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· Pimpzilla
11,102 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
ohoh almostki, looks like Aston Martin wants to compete w/Porsche! :eek:


Aston Martin is laying out a grand expansion plan that it hopes will see sales jump upwards of 350 percent by mid-decade. But in the process, it will pit the venerable British marque against one of the sports car market’s toughest competitors, Germany’s Porsche AG.

Most widely known as the brand driven by super-spy James Bond, Aston builds sleek and expensive high-performance sports cars, vehicles that can carry prices well in excess of $200,000. Currently, there are two cars in its lineup: the DB7 and the top-line Vanquish, which boasts 460 horsepower and a top speed of 196 mph.

The automaker has been quietly at work developing another product, a two-seat sports car intended to be the highest volume model in Aston’s 83-year history. Codenamed AM305, and rumored to be getting the production nameplate DB5, it will hit the street sometime in 2005.

“It will be about the size of a 911, but a lot wider,” hinted Henrick Fiscker, Aston’s design director.

Behind the curtain

During a background briefing on the AM305 project, Fiscker sketched out the basic outline of the two-seater. Though it shares about the same overall length as the 911, it will feature a much longer hood, meant to accommodate the car’s front/mid-engine layout. The wheelbase will be notably longer than the Porsche flagship, and the AM305 will sit lower. One of its more striking features, according to Fiscker, will be an exaggerated version of Aston’s traditional grille. But the Danish designer stressed this will not be a retro car, but rather, one “moving in a very modern direction,” with what he suggests are unique design cues.

In terms of price, the AM305 will target the higher end of the 911 range — around $100,000, Aston officials noted. It’s an exclusive niche and one that is dominated by only a few brands, Porsche in particular. So for Aston to succeed, it needs to find a unique selling proposition.

Expect the British carmaker to emphasize that the new sports car will be hand-built, keeping with Aston tradition. In an age of mass production, Fiscker believes that will be a definite draw for at least some buyers, and could help the AM305 carve out a niche, even if it can’t out-perform the Porsche.

“It’s not all about speed,” Fiscker contended. “That’s not the sum of Aston Martin,” he said, “to just go out and claim we have the fastest car and the most horsepower.” Instead, he promised his company would bring to market a “harmonious” blend of performance and styling, quality and craftsmanship.

Fiscker put special emphasis on the interior package he is developing for the AM305, especially the gauge and control cluster, which he hinted would be visually distinctive while putting an emphasis on ergonomics, often an afterthought with high-performance sports cars.

Driving for flair

The front/mid-engine packaging means the car’s powertrain will be mounted just back of the front axle, which should give it an ideal weight balance. The 911’s rear-mounted engine has some definite advantages, but that layout can cause some handling issues when the vehicle is driven to the limits.

Expect the AM305 to feature a unique-to-Aston V-8, though the engine will start with a block shared with its British affiliate, Jaguar. While precise details are not available, it would not surprise observers if the AM305 used a supercharger to boost performance, either as a standard feature or as part of an optional performance package.

Aston officials emphasized that other than the Jaguar block, and perhaps some very insignificant mechanical bits kept far from the driver’s line of sight, the AM305 will not share any parts with Jaguar or other members of the Ford Motor Co. family. Jaguar is part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group (PAG), a unit that also comprises Land Rover and Volvo. Ford has a lot riding on the PAG, which is expected to generate a third of the company’s profits by mid-decade.

Aston was actually the first of those upscale brands to be acquired by Ford, and has undergone significant changes since it was purchased in 1986 as part of a deal personally overseen by the U.S. automaker’s former CEO, the late Henry Ford II. Most recently, Aston has rebuilt the assembly line at its headquarters plant in Newport Pagnell, about two hours north of London.

Built on the site of a Victorian-era coach manufacturer, the aged facility still has about a dozen specially-trained metalworkers who spend hours hammering out each aluminum panel for the $225,000 Vanquish. But the facility now relies on a variety of more modern manufacturing processes to put together a car using some of the most sophisticated materials found in any automobile on the road, including carbon fibre.

It is unclear where the AM305 will be built and how much more Aston Martin will move towards state-of-the-art assembly processes. But clearly it will have to reduce the time spent on each vehicle, as it intends to produce several thousand of the new vehicles each year.

Aston has already grown a good bit since 1993, when its volume slipped to an anemic 43 cars. Last year, that surged to 1542, a number that should hold relatively flat for all of 2002. The carmaker simply cannot keep up with demand, said spokesman Tim Watson, noting that the waiting list for the Vanquish is about two years, and depending on the degree of customization, DB7 customers can be put on hold for up to six months.

If the AM305 meets Aston’s expectations, the automaker’s sales should surge to anywhere from 3500 to 5500 annually, according to Watson. That would put it on a par, perhaps even slightly ahead of Italy’s Ferrari, the largest of the hand-built sports car brands—but still well behind Porsche. Some observers suspect Aston’s goals could stretch even higher over the long-term, and they wouldn’t be surprised to see even more products added to its lineup before decade’s end.

· Registered
44 Posts
Long Post, I lost interest. Anyhow, when I traveled to Europe this summer, there was an Aston Martin, and a Ferrari in the airport. Just sitting in the airport for all to droll over and scratch up with their luggage. Sweet cars, I liked the Aston even better than the Ferrari.

On an additional note, I was excited to get there and see all of the different cars of course, and the first car I see parked in the airport parking lot was the new civic type-r, looked pretty good.
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