Jeremy Clarkson of the BBC’s Top Gear frequently bashes Porsche for having the “laziest design team in the world”. Not taking into consideration the fact that Porsche is known to have some of the best driving dynamics out there, they’re patronized by the crème de la crème of the automotive media world for not changing their designs for decades on end. Despite several redesigns over the years, the basic form of the 911 Carrera has been unmistakably similar for well over 40 years. Don’t get me wrong; the 911 is one of my bucket-list cars and I think its proportions are irresistible, but I think another lazy design team has been forgotten, and for a questionable reason.
Since the “rebirth” of Aston Martin with the introduction of the DB7 in the 90s, every single Aston to leave the factory in England has looked the exact same. While Aston Martins are inarguably among the most beautiful cars on the road, there’s no denying that the design team has failed to deviate from one specific recipe. The brand-new Virage in 2012 is intended to slot between the DB9 and the flagship car, the new AM310 Vanquish. I was given the opportunity to spend some quality one-on-one time with this car and came to the realization that it’s by no means an “all-new car”.
The DB9 has always been one of my absolute favourite cars ever since it hit the market. Now, with 2005-2006 models being attainable for the low $60,000 range (our resident sales guy Vasco at Humberview Motorsports will find you the best examples on the continent), it’s more attainable than ever. If there’s one car I would personally buy and drive every single day for the rest of my life, a DB9 would be my top pick. It’s stunning, it’s comfortable, it’s quick, and the second you fire up the motor you hear a rumble that will literally send goosebumps down your spine. The DB9 is elegant, hand-built, and is nowhere near as ostentatious as say, a Gallardo or a 360 Modena. There’s no doubt that when you buy a car of the same caliber as a Lamborghini, Ferrari, or Aston Martin you want to attract at least a little bit of attention. You want to give off at least some sort of image. While the Italian supercars give off a wild, crazy “look at me and how much money I spent on my car” vibe, the Aston screams class and discretion. Don’t forget, James Bond doesn’t drive Ferraris.
Priced at over $250,000 on the road, the new Virage gives you more power, bigger wheels, a sleeker and more meticulously sculpted body, and best of all, a new-car warranty. I have to ask though; why on earth would one spend that kind of money on a brand-new Aston when lightly pre-owned ones are so much more attainable? I mean obviously someone had to buy the new one and suck up the initial depreciation so that people like me can swipe them at a significant discount. Another downside to the Virage is how muffled the exhaust is. Both at idle and wide-open-throttle, the Virage is barely any louder to listen to than a full-size sedan from Jaguar or Mercedes.
A huge part of the appeal of a supercar for me is the sound. There are few better soundtracks in the world than the sound of a European supercar blowing through an enclosed tunnel, and I know that every single car geek in the world will agree with that statement. Why then, does the 2005 DB9 parked beside my Virage sound so much better? I promise I’m not just saying this as someone who loves the DB9, but there’s no doubting that the DB9 is one of the best-sounding cars in the world.
Every car to come out of the factory in Gaydon is hand-built. This of course, decades ago, used to mean that as you drove down the road, the steering wheel would come off in your hands as the car veers into a tree. All of this has changed though. While reliability for cars like the DB9 is probably not quite up to par with the pinnacle of reliability that is the beige Toyota Corolla, it’s often bashed for being an expensive paperweight.
Buyers of pre-owned premium vehicles need to take into account that they aren’t buying a Toyota Corolla. You’re buying a car that once cost north of $200,000. The shadetree mechanic at the corner likely won’t change your oil for $14.99 while tossing in a no-charge filter. Cost of ownership needs to be analyzed very closely, along with a good PPI (pre-purchase inspection) from a reputable shop. If you look at the price tag of a $60,000 2005 DB9 and think of it as an $80,000 purchase, you’ll be fine. Factor in the cost of a major service, a couple parts going wrong here and there, and you’re golden. Keep in mind a well-equipped Mercedes-Benz E-Class retails for about $80,000 too.
$60,000 for a pristine used DB9 or $200,000+ for a new Virage; what exactly do you get? Gobs of horsepower (470 from a 6.0 V12 in the DB9, 490 from the same in the Virage), an indescribably passionate driving experience, and what is quite possibly the most understated car on the road right now. You’re a relatively young guy bringing in a six-figure salary. You live in a suave condo overlooking the lake downtown. You have that special lady in your life, but no plans to have kids until you’re done living your youth to its maximum potential. What’s stopping you?