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2006 Aston-Martin Rapide Concept
By James Riswick

Click for detail photo. Even if the Aston Martin Rapide never enters production, at least it can live in concept car retirement knowing it is the best-looking four-door sedan ever to grace this fine planet. With an extra set of doors and seats sandwiched in between the front end of a DB9 and the hind quarters of a V8 Vantage, the Rapide is just as exquisite as its sports car brethren.

Introduced at the Detroit Auto Show to much jaw-dropped fan fare, the Rapide could represent the further expansion of the Aston Martin line. Once left for dead by its parent companies and surviving only on the memories of its illustrious Bond past, Aston Martin has resurrected itself under Ford’s ownership. With the introduction of the sub-$100,000 Vantage and the success of the DB9, business has never been so booming – even at the height of its “Goldfinger” fame. The Rapide could theoretically boost Aston’s stock even higher by entering a new niche – and at an estimated £175,000, what a niche indeed.

The Rapide concept is powered by a 480-horsepower version of the DB9’s V12 and uses a stretched version of the same aluminum structure found in the DB9 and Vantage. The interior is much the same as those two cars with the usual concept car extravagances – in this case blue sharkskin door trim and a Jaeger-LeCoultre clock.

Despite being almost a foot longer than the DB9, the Rapide maintains much of that spectacular car’s beauty. In fact, so similar are the two cars that the Rapide was designed in a mere seven weeks. Why mess with such a universally loved look?

Unfortunately, Aston Martin has a very poor history when it comes to four-door vehicles. The original 1961-64 Lagonda Rapide was based on the DB4, had an Edsel-like grille and sold a whopping 55 copies. From 1976 to 1989, the Aston Martin Lagonda featured ugly squared-off styling, poor digital instrumentation and subsequently sold as quickly as pickled squid. Sure it was rare, but it was also Rolls-Royce expensive and about as reliable as a car made in Bangladesh.

The new Rapide could be different, though. Ford-owned Aston is in a position to improve reliability and the got-to-have-it factor for Aston-Martins has never been higher. Besides, unlike past four-door Astons, this thing is drop-dead gorgeous. The Rapide’s got another thing going for it. If Mr. Bond should ever decide to start a family, the Aston Martin Rapide will almost certainly be his top choice.

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Pictures of the Aston-Martin Rapide Concept
Click pictures to enlarge

Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo. Click for detail photo.
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Posted March 8, 2006
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