For you automotive history buffs, the name Sir David Brown should ring a bell. He owned Aston Martin from 1947 to 1972 and created many legends like the DB2, DB2/4, DB2/4 MkII, DB MarkIII, DB4, DB5, DB6 and DBS. And yes those are his initials. But the most famous of them is the DB5 driven by Sean Connery as James Bond in the movie Goldfinger equipped with rocket launchers, machine guns, rear bullet shield, protruding knock off centers, passenger ejection seat, radar and nozzles that squirt slippery oil for chasing cars. The DB5 is the most coveted of Aston Martins of the Sir David Brown era and still is today. Enter David Brown of David Brown Automotive, not related to Aston Martin’s Sir David Brown, who happens to own a classic Aston Martin DB5. Confused? It gets better. Just like most of us he was enamored by a DB5 and enjoyed its classic sports car attributes but as he got used to driving modern GT cars and sports cars he realized that some of the classic feeling was no longer comfortable or fun. He also owned a modern Jaguar XKR and started thinking what if the DB5 could drive like the XKR.
That thought culminated into the Speedback GT. Together with Alan Mobberley a retired Land Rover designer they took a contemporary Jaguar XKR snipped the exterior panels off and dressed it with aluminum hand formed panels with classic Aston Martin looks to create the Speedback GT prototype. The handsome creation has both modern and ‘60s Aston Martin characteristics and a unique gorgeous interior of wood and fine leather crafted by Britain’s best. The degree of finish is higher than that of Jaguar and of course customers can order bespoke exterior colors, interior wood, leather, finishes and 19” wire or alloy wheels. You can even specify the finish of the switches on the dash. Every exterior trim is hand-made including the side strakes, rear lighting fixture, front bumpers, door handles and the nose badge. A split tailgate feature allows for a fold out rear facing picnic seat for two. This will come in handy for tea-time. Over 3,200 man hours go into building each car. The Speedback GT is equipped with a 5-liter turbo charged V8 developing 510hp and 461lb-ft of torque connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. 0-60mph comes in 4.6 seconds.
So what is it like to drive it. Once we got used to the right hand drive position of the prototype car, we were mindful that David Brown was sitting on the left side and the drive from Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley to Laguna Seca became a comfortable but spirited drive in a proper GT car. The Jaguar XKR is already quite a refined GT car and so the Speedback GT with its underpinning drives, well, just like a XKR but with the elegance of the classic Aston Martin looks and the gorgeous interior. There is no comparison here to contemporary Aston Martin interiors and the elegance of classic British coachbuilding skills and artistry is exemplified in the overall feel of the Speedback GT. A GT car must be sporting: Check! A GT car must be comfortable: Check! A GT car must be attractive: Check! A GT car must be built with high quality fit and finish: Check! A GT car must be fun to drive: Check! For a prototype with over 15K miles we could not discern any NVH and forgot that it was a prototype. It was exhilarating and a pleasure to drive. The Speedback GT will set you back $753K USD but you’ll probably never see another one as David Brown only plans to build 100 of them worldwide. For more information, visit www.davidbrownautomotive.com