The latest Aston Martin Continuation is so rare you need to buy two

They're brand new, cost millions of dollars and look half a century old, but you can't register the latest Aston Martins in Australia.

Not that it will slow 19 people from splashing out £6 million plus taxes – about $16 million in Australia – for the latest newcomers from Aston Martin.

The latest in its Continuation models – as the name suggests, it continues an original production run – is the DB4 GT Zagato and DBS GT Zagato.

They can only be bought as a pair, with the DB4 available late this year and the DBS late in 2020.

Big Bond business

Such recreations are now a decent chunk of Aston Martin's business, something that led to the fabulous James Bond DB5 Continuation.

It all started a few years ago with the DB4 GT Continuation (not to be confused with the just-announced Zagato models).

When it was created in 1959 there were plans to produce 100 but just 75 made it off the UK production line at Newport Pagnell.

The ultimate recreation

Not good enough for the current executives at Aston Martin.

Paul Spires is the managing director of Aston Martin Works, a division of the company dedicated to servicing and maintaining many of the 90,000-odd cars on roads around the world.


One of its main services is a complete restoration, something that takes up to two years and costs £425,000 ($750,000); Spires says it always adds more than that to the value of the car.

But in 2016 Spires thought it would make sense to complete that original DB4 GT production plan, something that was announced late that year.

Take my money

Deposits were put down on the cars and demand has been hot. Spires says they could have built more than 50.

Of the original 75 DB4 GTs all still exist in various states, with good examples commanding millions of dollars at auction.

Those original ones can be registered and driven on public roads, although many are reserved for historic racing or special occasions.

New, but only for the track

The new GTs cost £1.5 million, about $2.7 million in our money.

By the time the two unnamed Australian owners pay GST they will be somewhere around $3 million, depending on the exchange rate.

However, the new cars cannot be registered or driven on public roads.

That's because they don't meet the latest standards for things such as emissions and safety.

So those lucky few splashing out millions are limited to driving them on private roads or race tracks.

Stick shift

Aston Martin sponsors the Red Bull Formula 1 team, something that prompted Spires to extend an invitation to driver Max Verstappen.

"We had some guys here from Red Bull (F1) … and I said, 'it would be absolutely epic to get Max Verstappen in this car'."

However, he was informed Verstappen may not be able to drive the car – not because he doesn't want to, but because at the time he hadn't driven a manual.

"He said 'he doesn't know how to drive a manual'."

Spires says various race drivers have driven the DB4 GT Continuation and all have loved the experience.

"Even some of the modern racing drivers who don't do historics - actually don't like old cars - who've driven this car and said 'bloody hell…'."

Everything old is new again

The project started by digging up the original technical drawings and details – about 500 of them – as well as scanning original cars and components.

It was a monumental task.

"This car has fought us every which way, it's been unbelievably difficult," he says, pointing to components such as the doorhandles, which required Aston to "reactivate the supplier" of the original component.

"This is five times harder than doing a modern car."

The manufacturer of the badge, too, is the same one that created the 1959 original. Even the Superleggera badges on the bonnet required discussions with the original Italian styling house that designed the vehicle.

"There was an agreement with Aston Martin whereby we'd pay a [£7.50] royalty per car," says Spires. "I got together with their MD, Piero Mancardi, in Milan and we agreed between us that we would re-instigate that [original] agreement."

By the time they're complete, each car will have consumed some 4500 man-hours.

Authenticity crucial

While there was a temptation to improve elements of the car – electronics and brakes, for example – Spires was adamant it was to remain faithful to the original wherever possible.

The only changes were replacing things such as asbestos gaskets with modern ones using new materials.

The seats, too, have a frame made of carbon fibre, something Spires says gives the car the same level of safety "you would get in a current FIA spec race car".

And the cellulose paint – since outlawed – has been replaced with water-based finish, claimed to last much longer.

"We've tried to be as true to the original as we can," says Spires.

Better production processes naturally led to other improvements, including to cooling of the 4.2-litre six-cylinder engine (it produces 345hp, or 257kW); modern CT scanning meant the metal could be better crafted to the mould.

Aston Martin not alone

The idea of recreating an old car is not exclusive to Aston Martin.

Last year Jaguar announced it would build 25 modern versions of the legendary D-Type.

It comes after a successful recreation of the lightweight E-Type a few years ago and, more recently, the XKSS.

It's all about playing to a brand's strengths and heritage and capitalising on the immense demand for classic cars.