What's it like to drive a £620,000 limited edition DBA Speedback Silverstone?
And does it have anything to do with James Bond?
Shahzad Sheikh – AKA Brown Car Guy – is an automotive journalist with three decades of experience on titles including the Middle East edition of CAR Magazine and Used Car Buyer.
On your first anniversary of moving into a new home, you might want to mark it by getting one of the novelty door mats that reads 'come in' from one side and 'go away' from the other. Those doorstep goodbyes will stretch out endlessly with such hilarity at your feet.
Or you could dust off that magnificent new never-used tool box and finally get around to still not fixing that leaky tap. Alternatively, whilst you're sitting there drenched and waiting for a real plumber to arrive, why not create an entire car to commemorate the occasion.
Well the last of those is what David Brown Automotive did, a year after moving into its new home right opposite the fabled Silverstone Race Circuit.
The David Brown Automotive Speedback Silverstone is a limited edition of a limited edition - that being the Speedback GT. The Speedback GT was born around five years ago from a desire to have a very exclusive and expensive way to cover miles in classic style but contemporary ease. DBA will only make 100 of those.
For the Silverstone iteration, the car has had a slight nip and tuck, several sessions with an unrelenting personal trainer and a makeover by a stylist with a penchant for sexy black on black. There will only ever be 10 of these. And I've driven one! Here's what I learned...
1. It's not what you think it is
I ran a poll on my Instastories recently (please follow me: #BrownCarGuy) asking what people thought this car was based on - most clicked on the Aston Martin DB9 option. Wrong! Underneath those butch and beefy British lines sits the skeleton of a Jaguar XKR Convertible – why the convertible? Because of the extra stiffening in the platform – further enhanced for the Speedback by industrial strength braces supporting the roof.
Given the name of the founder who is not related in any way to David Brown of Aston Martin, it's hardly surprising everyone assumes the car is meant to look like a reinterpretation of James Bond's favourite classic the DB5. Okay it does. But it's not meant to. It's claimed to be a greatest hits medley of 60s sports cars, also drawing inspiration from the Ferrari 250 for its fuselage, the Jaguar E-Type for its pretty eyes, and the Maserati 3500 for its gaping mouth.
The Silverstone is shorn of bumpers, fitted with modern-looking 20-inch 'Afterburner' alloy wheels, sports a black honeycomb grille with embedded LED driving lamps, side skirts and 'Fly By Night' paint with a too-subtle 'Black Night' racing stripe. Stare hard or you won't see it.
2. It doesn't drive how it looks either
Again, you're thinking lardy, cumbersome and agricultural. Nope. It's effortless, nimble, easy to place, light on its feet and the ride is splendid. It's not quite as eager and fiesty as an XKR, but it's not slow either – the Jaguar 5.0 twin-scroll supercharged V8 has been pumped with steroids to raise power output from 510bhp to 601bhp for the Silverstone. 0-60mph is in 4.2 seconds.
It's still more a fast GT than a sportscar, and could do with meatier and more meaningful steering as well as stronger brakes, particularly if you actually intend to take it onto the circuit, but overall it's a satisfying, enjoyable and above all, memorable drive.
3. It costs an absolute fortune
If the regular Speedback GT's price will make you gulp with its £520,000 price tag, the Silverstone is a shocker at £620,000 – before tax! Well, we are talking the rarefied world of coachbuilt cars. It takes 8,000 hours to make, the body is hand rolled aluminium, and the paint finish alone is 800 hours with up to 24 layers. There's a lot of detail work, both visible and invisible, each part is laboured over with much deliberation and anguish, some are 3D printed on site. I've seen the factory, they're not rushing these out the door, they're being made to last generations.
4. It has unpronounceable interior trim
It's only when you sink into that opulent cabin that you'll see the XK connection, because the dashboard architecture, controls and electronics are retained. But everything is re-trimmed.
The Silverstone features open-pore scorched Ebony Macassar wood veneer, Kvadrat fabric, jet-inspired vents, brushed aluminium everywhere and aged tan leather upholstery with intricate broguing embossed with 'Silverstone' circuit logos. The cockpit is a sumptuous work of art.
5. There's a secret seat in the boot
When you're next viewing a polo match and notice a Rolls-Royce Cullinan with people sat on the viewing seat (as you would if were the sort of person buying a Speedback) back up alongside and surprise the heck out of them by pulling out your own secret rear boot seat.
Then go one further by opening the hidden compartment housing your Hasselblad camera and £15,000 Zeiss lens. And finally drop into casual convo that your Speedback Silverstone is twice the price of the Cullinan.
Ah it would almost be worth it!