This Aston Martin was so good we actually wanted to buy one

The details are clean, simple, and sinuous.
Aston Martin DB9 25Hollis Johnson

Sometimes a car just takes your breath away — in every imaginable way. It’s even better if this experience is totally unexpected.

I mean, wow.

This happened recently with our transportation team when we checked out an Aston Martin DB9 for a few days. The DB9 isn’t exactly a new car — it’s been around since 2003. The formula for this grand tourer is quite simple and involves two parts. Part one is a gigantic V12 engine stuffed under the hood. Part two is an abundance of suave, British tailoring.

Because what we have in the DB9 is effectively an English Corvette, minus the bone-crunching redneck ‘Vette associations. They’ve been replaced with the requisite infusion of James Bond, which makes sense as Mr. Bond has always been an Aston man.

Honestly, we weren’t expected to be so thoroughly captivated by the DB9. With “only” 510 horsepower, it’s left in the dust, on paper, by several competitors these days. But massive horsepower can be a mere number — it’s in the way that you use it, to borrow a line from a famous English guitarist.

And the DB9 uses all its horsepower to perfection. All while looking so, so good. I’ve had a lot of sexy cars in my driveway, but the $200,000 DB9, in a striking red paint job, stopped more than a few folks in their tracks as they strolled by.

Photos by Hollis Johnson.

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The DB9 was designed by Henrik Fisker, and although its debt to the classic Jaguar E-Type is obvious, in red this car has more curb appeal than should be legal.
The DB9 was designed by Henrik Fisker, and although its debt to the classic Jaguar E-Type is obvious, in red this car has more curb appeal than should be legal.
The DB9 was designed by Henrik Fisker, and although its debt to the classic Jaguar E-Type is obvious, in red this car has more curb appeal than should be legal.
Hollis Johnson
What does it look like when every angle, swoop, line, and curve on a car is right? It looks like the DB9. More recent examples of this genre — the 2+2 GT coupe — can come off as burly and over-muscled. But not the DB9. And believe me, it’s very hard to be this gorgeous without expending seemingly any effort.

This is not an angry face. This is not a serious face. This is a purposeful face.
This is not an angry face. This is not a serious face. This is a purposeful face.
Hollis Johnson
The front-end proportions are completely in balance: headlights, hood width, grille, aerodynamics. The Aston badge is also refreshingly modest. This all enables you to focus on the best feature of the car’s hood, which is how long it is. This is a hood that announces a car with a forceful fanfare that never threatens to go out of tune.
The badging on the rear is low-key …
The badging on the rear is low-key …
Hollis Johnson
So it’s a DB9, not a DB7.

… very low-key.
… very low-key.
Hollis Johnson
And the modest Aston Martin badge from the front is perfectly echoed below the trunk line. What the DB9 reminds you is that the various elements that make up a car’s design are an industrial combination of sculpture, graphic arts, and something else: a tricky-to-capture third quality of equilibrium, with everything working in unison to stir the soul in ways that more arrogant riffs can’t. This design ethos was prevalent in the early 2000s, when the DB9 hit the scene. Over the course of more than a decade, it’s been left behind as high-performance cars have engaged in a sort of arms race of arrogance when it comes to their looks. The idea is to demand attention rather that earn it. The DB9 reminds us which is more satisfying.
I mean, wow.
I mean, wow.
Hollis Johnson
It really does blow you away with subtle magic. You can’t really call it provocative or bold. But it is glorious in execution. You could say that Jaguars are the most English of cars, but this Aston is what I think an automotive calling card from that island should be all about. Even that dash of stylish venting on the fender is well-placed. And study that quietly flexed rear haunch. The beltline is high, but it doesn’t make the roof seem chopped. And even the long hood doesn’t come off as as too long.

The details are clean, simple, and sinuous.
The details are clean, simple, and sinuous.
Hollis Johnson
Because the DB9’s design is over a decade old at this point, it’s mercifully exempt from many of the more extraneous styling flourishes that have beset the auto industry more recently. The headlights don’t lack drama, but they do lack a lot of fussy, jewel-like elements. Form follows function — and the function is to light the road ahead.

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