The prototype car, converted from an early DB7 Vantage Volante was initially shown to potential clients in Los Angeles just prior to the public unveiling at the LA Auto Show in early January 2003. A very limited production run was then planned and within only three months, all 99 planned production examples were apparently taken up by eager enthusiasts. Right from the start, AML didn’t want this car to be seen as an open DB7 Zagato, and I must admit I didn’t understand exactly why but now I know. The DB7 Zagato chassis is shortened, whereas the DB AR1 chassis is kept as the standard length due to the demands of US safely regulations. If the chassis had been shortened to the length of the DB7 Zagato, the AR1 would have to have undergone further expensive crash testing.
The DB AR1 was based on the DB7 Vantage Volante and features coachwork designed and executed by Zagato in Italy. The rare six speed manual car is powered by an uprated ‘GT’ version of the V12, with power boosted slightly to 435bhp, torque to 410 lb ft plus an active sports exhaust system similar to that on the V12 Vanquish. Far more DB AR1’s were made with Touchtronic 5 speed transmission mated to the regular 420bhp rated engine. This enables the manual car to achieve 184mph and 0-60 in 5.0 seconds whereas the auto was limited to 165mph and does the dash to 60 in 5.1 seconds.
The DB AR1 was intended to be the last Aston Martin to be built at the DB7 production facility, Bloxham, before it early in 2004. Oddly, during a tour of the new Gaydon facility during September 2003, a small number of DB AR1 bodyshells were spotted around the paint shop.
Not all the DB AR1’s were delivered to the US. Eight left hand drive cars were delivered to customers in mainland Europe, mostly Germany and a single right hand drive production example has remained in the UK for a very fortunate customer.
Generally speaking, the DB AR1 appears to be been the least practical road car AML have ever made. Few if any of the examples reaching the second hand market appear to have covered many miles. Collectors in the UK took advantage of the strong pound to re-import during 2007 this fascinating car for use on dry Summer days only. You will see below one UK example with a rudimentary canvas hood retro fitted. I’m also aware that one owner is having a hardtop made here in the UK which might work quite well.
The car above is the prototype car from the LA Auto Show and was based on a converted 2002MY Vantage Volante. One feature only carried over to tiny number of production cars is the charcoal windscreen surround; most production cars have body painted windscreen surrounds.
The car featured above is also a unique DB AR1 as it is chassis number 100 out of a customer production run of 99 cars. This example is chassis number 800100, right hand drive, six speed manual transmission that has been retained by AML for their collection. I photographed it in October 2004 at the British Motor Heritage Trust Museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire where it can often be seen on display.
All rights to supply parts for the DB AR1 are now held by the Dutch Aston Martin Heritage specialist, Noble House.