Should we always want more of a good thing? More, more, more… It seems to be the norm of the general society in which we live. But personally, I’m not entirely convinced.
Aston Martin have very recently announced that they will be producing a ‘Continuation’ of the ultra-rare and legendary DB4GT Zagato. Between 1960 and ’62 only a mere 19 examples of the original DB4GT’s were clothed by the often controversial but at other times masterly Ugo Zagato. Now, to celebrate 100 years of Carrozzeria Zagato, Aston Martin Works intend to build another 19 examples. These replica’s – uhmmm… sorry, continuations (because that sounds much more posh and legit), will only be available as a package deal called The DBZ Centenary Collection, comprising one of these DB4GT Zagato’s and a brand-new, yet-to-be-launched DBS GT Zagato. The price you ask? A staggering £6m will secure you a set! Should you require the full PR-blurb, feel free to indulge here: Aston Martin DBZ Centenary Collection
So what are we – the genuine grass-root enthusiasts – to make of this? Well for starters, we certainly shouldn’t pretend that we’re the least bit surprised, as there’s really nothing sensationally new about this phenomenon. While enthusiasts have been creating replica’s – with mixed results – in their garden shed for an eternity, these factory-backed ‘continuations’ first appeared in the late-eighties. Yes that’s right, that was the last time the classic car market was at a frenzy high and on the verge of collapsing. Thought-provoking, isn’t it?
Well also back then, Aston Martin got in on the action as they too wanted a bite of the booming classic car market. The Sanction II Zagato was created by Aston Martin by asking an ex-Zagato employee to reskin four ordinary DB4GT’s to exactly replicate the original Zagato article. As these four cars rapidly found new homes on the then so buoyant market, another two cars were constructed as Sanction III cars. But well before that – as early as the mid-eighties – Alfa Romeo had seen an opportunity and thus created a number of continuations of their super sexy 1967 Tipo 33 Stradale, which was originally only produced in a mere 18 examples. And of course if we head Stateside, good ol’ Carroll Shelby has been sanctioning continuations of his Shelby Cobra’s for what seems to be forever.
And now it’s all taking off again! In 2014/2015 Jaguar Classic built the six “missing” Lightweight E-types which they supposedly had wanted to build in period, but just never got around to as they choose to stop the program in period after only 12 Lightweights had been completed. Now we can all sleep again knowing they put that misdoing right. Then the Jaguar XK-SS Continuation was introduced in 2016 as Jaguar decided it was time to build those nine unfinished XK-SS’s which were destroyed in the fire at Browns Lane in 1957. Their latest Continuation introduced only earlier this year is of course the fabulous D-type of which they’re building 25 examples in order to complete the originally intended 100 cars. But hang on a moment – didn’t those 25 D-types which were never built instead morph into the 16 original Jaguar XK-SS’s and of course the nine chassis lost in the factory fire? So, if they’re now building the 25 “missing” D-types, does that then make the 16 original XK-SS’s fakes? I mean, if Jaguar insist that those last 25 D-types need to exist, then the very basis for the XK-SS ever seeing the light of day back in 1957 has just been invalidated. Or have I simply managed to confuse myself here…?
In the meantime over at Aston Martin, their latest Zagato Continuation is also just the tip of the iceberg. In late 2016 they announced that they were going to create all of 25 brand-new DB4GT Lightweights – a legend of a race car which was originally only produced in eight examples. Yes, eight originals and 25 continuations. That’s more than three times the amount of cars originally built! And only a month before announcing the arrival of The DBZ Centenary Collection, they found it prudent to commit to building 25 Continuations of the Goldfinger DB5 as well – complete with all the Bond gadgets. But this is where I apparently start confusing myself again, because how can they possibly build a continuation of a car which they never really built in the first place? It was a movie prop! Not a production car. So surely they’re not going to try to sell us that they had originally intended to produce 25 more of these for the public in period, and are now merely putting right what they failed to fulfil back in the day?
So tell me – am I just being overly cynical now? Bear in mind that these hugely expensive continuations won’t even have a type approval, so their new owners will never be able to enjoy them out on public roads. Instead they’re being sold as trackday toys for the rich. But really, if you had a small fortune burning a hole in your pocket and wanted to go fast around a track somewhere, wouldn’t you be rather be buying the latest high-tech toy from Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren, Pagoni or similar? To my mind, that means that these continuations are nothing but a crude commercial exercise from their manufacturers – happily sacrificing heritage for money! – and are being bought as an equally crude investment by their first new owners – hoping to flip them on a buoyant classic car market. Is there really nothing which is sacred any longer?
Or have I utterly missed the point? Admitted, I too thoroughly love the originals that these continuations are based on. So should we all be celebrating the fact that there are now more, more, more of them in the world? Is all of this a good thing? Dear ViaRETRO reader, tell us what you think?