- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

ATLANTA Aston Martin cannot be denied its exclusivity. Last summer the sports-car brand introduced the DB7 Zagato concept at Pebble Beach, Calif., saying that it needed 66 orders to build no more than 99 specimens of this version.
Within a few weeks the Aston Martin Zagato was "sold out" and some potential customers were disappointed. The DB7 Zagato will be delivered to the owners this spring.
Aston Martin came to like this instant success and asked coach-builder Zagato to design another special version based on the DB7. The new model has been specially created for the American market, hence its name DB American Roadster 1, or DB AR1.
The car was introduced at a private party with customers in Los Angeles, several days before it made its world debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Again 66 customers were needed to start the limited production of 99 cars. From there, Aston Martin went on a "Power, Beauty and Soul Tour" to dealers in Florida to show customers in Miami, West Palm Beach and Tampa two new cars: the DB AR1, and the DB7GT that debuted in October at the Birmingham Motor Show in England.
When I joined the tour at their next stop in Atlanta, Aston Martin had already received 67 deposits of $50,000 for its $250,000 Roadster. Thus, the DB AR1 got the green light.
The roadster felt and sounded impressive in the ice-cold dawn. While the sun rose in the sky, the lines of the Aston Martin were highlighted at their best. The longer I looked, the more beautiful its curvaceous lines became.
The DB AR1 was designed with California in mind: a roadster true to its tradition, with places for two and without a soft top. The DB AR1 has the same large radiator grille as the DB7 Zagato. The rear haunches are more pronounced and the aggressive design is matched with beautiful details, such as the rings around the rear lamps, which are mounted with visible screws. The interior breathes luxury with its off-white padded leather seats and the beautifully curved luggage bench.
The DB AR1 will get a new version of the V-12 engine. Tuning of the 6.0-liter powerplant of the DB7 Vantage boosted power from 420 to 435 horsepower and increased the torque from 400 to 410 foot-pounds.
Together with a different final drive ratio, the changes will be noticeable in midrange power. The active sports exhaust with rear muffle by-pass valves as on the Vanquish will provide the matching sound. Other technical features are the AP Racing twin-plate clutch that replaces the single-plate clutch of the DB7 Vantage.
The V-12 is working together with a six-speed gearbox. Multispoke 19-inch alloy wheels will be equipped with ultralow-profile Bridgestone tires.
In March, after the tour has stopped at all 29 dealers in the United States and Canada, the DB AR1 will go back to Italy, where Zagato will do the tooling.


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