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Monday, November 10, 2008

One-77 Could be the Lonliest Number

The folks at Aston Martin have been busy lately, perhaps more so than at any other time in this storied marque's rich history. Many wondered what would happen post-Ford ownership, but AM's present and future appear sparkling.

The V-8 has just been freshened with a bigger motor and a sport package. The DB9 gets updated for 2009, and the DBS plays a starring in yet another James Bond flick (rumor is that Aston chief Ulrich Bez has a cameo/background role in Quantum of Solace). The same Dr. Bez -- about as enthusiastic and capable a CEO as any car company could ask for -- has also confirmed the company's plans to bring back the Lagonda brand, and the sexilicious Rapide sedan is also on the way. Let's not forget those class wins by the DB9R at Le Mans.

A bit more of a mystery is the One-77, a bespoke, flagship model of which only -- you guessed it -- 77 will be built, each to order. We haven't seen the real thing yet; a One-77 body buck sat atop Aston's Paris stand, mostly wrapped in a car cover, showing only a little leg here and there. It's a magnificent shape, the work of current AM design director Marek Reichman, and like the rest of the Aston lineup is a front-engine, rear-drive coupe.

Information is sparse, but we know the AM V-12 gets a flat-plane crank, a displacement increase (to 7.3-liters), and a horsepower rating approaching 700. It will be built of aluminum and carbon fiber, and likely posses a 6-7 speed dual-clutch gearbox. Top speed should reach 200 mph or better. Price? A shocking $1.6-1.8 million, depending upon whose estimates you follow, and the exchange rate.

That seems huge. Porsche had trouble selling the last Carrera GTs at $440,000. Mercedes has struggled with the SLR, in all its variations, since the beginning. The Ferrari Enzo was an instant sellout, but at less than half this price. And there are no lines at your local Bugatti store for a Veyron.

Even in these uncertain times, the buzz is that Aston Martin has customer commitments for all 77 cars, making what is likely to be the world's most expensive production car a sellout too, even at these stratospheric price levels, economic recession or no. If that is the case, then that's brand value.