Style / October 2016

Doubly Brilliant DB's: Aston Martin x De Bethune

The Aston Martin DB4 and the De Bethune DB28T have more in common than just a set of initials – both are examples of highly technical machines presented as works…

For self-described “modern-day alchemists” De Bethune: “Each development is governed by a constant quest for aesthetic excellence, subtly interacting with the pursuit of high technical standards.” It is this guiding principle that resulted in the DB28T, the rather delicious watch pictured here. But it could just as easily have been the mission statement of the people designing the bigger piece of gleaming metal, the era- defining sports car that was born half a century earlier: the Aston Martin DB4. The car takes its DB initials from David Brown, the industrialist who bought Aston Martin after the war and ran it until 1972, the longest period of continuous ownership in the company’s often- turbulent 100-year history. The firm was founded in 1913 with the sole aim of making cars go faster in order to win races. This it did very well, but neither the initial owners, nor the subsequent pre-war heads of the company, really cared much for the business of selling cars. The founders struggled to make money, as they saw commerce as a necessary evil rather than a core part of the business. The company changed hands a couple of times before the Second World War, with race wins continuing to come, but sales failed to fill the coffers. Then along came Brown, who realised that worth cannot be measured by chequered flags alone. He bought the company because of its racing history, one that he built upon in the 1950s, Astons winning the World Sportscar Championship with Stirling Moss at the wheel, and the Le Mans 24-Hours with Carroll Shelby at the helm. Brown also understood that while speed wins races, style wins hearts. He started making road cars that had the looks to go with the performance, cars that would make the Aston Martin name known for beauty as well as brawn. Such is the respect for his name at the company that to this day – more than 40 years since he sold the business and 20-plus years after his death – his initials are still used, right up to the DB11.

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Richard Holt