Not that long ago we wrote about the nine best Aston Martin road cars ever, which covered everything from the company’s first car back in 1913 to the current, and unhinged, Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. What that list didn’t include, however, was any Aston Martin concepts. Now granted, not every Aston Martin concept car has been completely bonkers, in fact far from it, but there have been both some wacky and some beautiful creations over the years. So, without further ado, here’s our rundown of the best Aston Martin concepts ever created.
The seven best Aston Martin concepts ever
1940 Aston Martin Atom
In the motoring world the name ‘Atom’ is best associated with British company Ariel, which launched the insane Ariel Atom back in the early 2000s. But as the prospect of war grew greater in the late 1930s, and decades before anyone involved in the Ariel project had even been born, it was an Aston Martin that wore the Atom nameplate.
The Aston Martin Atom was a one-off concept, and quite a change in visual pace from the company’s other cars of the time. Designed by longstanding Aston engineer Claude Hill, he and Aston Martin board member Gordon Sutherland wanted to design something that was comfortable and, equally, something that handled, all wrapped up in a package unlike anything else on the road. The result was the steel tube-framed chassis, aluminium-bodied machine you see here, unveiled to the public for the first time at the Rivers-Fletcher enthusiasts meeting at Chessington in July 1940.
It wasn’t just a static concept either, as plenty of concepts are created with the idea that they will handle well without ever really having to prove it. The Atom has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, was driven daily by Sutherland and, when tested by Motorsport in 1942, tester Cecil Clutton reported “this is a machine which convinces you within the first half mile that it is a winner. I have never driven a car which I could handle with greater confidence in the wet”.
1979 Aston Martin Bulldog
When it comes to Aston Martin concept cars, perhaps the most famous of all is the Aston Martin Bulldog. I mean, just look at it.
The Bulldog was the work of William Towns, a man whose career began as a door handle designer at Rootes, before he moved on to Hillman, Rover and then Aston Martin. He had some funky ideas (a look at the cars he designed will tell you all you need to know), and he brought his passion for experimentation to Aston Martin. His first car for the company was relatively normal, the original DBS, but the vehicle that followed, the Aston Martin Lagonda, was his first opportunity to do something a little mad.
Having created one funky machine he set about working on a second. His goals were to design something that showed off Aston Martin’s Newport Pagnell production facility and, perhaps the bigger challenge, to build the fastest production car in the world. The result was the Aston Martin Bulldog.
The Bulldog looks absolutely mental, and with a turbocharged 5.3-litre V8 with, it was reported, more than 650PS (484kW), it went pretty well, too, with a theoretical top speed of 237mph. Towns had hoped for around 15 cars to be produced, but before the project could really gather pace the money, as has happened often in Aston Martin’s history, dried up, meaning just one car was ever built. It was sold to a Prince in the Middle East in the early 1980s for around £130,000. One of the last times it was spotted publicly was at the 2009 Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard.
In 2020, however, it’s become clear the Bulldog hasn’t disappeared never to be seen again. Now in the hands of a new owner, a company has been tasked with a 18-month long total restoration that’ll see everything checked, repaired or replaced, if absolutely necessary. The goal is to take the Bulldog to 200mph, something it never managed when it was built, with a testing best of 192mph in 1979, before sending it on a world tour for all the world’s car nerds to see. Whoever you are Anonymous Bulldog owner, thank you oh so much.
1993 Aston Martin Lagonda Vignale
And the award for the most un-Aston-like Aston Martin goes to the Aston Martin Lagonda Vignale Concept. Depending on how you look at it you can see elements of Aston Martin, Bugatti and Lancia, with perhaps a hint of Mazda Xedos thrown in, too. By goodness is it a cool looking thing.
The Lagonda Vignale Concept was thrust into the limelight at the 1993 Geneva Motor Show, built for Aston Martin by Ghia which was, like Aston, a business that sat neatly under Ford’s umbrella. The idea was to see how much interest a four-door Lagonda would get, and as it turned out it got quite a lot.
It had a 4.6-litre Ford V8 under the bonnet (with a very uninspiring 190PS (141kW) and 352Nm. It also had a four-speed automatic transmission from [shudder] the Lincoln Town Car, the car on which the concept was built, with Aston promising a V12 for the real deal if it ever went into production. It didn’t. The Ian Callum designed DB7 was given the go-ahead, whereas the Vignale Concept, penned largely by Ian’s brother Moray, was pushed to one side.
Still, it’s a blurry, bonkers mash-up of old and new, and, weirdly, we rather like it.
1996 DB7 V12 Prototype TWR
We’ve written many times about Tom Walkinshaw Racing, and even a mention of ‘TWR’ will more than likely conjure up images of TWR-developed Jaguar XJR-9s steaming round Le Mans and Daytona. But TWR had a hand in the development of more than just a handful of Jaguar racers. TWR had a hand in the development of the DB7.
