striking than the standard car. Yet, manual versions of the V12 can still be scooped up for well under our £100,000 limit. You can wager it won’t stay the same for long. 

3. Lotus Carlton

Few cars define their era quite as well as the Lotus Carlton – the fastest saloon of its day, the Daily Mail launched a campaign to ban it, while smash-and-grab robbers found themselves an ideal getaway vehicle. Law-abiding drivers also loved the Carlton. Lotus got the styling just right adding a subtle body kit and a (slightly less subtle) rear wing in what would become a blueprint for the modern performance saloon.

The performance, meanwhile, is impressive even today. The Lotus’ 382PS (281kW) twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6 is good for 0-62mph in around five seconds and with no nannying speed limiter (ala a contemporary German performance saloon), the Lotus was good for 177mph. Sadly, the delights of the Lotus Carlton have not gone unnoticed and a clean one will set you back close to our £100,000 self-imposed limit. Cheap for such a large slice of motoring history. 

4. Maserati Gransport

As a Maserati that goes as well as it looks, the Gransport brings cause for celebration.

Even without the distinctive ‘boomerang’ tail lights of the original 3200GT, the Gransport cuts an athletic figure that’s enhanced with a subtle body kit and 10mm lowered suspension, giving a sense of menace that was absent on the original. Subtle changes were made beneath the skin, too.

In the Gransport, Maserati’s 4.2-litre V8 produced 400PS (294kW) – ten more than before – you get adjustable suspension and a sports exhaust that gleefully opens its flaps at 4,000rpm. Even the Cambiocorsa automated manual gearbox gives faster shifts.

The result is a car that’s as happy grand touring as it is dissecting your favourite B roads and with prices still low – you can pick up good examples for less than £40,000 – the Gransport makes for a tantalising used buy that’s ripe for appreciation.

5. Porsche 997 911 GTS

If the 997 represents the sweet spot in Porsche 911 production, then the GTS provides the icing to the proverbial oily cake – it’s one of the best road-going 911s ever built. The 997 has the small size of the 996 but without the goofy fried egg headlights, while a slick manual gearbox and hydraulic power steering mean it still feels like an analogue Porsche.

But the engine is the superstar. With no turbos to choke its voice or responses, the GTS’s 408PS (300kW) 3.8-litre flat-six gets from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and will hit 190mph flat out. It’s a spine-tingling experience and the fact you have to work for it only makes it better.

By contrast, newer 911s – faster and more accomplished, true – struggle to match the 997’s engagement, which makes the GTS seem like a bargain when good manual examples can be had for less than £80,000. 

6. Ferrari F430 manual

Predicting the next Ferrari that will shoot up in value isn’t easy, but we reckon a manual F430 is a safe bet. Looking like a shrunken Enzo can only be a good thing, but more than that the F430 brings the world of old and new Ferrari together. So, while you get a screaming flat-plane crank V8 mated to an open-gate manual gearbox, you also get a manettino dial on the steering wheel linked to the F430’s electronically controlled limited-slip differential.

The result? This Ferrari can pull your heartstrings like few other cars, but there’s always an electronic safety net to fall back on. Sadly, the delights of a manual F430 have not gone unnoticed and while you’ll get one for under £100,000, you’ll pay a significant premium over an identical automatic.

7. Lotus Elise 240 Final edition

While some investment cars are reaching middle age and will likely require a bit of work, the Lotus Elise 240 Final Edition was only introduced in 2021. As the name hints, the Final Edition is the runout version of Lotus’ bestseller, coming complete with unique paint jobs and badging, and a lovely set of forged alloy wheels.

The Final Edition shows you what 25 years of Lotus Elise development looks like so while it weighs 200kg more than the original it comes packing a 243PS (179kW) supercharged four-cylinder that would make mincemeat of the old Rover K-series. Factor in daily usability that eclipses the abilities of the original Elise and there are plenty of less enjoyable ways to spend a hard-earned £50,000 or so.

8. Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

The outgoing Honda Civic Type R’s styling (more like a billboard saying “race me” to anyone in visual range) might not have been to everyone’s tastes, but few could argue with the way the explosive Honda drove. Its 320PS (235kW) 2.0-litre engine hunted the redline like any self-respecting VTEC should while turbocharging delivered performance which made the official 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds seem unduly pessimistic.

The Civic Type R could annihilate A and B roads in a way that would embarrass most supercars, thanks to a stiff chassis and the expertly damped suspension’s ability to absorb any bump or camber you cared to throw at it. A swift glance at the rapidly rising speedo was the only clue to how outrageously fast you were going.

Buying as a long-term investment? Then you best seek out the Type R Limited Edition, barely used examples of which can be scooped up for less than £55,000. As the best example of the best hot hatch of the current era, prices can surely only go up – can’t they?

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Aston Martin DB9 rear exterior

Aston Martin DB9 | Alternative Classics

Aston Martin DB9 | Alternative Classics

If you’re looking for a long-nosed GT car with jaw-dropping looks, V12 power and an ability to chew through miles quicker than a competitive eater swallows pizza, a Ferrari would be the obvious choice.

But what if we said you could have all the looks and most of the performance from a homegrown effort? Let’s take a look at the Aston Martin DB9.

The DB9 put the DB7 out of its misery in 2004 and immediately felt like a car from a new generation. Out went the DB7’s ancient steel construction, and in came a bonded aluminium body backed up by vast swathes of composites.

To say the DB7 was out of its depth was an understatement. It had faced off with cars like the Bentley Continental GT and Mercedes CL, models backed by German giants that made victory for even the DB9 a tall order. And that’s before we mention the Ferrari 575M Maranello and GTB Fiorano, cars that very much resided at the sportier end of the GT spectrum.

But while the DB9 struggled to match the dynamic qualities of the Italian competition, it took a clear win in one crucial area – looks. The Aston effortlessly blended its svelte lines with subtle hints of aggression in a way Aston’s current crop of GTs hasn’t been able to match. They’re arguably the single reason for buying a DB9, which is saying something because there’s plenty else to like.

Such as its V12 engine; in a time when even a basic Fiesta is turbocharged, the surging, turbine-smooth power delivery of the Aston’s 12-pot is a delight to experience, giving in-gear flexibility that makes even a modern boosted motor feel like an on-off switch. You’ll need a manual-equipped Aston to experience this character at its best, which is a shame because they’re scarce since most buyers opted to fit an automatic from new.

A decision which will be more understandable when you drive the DB9. It’s a GT in the classical sense, an iron fist in a velvet glove that cossets its occupants rather than pulverising their internals in the name of lap times like one of Ferrari’s scalpel-sharp offerings. Armed with this knowledge, it’s not a huge surprise to learn many DB9s are Volante dropheads.

The DB9 is a far sportier proposition than the Bentley or Mercedes, and Aston’s constant evolution meant the DB9 avoided obsoletion. Now a modern classic, the DB9’s blunt dynamics are much less of an issue, and with prices kicking off at around £30,000, it’s easy to see why this relatively rare GT’s charms seduce many.

On sale until 2016, Aston shifted around 16,500 DB9s before the DB11 replaced it. By contrast, Bentley has sold, on average, 5,000 Continental GTs in each generation since it first went on sale in 2002.

Aston Martin DB9: why buy one?

There’s no shortage of good reasons to buy an Aston Martin DB9, but chief among them is its stunningly good looks. So it might be a surprise to learn the DB9 differs from what it initially intended. The DB9’s AM305 design concept was a mid-engined V8 until CEO Ulrich Bez came along in 2000, proclaiming all Astons needed to be front-engined. Clearly, he felt the range-topper should only have V12 power, too.

As a result, the DB9’s acre-long bonnet was almost a prerequisite, but every other part of its design was also beautifully judged. The chrome grille and wing vents hark back to the DB4 and DB5, the wide arches give a flavour of the old V8 Coupe and original Vanquish, and the sleek rear end owes much to the still-pretty DB7. Given all these influences, the result was amazingly cohesive in a way the Ferrari 575 (or current Astons) have yet to manage entirely.

