What makes the DB AR1 most unique is that the car was designed specifically for an overseas market, and in this case, not just the US as a whole but effectively the sunshine States of California and Florida. Another unique feature – the total lack of a roof – is what prevents the car being called a ‘Volante’ – all Volante’s at least have a folding fabric roof of some description.
The prototype car, converted from an early DB7 Vantage Volante was initially shown to potential clients in Los Angeles just prior to the public unveiling at the LA Auto Show in early January 2003. A very limited production run was then planned and within only three months, all 99 planned production examples were apparently taken up by eager enthusiasts. Right from the start, AML didn’t want this car to be seen as an open DB7 Zagato. The DB7 Zagato chassis is shortened, whereas the DB AR1 chassis is kept as the standard length due to the demands of US safely regulations. If the chassis had been shortened to the length of the DB7 Zagato, the AR1 would have to have undergone further expensive crash testing.
The DB AR1 was based on the DB7 Vantage Volante and features coachwork designed and executed by Zagato in Italy. The rare six speed manual car is powered by an uprated ‘GT’ version of the V12, with power boosted slightly to 435bhp, torque to 410 lb ft plus an active sports exhaust system similar to that on the V12 Vanquish. Far more DB AR1’s were made with Touchtronic 5 speed transmission mated to the regular 420bhp rated engine. This enables the manual car to achieve 184mph and 0-60 in 5.0 seconds whereas the auto was limited to 165mph and does the dash to 60 in 5.1 seconds.
The DB AR1 was intended to be the last Aston Martin to be built at the DB7 production facility, Bloxham, before it early in 2004. Oddly, during a tour of the new Gaydon facility during September 2003, a small number of DB AR1 bodyshells were spotted around the paint shop.
Not all the DB AR1’s were delivered to the US. Eight left hand drive cars were delivered to customers in mainland Europe, mostly Germany and a single right hand drive production example has remained in the UK for a very fortunate customer.
Generally speaking, the DB AR1 appears to be been the least practical road car AML have ever made. Few if any of the examples reaching the second hand market appear to have covered many miles. Collectors in the UK took advantage of the strong pound to re-import during 2007 this fascinating car for use on dry Summer days only.
Extremely limited production; The 39th of just 99 produced with coachwork by Zagato, in Antrim Blue paint work and Dark Grey hide, with only 2000 recorded miles. The DB AR1 comes with the state-of-the-art, 6.0-litre V12 enjoying a boost in maximum power to 435bhp, some 20 horsepower more than the DB7 Vantage. This power increase together with more torque, a revised final drive ratio and ‘active’ sports exhaust system produce a noticeable improvement in mid range performance, where it is most useful in everyday driving. An AP twin-plate racing clutch combined with a revised quick-shift gear-lever for the six-speed manual transmission enable the driver to maximise use of the increase in power and torque and enjoy a faster gear change. Retains original owner’s manuals and umbrellas. The DB AR1 remains as popular and iconic today as when it was first built, and opportunities to acquire one are few and far between. This example, in excellent colours and with low original mileage, would be a superb addition to any Aston Martin connoisseur’s stable.