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Aston Martin DBS Superleggera: the cars that shaped the marque’s Vanquish replacement

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Aston Martin Vanquish S
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Aston Martin Vanquish S
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Aston Martin Vanquish S

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Aston Martin
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Aston Martin Vanquish S

From luxury grand tourers to V8-engined monsters, here are the ancestors of Aston’s latest model

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - 4:05pm

Aston Martin has been on a product offensive that kicked off with the 2016 launch of the DB11 grand tourer and was followed by an all-new version of the Vantage sports car. 

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The British marque now has a third model in the works, and it’s due to arrive by the end of the year.

The new car will replace the current Vanquish S and will take the form of a two-door grand tourer.

It won’t adopt the Vanquish moniker, however, but will instead be known as the DBS Superleggera, a name derived from Aston Martin models dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

The carmaker is expected to unveil the highly anticipated grand tourer in the coming weeks. Until then, here are some of the cars that laid the groundwork for the DBS Superleggera. 

DBS and V8 Vantage


Following years of slight design revisions to its DB4, DB5 and DB6 grand tourers, Aston Martin introduced an all-new model in 1967, the DBS. A radical departure from the company’s previous flagship cars, the DBS featured bodywork by Italian design house Touring that was more angular than those of its predecessors. 

The DBS was powered by the same 4.0-litre straight-six engine as the DB6, although the new car was significantly larger. 

In 1969, Aston Martin introduced the 320bhp V8-engined DBS V8, later dubbed the AM V8. 

The company soon realised there was potential for more power with its eight-cylinder engine, and a sportier V8 Vantage model [pictured above] was launched in 1977. This version upped the power output to 380bhp, taking the grand tourer from 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds, and on to a top speed of 170mph. 

Many versions of the V8 Vantage were made, including a limited-edition model penned by Italian designers Zagato, before the popular grand tourer was phased out of production in 1989. 

Virage


Launched in 1989, the Virage was the first all-new model to enter the Aston Martin range for 20 years. It was powered by a reworked version of the Vantage’s 5.3-litre V8 engine,but was a quieter and more relaxing drive.

Aston Martin increased the car’s engine capacity to 6.0 litres in 1992, and introduced anti-lock brakes (ABS). The Virage retained its subdued looks for much of its ten-year lifespan, although a drop-top version [pictured above] was introduced in 1990. 

A high-performance version of the car resurrected the Vantage name in 1993, and was followed by the monstrous Le Mans edition. 

Vanquish, first generation


Like the DBS, the first-generation Vanquish was a complete departure from its predecessor. Gone were the Virage’s boxy and muscular proportions, which were replaced with a sleek new design. 

Each Vanquish was fitted with a handmade 5.9-litre V12 engine that was inscribed with the name of the engineer who assembled it. Materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre were used to build the car, to help keep the Vanquish’s weight to a minimum without compromising safety. 

Only 1,489 examples of the Vanquish were produced before it was replaced by a more powerful S variant in 2005. 

The Vanquish S was almost identical in appearance to the previous model, but Aston Martin tweaked the new car’s chassis and engine to improve handling and performance. The car also had an improved semi-automatic gearbox, although critics weren’t impressed by the transmissions shift times. 

Many will remember the Vanquish as the star car in Pierce Brosnan’s final James Bond film, Die Another Day. In the 2002 film, the car was kitted out with  gadgets including hidden rockets behind the front grille. 

Vanquish, second generation


Aston Martin Vanquish S

The final version of the Vanquish arrived in 2012 and was viewed as a more attainable version of Aston Martin’s ultra-exclusive One-77 hypercar.

Powered by a reworked version of the 5.9-litre V12 that appeared in the first-generation Vanquish, the new car was a more luxurious and sporty alternative to the Aston Martin DB9 coupe. 

Although the DB9 and the Vanquish were similar in design, the latter came with carbon-fibre body panels and air inlets derived from the One-77. The tail lights were also inspired by those on the hypercar, as was the bonnet. 

This model was succeeded last year by the Vanquish S [pictured above], featuring new carbon-fibre bodywork and an increase in engine power. The £200,000 Vanquish is still in sale, but the flagship will be replaced by the DBS Superleggera when it arrives at the end of the year.

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