The DB9 can make another bold claim, too – its 5.9-litre V12 engine is unique to Aston, not a mildly retuned Mercedes lump as found in the current range.

From launch, it punched out 455PS (335kW) at 6,000rpm and 570Nm (420lb ft) of torque from 5,000rpm which, in a manually equipped car, was good for 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds and a 186mph top whack. Hardly slow, even by modern standards, and with no turbochargers to muffle the noise the V12 produced a throaty bark that was pure Aston Martin. Fuel economy of no better than 20mpg was less appealing.

The engine was revised in 2009 with a new head and a higher compression, increasing power to 477PS (351kW) and 600Nm (443lb ft) – that knocked a tenth of the 0-60mph time and brought the top speed up to 190mph. Major fettling followed in 2013, with everything from the block, head, throttle bodies, manifold and fuel pump revised, and variable valve timing. Power upped to 517PS (380kW) with a corresponding increase in performance.

We understand that every vehicle is unique, which is why our Agreed Valuation policies take the true value of your classic car into account.

This evolution didn’t pass the Aston’s chassis by, but whichever iteration you’re considering, remember the DB9 was designed to be a grand tourer first and foremost.

Its cosseting ride makes it exceptionally long-legged, and its slow, muted steering doesn’t exhaust your hands with chatter. If you turn the stability control off, the long wheelbase is surprisingly balanced and forgiving. However, if you expect a driving experience hardwired to your soul, you will be disappointed.

The optional Sports Pack introduced in 2006 tightened things up considerably. Spring rates were increased by more than 50 per cent, shocks and roll bars were stiffened, and the car dropped 6mm. The pack’s five-spoke 19-inch wheels were the same size as standard but shed 1.5kg per wheel, and Aston replaced the composite undertray with an aluminium panel that served as a structural member of the car.

The 2009 facelift brought suspension upgrades that improved refinement and ride quality – a subtle hint to the DB9’s underlying purpose – while 2013 added adjustable dampers with three settings that included a ‘Track’ mode that was best avoided.

Remarkably little of the DB9’s interior changed over its 12-year life. In truth, it was always dated, but in a world awash with giant infotainment screens, the Aston’s jewel-like dials are delightfully analogue, and you can’t fault the quality of the leather that covers almost every interior surface.

What you can fault is the Aston’s tight cabin – a vast coupe like this should comfortably accommodate tall adults, but, depending on your body shape, that’s not always the case in the DB9. It’s less surprising that the back seat is cramped for anyone bar small children; it’s best used to supplement the 138-litre boot. If you’re after a roomy GT that the entire family can enjoy, you’ll be better off with the Mercedes CL.

Aston Martin DB9: problems to look out for?

Running an Aston Martin was never going to be cheap, and even a basic 10,000-mile service will cost around £1,200, covering oil and filter changes and new spark plugs.

Although generally considered tough, anecdotally, we’ve heard of more than one engine failure, which could be uneconomical to repair on older examples. Likewise, oil leaks and electrical faults are not unheard of.

A failed heater ECU can cause the front seats to smoulder – carrying a fire extinguisher is never a bad idea in a car like this – and the air-conditioning system is also known to cause issues, although it’s relatively easy to fix. Accelerator arms are also known to break, while a rattle from the front of the car suggests worn bushes, they can be replaced without buying a new subframe and anti-roll bars, though.

If you’re buying a Volante, check the roof mechanism works; it should rise and drop in 17 seconds. The multi-layer roof is also likely to show wear, and an aftermarket replacement will cost around £5,000.

How much to pay?

The potential for big bills does at least mean one thing – the DB9 is surprisingly affordable. The cheapest examples will set you back just £25,000 for an early 2004 car with less than 50,000 on the clock but more than five owners on the logbook. A car like this will likely have a patchy service history that will put many off.

A budget closer to £40,000 offers a far more attractive ownership proposition. We saw a one-owner car with less than 25,000 miles on the clock and in a fetching green finish going for £38,000.

Their rarity means you’ll pay closer to £50,000 for a manual car in similar condition. The best examples of the DB9 – late 2015 cars with a handful of miles and main-dealer warranty – will tip the scales at more than £100,000.

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