22nd Mar 2023
Wednesday One-Off: 2013 Aston Martin DBS Coupe Zagato Centennial
by Collecting Cars
Over the last century the world has changed perhaps more dramatically than at any other point in human history; seeing sweeping technological and societal change, great strife, and even greater enlightenment. For any company to have ridden the waves of this turbulent 100 years, and emerged intact with a world renowned legacy, is something to be celebrated.
Two such companies are Aston Martin and Zagato; a storied British manufacturer known for its elegant and sought-after sports cars, and an Italian coachbuilder with a heritage of producing some of the world’s most beautiful cars. While the businesses had collaborated in the past on the likes of the DB4 GT Zagato and DB7 Zagato series, the 2013 DBS Coupe Zagato Centennial was a true one-off creation.
The origin of this striking machine is partly shrouded in secrecy, with the story being that a Japanese collector approached Zagato with the task of creating a totally unique Aston Martin. Zagato’s Chief Designer Norihiko Harada accepted the challenge, and over the course of some six months he designed a bespoke sports car that would merge the best of British, with “a Mediterranean feel”.
Produced exclusively for its discreet collector, and dovetailing perfectly into the marque’s 100th anniversary, Harada’s vision started with the refined yet ferocious Aston Martin DBS. The 5.9-litre all-aluminium V12 remained unchanged, coupled to a six-speed ‘Touchtronic 2’ transmission, to propel the Zagato Centennial from 0-60mph in just 4.3 seconds.
Inside, the Zagato Centennial again remained largely unchanged from the original DBS, retaining the sophistication and comfort that is so characteristic of the luxury British marque. However, the driver would be in no doubt as to the unique nature of the machine they were sitting in, courtesy of its rich blue leather upholstery, Z-quilted seat inserts, and brushed aluminium trim inlays with embossed Zagato lettering on the transmission tunnel.
It was on the outside that this one-off truly came into its own. The styling was unmistakably Zagato, with distinctive angles and exotic flair, but with visible homages to the Aston Martins of the 1970s and 1980s. At the front, the characteristic Aston Martin grille remained prominent, though it was now merged into a more aggressive ‘snub-nose’ design, with recessed headlights forming an integral part of the iconic grille shape.
The Zagato Centennial also featured a ‘double-bubble’ roof profile, a familiar trademark of the Italian coachbuilder’s designs, accentuated by a one-piece polished aluminium strip that elegantly swept down into the car’s upper beltline. These sharp lines continued the nose cone’s angular cues back over the pronounced haunches and into the pinched-down tail. A new set of tail lights echoed the shape of the headlamps, while trapezoidal exhaust pipes were integrated within the rear diffuser.
Despite an initial discussion with the CEO of Aston Martin, Ulrich Bez, the design and production phases were kept largely under wraps by Zagato, with executives at the British marque first seeing the design when it made its debut at Kensington Gardens in July 2013. Following its unveiling, the car was delivered to its owner, with the final cost reported to be around €1.4 million.
The Aston Martin DBS Coupe Zagato Centennial is a truly striking and evocatively restyled homage to the legacy of the acclaimed British marque. Meticulously designed and crafted by the equally storied Italian coachbuilder, it effortlessly blended Aston Martin’s famed elegance and brutish performance in an extravagant but deftly sculpted body.