2008 Private Preview: Rapide Fire

  • The concept car that serves as the model for Aston Martin’s Rapide (which likely will not have a glass roof).
<< Back to Robb Report, October 2007
  • Paul Dean

At various times in the previous

century, Rapide—an exotic and evocative word—has denoted a fabric and plywood

airliner (in the 1930s), a cycle-fendered roadster (also in the ’30s), and a

European fast ferry (’90s).

Now the name Rapide has returned, raised from the

dust by British carmaker Aston Martin, keeper of the flame and files of Lagonda,

the company that built the original Rapide tourers (1934–1937), the Lagonda

Rapide (1961–1964), and the four-door Aston Martin Lagondas (1976–1989). Aston,

which until earlier this year was owned by the Ford Motor Co., will begin

producing a new Rapide for 2009, three years after the vehicle’s premiere as the

premier concept car (pictured) of the 2006 North American International Auto

Show in Detroit.

In the last two-plus years, Aston has launched five new cars—a

magnificent and well-received miscellany of coupes and convertibles, V-8s, and

V-12s. The company has whelped more cars in the past five years than it had in

its previous eight decades, and all have embodied the business gospel according

to CEO Ulrich Bez, who insisted that the brand remain politely independent of

Ford when building engines, transmissions, technology, and major parts, because,

he says, an Aston is "not just another chunk of metal."

Aston will build the Rapide upon the same platform and with

nearly the same dimensions—but for its 10-inch-longer wheelbase—as the DB9.

Power has been improved from 450 hp to 480 hp, and top speed will be a whisker

away from 200 mph, courtesy of a 6-liter V-12. The V-12 is the same engine

configuration as that of the original Lagonda Rapide. Also worth noting is that

even chief designer W.O. Bentley—yes, that W.O. Bentley—could squeeze only 175

hp and a top speed of 105 mph from his V-12s.

More significant than its history or its muscle is the new

Rapide’s configuration; it will be a four-door, four-seater priced at more than

$200,000 and presented as Aston Martin’s challenge to Bentley’s Flying Spur and

Maserati’s Quattroporte (and Porsche’s Panamera, which will arrive within the

next two years). "We see it as our flagship car," says Aston spokesman Tim

Watson. "It is strikingly different but still shows the Aston Martin traditions.

And a trust. It’s not a Ferrari and it’s not a Porsche. It’s an Aston."

Aston Martin, www­.astonmartin.com

From Around the Web...
Jaguar and Bentley are among the marques charging ahead on all-electric cars and concepts…
The Callaway Corvette Aerowagen Shooting Brake
The performance package gives the car 757 hp and a rear hatch…
The Rickman Revival Velocette
The three-day celebration of beautiful bikes will also feature a Wall of Death stunt show…
The Audi R8 LMS GT4
Based off the R8 Coupe, the car will be eligible to compete in motorsports’ GT4 category worldwide…
The Mercedes-AMG S63
The full-size flagship gets a redesigned interior, new engine, and improved autonomous technology...
The "Inspired by Monte Carlo" Mini Remastered by David Brown Automotive.
The customizable model is constructed by hand and pairs vintage styling with high-tech touches…
Bentley’s Racing Program Takes to the GT3 Track
The marque is on a roll after recently racing at the Pirelli World Challenge in Long Beach, Calif…
Zelectric's reimagined Porsche 911S Targa with an electric power train.
The electrified convertible can cover zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds as it bolts to 150 mph…
From racing coupes to concept SUVs, these are the cars that caught our eye…
The 2018 Lincoln Navigator SUV
new 450 hp engine and six drive modes help chart the SUV’s future course…