DB AR1 Description
Chassis 800001 – 800100
In production, Autumn/Winter 2003
The idea behind the DB AR1 (American Roadster 1) was born at the time of the launch of the DB7 Zagato in order to offer an open alternative to the coupe. The prototype was created in just 6 months based on the 2002MY DB7 Vantage Volante launch car, 401864 and initially shown to potential clients in Los Angeles just prior to the public unveiling at the LA Auto Show in early January 2003. Before the show had closed, sufficient orders for the car had been taken and production was guaranteed. Following the show, the prototype car became the star of the ‘Power, Beauty and Soul’ Tour visiting 30 North American cites in seven weeks between May and June.
Whilst the styling was clearly based on the shortened Zagato coupe, the wheel base remained the same as the standard Vantage and the overall length only 9mm shorter. By keeping dimensions faithful to the Vantage Volante, no further crash testing was necessary, helping to keep development costs and time as low and short as possible. Whilst the DB AR1 carries ‘Z’ badges and followed the same production journey as the coupe, the car was never marketed as a Zagato; also it is the only DB7 variant not to have ‘DB7’ in the name. As the car was only intended for the North American market, it was not felt necessary to provide a roof of any kind. However some cars have been subsequently modified with rudimentary mohair fabric hoods so that they can be used with more confidence in a changeable climate. Despite the additional length over the Zagato coupe, the DB AR1 remained a 2 seater with an extensive parcel shelf divided by a body coloured spine extending forwards from the ‘double bubble’ rear deck. It is interesting that this shape of rear deck was adapted for the 2007 V8 Vantage Roadster. Whilst the Zagato coupe had a drop down boot panel, the DB AR1 had a more conventional lift up lid.
The car was available with a choice either the standard (AM2/) or ‘GT’ spec (AM2A/) V12 depending on whether the car was supplied with automatic or manual transmission. Running gear and brakes were based on those already being used on the DB7 GT as was the active sports exhaust system similar to that on the Vanquish.
The production cars remained faithful to the prototype, the changes limited to the wheels used on the Zagato coupe with slimmer spokes and the windscreen pillars changing from black to body coloured on almost all cars.
Although the initial plan was to make the DB AR1 only for the US market, nine cars stayed in continental Europe. All examples were built LHD with the exception of 800061 which was ordered by a British customer and 800100, the first completed car and retained by the factory. Strangely, for a car aimed at North America, only 20 cars were delivered with the automatic (or touchtronic) transmission, the remaining 80 being manual