Unlike earlier special vehicle operations, Dave’s “skunk works” operates with a degree of autonomy with its own 40-strong staff in separate facilities at Wellesbourne, 10 miles from the firm’s Gaydon HQ.
The new-look outfit is the brainchild of Aston Martin chief and general new broom, Andy Palmer, the exec who gave up one of the world’s most powerful motor industry positions for a chance to steer a revitalized Aston Martin into its second century. The skunk works is one of Dr Palmer’s four pillars on which future success for the company will be built, along with the recently unveiled DB11, the DBX crossover to be built in Wales, and a resurgent saloon line to include electric vehicles and a return of the Lagonda name.
It’s Dave King’s job to conjure two specials a year out of that lot, and you’d have to agree that, so far, he’s off to a flyer. The tally so date: the DB10 for the Bond movie, Lagonda Taraf, Vulcan, Vantage GT12 and most recently Vantage GT8. Handily everything Dave and his team put their names to seems to sell out quickly – even the new GT8 and that was only launched in mid April. Special projects is also responsible for Aston’s concept cars and made the exquisite centenary special CC100 which we saw at at the Festival of Speed in 2013.
“Andy has given us licence to be more entrepreneurial and generate ideas ourselves,” Dave King tells GRR. “The more success we have the more we can grow and develop.”