Now it could be argued that the car you see here, the DB7 V12 Prototype from TWR, isn’t a concept at all – what’s so mad about a DB7 with a V12 engine? Well as customers started to ask for more power from their DB7’s, the DB7 V12 developed by TWR was a proof of concept that a V12 engine in a DB7 could work.
Having raced with V12s throughout the 1980s and carried out some of the development work for the early straight-six DB7, TWR, entirely independently of Aston Martin, began to play around with the idea of a V12 DB7 in the early 1990s. As it happened Aston had been thinking along the same lines. TWR’s V12 was a big 6.4-litre race-derived unit with approximately 475PS (354kW) and 637Nm of torque, more than more enough for a DB7. Tom Walkinshaw even used it as his daily driver to make sure it was developed thoroughly. Sadly, however, Aston Martin’s tie-up with Ford led Ford to develop a V12, the 6.0-litre V12 that lived on until the Aston Martin Vanquish was discontinued in 2018. The DB7 V12 dream was dead for TWR, and that one concept was eventually sold off. Still, what a hooligan. A naturally-aspirated detuned racing V12 in a manual shifted, rear-wheel-drive Aston Martin? That sounds pretty juicy…
2001 Aston Martin 2020 Concept
The Aston Martin 2020 Concept is striking, right? How could anyone in 2001 have thought that an Aston Martin of the future would be quite so hit-you-over-the-head shocking? Well, to be fair, that grille shape and those headlights aren’t entirely different to those of the current Aston Martin Vantage, are they?
Unveiled at the 2001 Geneva Motor Show by Italdesign and Giorgetto Giugiaro, the 2020 Concept was a glimpse at what the future for Aston Martin could be like. To anyone walking around the halls at Geneva it must have seemed like a very far-flung creation indeed, given that all Aston was building at the time was the DB7 and first generation Vanquish.
Strange though the concept looked (the lighter coloured strips look a bit like lines of duct tape), it was a working prototype with a 6.0-litre V12 under the bonnet, built on an aluminium chassis with composite and carbon-fibre body panels. Unlike the DB7 and the Vanquish it appears to be a strict two-seater, but believe it or not the carpet-covered space behind the seats could be repurposed to seat two children. Quite how comfortable they’d be we’re not sure…
2013 Aston Martin CC100 Speedster Concept
Do you like the wind in your hair, grit in your eyeballs and deceased flies in your teeth? Well, the Aston Martin CC100 Concept will be right up your street.
For any company to reach 100 years of age is quite some achievement, but for Aston Martin to make it there, given its rollercoaster of a history, is nothing short of miraculous. As such, company bosses wanted to celebrate with something very ‘out there’, the likes of which no one would expect. The result was the roofless and screenless CC100 Concept.
A tribute to the DBR1, the CC100 was launched at the Nürburgring 24 Hours back in 2013. Why the Nürburgring? Because the DBR1 won the Nürburgring 1,000km in 1959 at the hands of Stirling Moss. And who would be driving the DBR1, alongside the CC100 with then-CEO Dr Ulrich Bez at the wheel? It was, of course, the legend Sir Stirling Moss.
A front-engined, rear-wheel-drive two seater with a six-speed sequential gearbox out back and the DB9’s 6.0-litre V12 stretching out before the driver, it was built by motorsport engineering company Multimatic and constructed, with the exception of the chassis, entirely out of carbon-fibre. It also went from sketch pad to fully functioning concept in just six months.
Two were built, both of which were sold to very loyal Aston Martin customers. One of which is said to have been bought to sit in a collection. It is rumoured that the other, however, would be made road legal by its owner… Whether that owner did or did not manage to make that happen, we’re willing to bet he’d have been punching his telephone to get his name down for the V12 Speedster.
2019 Aston Martin Vanquish Vision Concept
You wait for a mid-engined Aston Martin to turn up and three come along at once. The Aston Martin Vanquish Vision Concept was unveiled in 2019, the second of three mid-engined Aton Martins to be unveiled in the space of two years. The first was the Valkyrie, the fastest and most complicated Aston Martin to date, with a 6.5-litre, naturally-aspirated V12-hybrid powertrain designed in conjunction with Red Bull Advanced Engineering and F1 design guru Adrian Newey. The third was the Valhalla, a twin-turbo V6-hybrid hypercar with a little less aero and a few more road manners. At the bottom of Aston’s mid-engined food chain was the Vanquish, a mid-engined, twin-turbo V6 machine with even more usability and, crucially, without a hybrid powertrain.
This is the ‘normal’ mid-engined Aston Martin supercar of the future, and even though it has been delayed somewhat, what with Aston Martin’s takeover by Lawrence Stroll (both the Vanquish and Valhalla have been delayed until the DBX has really started to sell), this car will happen. That gets us so, so excited, because not only is a mid-engined Aston a really cool prospect, but the concept is so, so pretty. We can’t wait to see it for real. We really, really can’t.
Main image courtesy of Bonhams.
Which is your favourite Aston Martin concept?
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