Spirit of the DB5 lives on in the David Brown Speedback GT
The spirit of 1960s classic cars like the Aston Martin DB5 lives on in the form of a brand new sportscar, the David Brown Speedback GT. I was able to have a close look at this beautiful automobile in the temporary showroom in Chelsea, London.
I think this car looks good on me, I'll have one please!
The first time I saw a David Brown Speedback GT in real life was in June 2015, on a highway in Belgium. I noticed a vintage looking car in my rear view mirror, and when it came closer I still thought it was a classic car. Only when it passed me I recognised the design that is so very reminiscent of the DB5. I had read about the Speedback GT and had seen photos online, but it was a very impressive sight to see the car drive on the highway. I was able to capture some shots of the Speedback GT which you can see below and on the Bond Lifestyle Instagram page here, and here.
Captured on the highway, the David Brown Speedback GT
Now, almost a year later, I'm invited for a private viewing of one of the first production models of the Speedback GT and I find out that the car I saw on the highway was one of the prototype show models, driven that day by the founder of the brand, David Brown himself with next to him David Brown's brand manager Michelle Gay who is now so kind to give me the viewing of the car.
The story of the Speedback GT starts with the vision of a man who's name happens to be the same as the name of the head of Aston Martin from 1947 to 1972, Sir David Brown. (The letters DB in the models DB2, DB3, DB4, DB5, DB6, DB7, DB9 and DBS are a reference to Sir David Brown). The Speedback GT's David Brown is a successful British entrepreneur with a love for vintage cars, but like many car enthusiasts, he is not so keen on the (reliability of) vintage technology. And rather than fitting an old Jaguar E-Type with a new engine, Brown decided to build a completely new car, based on state-of-the-art technology but with the looks of all the vintage cars he loves. Soon after starting his project, he realised more people might be interested in a car like this so he sets up David Brown Automotive and designs a car that can be produced in a very limited run.
The Speedback GT, with its high built quality, gives contemporary Astons a run for their money
The result is the impressive Speedback GT, a car that aims to please the eye, is easy to drive, but appeals to the people that have it all, the richest people on the planet. To do this, each part of this car needed to be perfect, the quality of an extremely high level. So the Speedback GT is not only a beautiful car, but is made with the latest 3D sculpting technology, combined with countless man hours of skilled craftsmen. The body for example is made from 42 aluminum panels that are hammered, shaped and assembled by hand.
Powerful LED lights in the vintage looking headlights
The design is of course the first thing that touches the heart of the beholder, and the Speedback GT offers plenty of emotions. Chrome details, spoke rims, a large hood and short back, and the sensual lines of a classic Grand Tourer two-seater. Hardly anything of the exterior tells you that this is a modern car, only perhaps the slightly oversized side mirrors.
The car is obviously greatly inspired by the most famous movie car of all time, the Aston Martin DB5, although on closer inspection there are many differences with this style icon and other influences can be spotted as well, including those of 1960s Jaguars, Ferraris, Maseratis and Porsches.
Besides the overall similar shape of the DB5, there are some elements that clearly reference the DB5, for example the side vents with chrome stripe, the large air intake on the hood, the round headlights with smaller round parking/blinker lights below, and the shape of the rear lights.
The Speedback GT looks good from every angle
And what about the emblem - compare the DB5 logo and the Speedback GT's emblems below.
Compare the DB5 and Speedback GT emblems
But the Speedback GT is not a replica. Far from it. It dares to challenge it inspiring ancestor with some bold new design elements, like the fantastic leather picnic bench that slides out of the rear (suggested by a talented design intern). A feature that Q would be proud of, and James Bond would find appropriate (or inappropriate) use for.
Fancy having a picnic?
With an attention to detail in every aspect, the GT rivals the top of the range cars of top luxury and sportscar makers available today. And the Speedback GT offers something that even Ferrari, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce have more and more difficulty in providing: exclusivity. Ferrari sold more than 7,500 cars in 2015, and Lamborghini sold more than 3,600 of their successful top model, the Aventador in the last 5 years. The Speedback GT? Only 100 of these cars will be made. Ever. Now that is something that appeals to the people that have it all and want to stand out. Together with the vintage looks, extremely high build quality and modern technology, it's a solid offer from such a young car producer.
Speaking of technology, you are probably wondering what is under that beautifully sculpted hood. No, it's not an Aston Martin engine, but the roaring 5.0 litre V8 of the latest Jaguar XKR, which is supercharged to produce 500bhp at 6000rpm. It elegantly accelerates from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds. With a little extra weight compared to the XKR, the GT's not a pure racing machine, but as a Gran Tourer should, it will get you where ever you go fast enough and in style.
In fact not only the engine is based on an XKR. The chassis, drivetrain, automatic 6-speed gearbox, suspension and most other technical elements are taken from the powerful Jag. And it doesn't stop there: even the interior contains many technical elements of the Jag.
The benefits of these Jaguar influences are obvious: you can bring it to a local Jaguar dealership for maintenance and new parts will be easily available.
Beauty and comfort combined in the handcrafted interior
The cabin of the car is quite a step up from a Jaguar and even from many of the current Aston Martins. The leather and wood covered interior is a feast of the eye, and even for a tall person like me (1m95) it's very comfortable in the soft seats, with enough space between the top of my head and the roof.
Only the finest Scottish leathers and premium English wood veneers are used in the interior of Speedback GT.
The inside of the doors have unique shapes that can only be created by 3D sculpting techniques.
I was allowed to press the START button, and the deafening start-up roar gave half the people in the store a proper scare.
The central console with beautifully shaped solid aluminum details.
The steering wheel also gives another subtle nod to the DB5 with the steel studded wooden design.
There are two seats in the back, making it a 2+2, but like with many GTs or sportscars, these seats are fairly useless, so you are better off choosing the optional storage space instead of the chairs.
The company prides itself on making each Speedback GT exactly to the taste of the lucky buyer, so most things can be customised. Which options would you have installed? A champagne cooler, naturally. A few hidden compartments, of course. And what about the colors? A red leather interior and gunmetal grey exterior? Or this light blue paint combined with tan leather?
The first Speedback GT was delivered to a client only a few months ago, and it is being driven around Paris by its owner regularly, proving this car can be your daily driver. This lovely blue specimen that I had the pleasure of meeting will be rolling to its new owner as we speak.
For the wheels you can choose between classic metal spokes (see above) or a modern interpretation of the British Flag.
...or wheels inspired by the British Flag?
photo © David Brown
Unfortunately there are no plans to make the Speedback GT into a convertible. Too complicated for a small motor company like David Brown Automotive. But who knows, if the Speedback GT is a success, maybe the next David Brown will be a reincarnation of... may I suggest an E-Type Convertible?
You can get yourself a brand new, customised Speedback GT for about £500,000 excluding taxes... which is almost the same price of a vintage Aston Martin DB5 (although the value of those is rising fast). I guarantee you the Speedback GT will turn just as many heads as the DB5 and you will be much more comfortable and a lot faster. If I had the choice, I would have to think twice. But people that have choice, probably just get both.
With thanks to Michelle Gay at David Brown
All photos © Remmert van Braam/Bond Lifestyle unless stated otherwise
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