The 2009 DB9 Volante (convertible) tops $200,000 after options. The link to James Bond is standard.
Ford bought an 87 percent stake in Aston in 1987, raised it to 100 percent in 1994 and sold it to a consortium of investment houses in 2007 to fund its survival.
A lot of financial wrangling for a work of art. Each piece fits neatly and solidly in place. It moves swiftly thanks to the 6-liter, 470-horsepower V-12 that responds to pedal pressure as if tuned by a symphony conductor. The zero-to 60-m.p.h. boast is less than 4.8 seconds. It delivers while hugging the road.
But the 12 m.p.g. city/19 m.p.g. highway rating brings a $2,100 federal gas-guzzler tax. Fun isn't cheap.
And no hybrid, no plug-in and no diesel. No matter. Top up or down, the DB9 shouts, "Hey, look at me."
But there are a few nagging annoyances, such as the minuscule trunk. Holds barely a duffel bag to leave room for the hardtop convertible -- and the umbrella along the wall.
The DB9 is a 2 plus 2, but missing in back is what's commonly called legroom; the backs of the front seats touch the fronts of the back seats. Use those rear seats for a second duffel or umbrella.
So little storage room, yet Aston Martin put ashtray/lighter in the center console. At $220 for the "smoker's kit," maybe it was the treasurer's idea.
Nice touches include a glove-box light to see inside it at night, push-button gear selection and a crystal fob in place of the traditional ignition key. The look is elegant, the weight in the pocket anchor-like. A navi screen pops out of the dash top for the directionally challenged, but it's neither large nor easy to decipher.
For $200,000, the rear window should be larger than a slit, sun visors bigger than butter knives and driver-seat bladder-inflater control buttons in sight and within reach, not to the right and slightly under the driver's butt. Try going for that without attracting a lot of attention.
The DB9 starts at $197,850. With a few non-essential options, plus guzzler tax and freight, it topped $208,000.
But that's a bargain compared with the $380,000 base price on the 2009.5 Rolls-Royce Phantom we piloted at a Midwest Automotive Media Association rally at Elkhart Lake, Wis. -- on the road, not the track.
The 6.75-liter, 453-h.p. V-12 is potent and impressive and so silent that we committed the cardinal sin of trying to restart an idling car. Even the 11 m.p.g. city/18 m.p.g. highway rating and $3,000 gas-guzzler tax don't detract from the allure of a machine that comes with a cashmere-blend headliner and cabin covered in bull leather "to avoid stretch marks," as Rolls spokesman Wayne Kung pointed out.
The bulls even are raised in a region of Europe where the climate is too cool for mosquitoes, so no bite marks pock the hides. Animal-rights activists can order the vegan edition.
What impressed us most, however, is that Rolls has responded to vandals who rip off the Flying Lady hood ornament. The Lady now retracts into a locking compartment in the hood if some mope tries to nap her. Talk about the Spirit of Ecstasy.
British motor cars call the hood the bonnet and trunk the boot, but the Phantom goes one better, referring to the strap over the door that eases entry and exit as the Duchess sling. No grab-handles here.
No cupholders, either. Goblet holders ($5,460), thank you, for the stash in the champagne cooler ($6,025) between the rear lounge seats ($12,550).
And, yes, an umbrella, but in a slot in the rear passenger door rather than in the trunk.
With options, guzzler tax and freight, the sticker tops $450,700. But if you settle for the standard fold-down table tops for the back seat, you can skip the goblet holders and pocket the $5,460.
Read Jim Mateja Sunday in Rides. Contact him at email@example.com.
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