Automotive

David Brown's DB5-inspired Speedback debuts in London

David Brown's DB5-inspired Spe...
The David Brown Speedback works off a Jaguar XK chassis and 5.0-liter engine
The David Brown Speedback works off a Jaguar XK chassis and 5.0-liter engine
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From the nose the Speedback looks like it could have been related to a Maserati, Porsche or Mini Cooper in a past life
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From the nose the Speedback looks like it could have been related to a Maserati, Porsche or Mini Cooper in a past life
The Speedback's interior features some nice retro touches
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The Speedback's interior features some nice retro touches
The Speedback’s 5.0-liter supercharged Jaguar V8 provides the fastback with 510 hp and 461 lb.ft of torque, allowing it to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds
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The Speedback’s 5.0-liter supercharged Jaguar V8 provides the fastback with 510 hp and 461 lb.ft of torque, allowing it to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds
The newly-unveiled Speedback takes more than a few design cues from Aston Martin's iconic DB5
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The newly-unveiled Speedback takes more than a few design cues from Aston Martin's iconic DB5
The section behind the rear wheel axis comes off as exceptionally heavy and bulbous when compared to the DB5’s athletic proportions
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The section behind the rear wheel axis comes off as exceptionally heavy and bulbous when compared to the DB5’s athletic proportions
The XK’s aluminum spaceframe chassis also makes its way into the mix, as does the Jaguar 6-speed automatic gearbox and pretty much most of the big cat’s interior decor.
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The XK’s aluminum spaceframe chassis also makes its way into the mix, as does the Jaguar 6-speed automatic gearbox and pretty much most of the big cat’s interior decor.
The aerial view is the kindest to the awkwardly-proportioned Speedback
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The aerial view is the kindest to the awkwardly-proportioned Speedback
The Speedback is designed as a Grand Touring vehicle with 2+2 seating and a hidden seat in the trunk
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The Speedback is designed as a Grand Touring vehicle with 2+2 seating and a hidden seat in the trunk
The resemblance to a Mini Cooper is hard to ignore
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The resemblance to a Mini Cooper is hard to ignore
Key GT elements like the rakish 2+2 cabin and the sloping fastback are there, but the design borrows from Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin and a Mini Cooper, too
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Key GT elements like the rakish 2+2 cabin and the sloping fastback are there, but the design borrows from Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin and a Mini Cooper, too
The section behind the rear wheel axis comes off as exceptionally heavy and bulbous when compared to the DB5’s athletic proportions
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The section behind the rear wheel axis comes off as exceptionally heavy and bulbous when compared to the DB5’s athletic proportions
The David Brown Speedback works off a Jaguar XK chassis and 5.0-liter engine
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The David Brown Speedback works off a Jaguar XK chassis and 5.0-liter engine
The Speedback has a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), and includes seating for four
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The Speedback has a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), and includes seating for four

Unveiled at a private event in London last week, the first design from newly founded David Brown Automotive was made available to a select few. The Speedback from this new automotive enterprise, though not associated with Aston Martin’s founder Sir David Brown (the DB in DB5), takes more than a little artistic license with its interpretation of the James Bond classic.

Borrowed from Jaguar’s XKR, the Speedback’s 5.0-liter supercharged V8 provides the fastback with 510 horsepower (380 kW), 461 lb.ft (625 Nm) of torque and enough tea and crumpets to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds. The XK’s aluminum spaceframe chassis also makes its way into the mix, as does the Jaguar 6-speed automatic gearbox and pretty much most of the big cat’s interior decor. The Speedback does have one original retro-design trick up its sleeve, though, a hidden seat built into the trunk that can be used for any number of bespoke British activities.

The problem that Brown and his Chief Designer, Alan Mobberley, faced in designing the Speedback was that they have essentially tried to improve on the Aston Martin DB5 and DB6, two of the world’s most iconic automobiles. Fiddling with or replacing various design elements in an effort to hide the obvious imitation ultimately brings about the weaknesses and flaws we see in the Speedback.

The Speedback has a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), and includes seating for four
The Speedback has a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), and includes seating for four

The view from the back is probably the Speedback’s most flattering. The stacked taillights and the strong hatch, in combination with the punched out haunches, definitely give the car an air of performance with a slight retro vibe. On profile, the whole thing unfortunately falls apart. The section behind the rear wheel axis comes off as exceptionally heavy and bulbous when compared to the DB5’s athletic proportions.

The case against the car’s aesthetics is further reinforced by the excessive distance between the Speedback’s rocker panels and hoodline and window sills, a byproduct from the XKR’s platform perhaps. An aerial perspective is about the most flattering place to view the Speedback as the car's disproportionate qualities are mostly hidden from sight. To be fair, the car from the front and just off to the side does have some redeeming visual qualities, until it rounds the bend. Then you’re just left shaking your head wanting Daniel Craig to happen by in the real DB5 to cleanse your visual palette.

The Speedback’s 5.0-liter supercharged Jaguar V8 provides the fastback with 510 hp and 461 lb.ft of torque, allowing it to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds
The Speedback’s 5.0-liter supercharged Jaguar V8 provides the fastback with 510 hp and 461 lb.ft of torque, allowing it to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds

Key GT elements like the rakish 2+2 cabin and the sloping fastback are there, but by trying to set the car apart from its mentors, it ends up a disproportionate mashup of Maserati meets Porsche meets Aston Martin in a dark alley. From certain perspectives the car looks good, but the Speedback’s nose and headlights convey a clear message that Brown’s team wanted Aston Martin aspects in the design, but with a twist.

From a nose-on position the car actually exudes some Mini Cooper characteristics. Unfortunately the finished half-effort that is the Speedback would have fared better had the team revamped the design using extreme elements from both ends of the retro and contemporary spectrum.

The David Brown Speedback will travel to Monaco to be shown publicly for the first time at the Top Marques Show from April 17 to 20. No price has been set for the car as yet.

Source: David Brown Automotive

4 comments
owlbeyou
A good illustration of how car design can be most difficult because it has to "work" from many angles. There's always going to be a compromise, and making the final choice can get hairy. Especially if one takes into account their own particular preferences. I guess the trademark Aston grille was verboten, which is too bad. It also shows how this could've worked if only they had tweaked it a little more here and there...
Synchro
I think they could have copied the Aston grille a little more - it's nowhere near as close as Ford's "Baby Aston" Fiesta! I think the main pic in the article looks much more Ferrari 250 GT than DB6 at the front.
Rt1583
The first thing I thought of when I saw the first picture was that this is what the Avanti would look like if it were modernized. Aside from that, if it weren't so slab sided it might stand a chance of looking pretty good from the majority of angles that normal people view a car from.
Stephen N Russell
awesome, love to rent this machine, radical,