Keeping It In The Family With An Aston Martin DB11 And DB4 Convertible In England
Photography by George Colbeanu
The fog is thick and heavy in the valleys of Portsmouth as I head over to Chichester to pick up the keys to a DB11 V8 from Aston Martin. I woke up before the sun did to make the drive from London, but a cup of coffee becomes just a vestigial habit on days like this, and a few minutes later I’m feeling properly awake in the front seat of the svelte sports car. The hood stretches out in front of me like the prow of a Riva, the rear fenders fill the mirrors, and after I adjust from my daily driver’s cockpit to the definitively more luxurious interior of the Aston I get ready for the second, albeit shorter, road trip of the day. Before I head over to the Girardo & Co. headquarters to meet an older branch of this modern GT’s family tree, I make sure not to rush through the giddiness of anticipation in favor of the destination.
Foot on the brake, push the ignition button, gain access to more than 500 horsepower. Not a bad start. Ahead is a 100-mile jaunt over to Oxford, where I’m to meet the lovely chaps at Girardo & Co. and the DB4 they’ve kindly wheeled out. First, a choice to make; leave the DB11 in GT mode or spin it over to “Sport+”? The roads of Kent and Cornwall on the way are winding, but even on a straight motorway blast it’s an easy decision.
The DB11 doesn’t let you forget its size when parking or navigating narrower fare—this thing has a footprint—but like all good modern performance cars, it manages to hide its proportions and weight incredibly well, handling with a surprising nimbleness but an even more surprising degree of connectedness. I won’t pretend that “every pebble is translated through the steering wheel,” but it allows for more communication between driver and road than you’d expect while looking at the array of tech and leather in the cabin.
I arrive a few minutes past noon, and I am greeted by a DB4 Superleggera looking serenely beautiful at the entrance to the compound. Finished in a blue-on-blue scheme, this thing is pure class. The DB11 has its own type of elegance, but the DB4 is just faultless in this regard. They are related of course, but these are two very different machines in front of me. A brand new, AMG-powered DB11 with enough horses to effortlessly ride cross country at speed, and a sublime convertible perfect for a leisurely cruise around Sloane Square on a summer evening—one could think of a worse pair of modern and classic.
The DB4 is a bald statement of luxurious design of the 1960s, and this example is also the desirable late-production variant, part of the fifth series. There were only five such series of the DB4, with the most visible hallmarks being the addition of window frames in Series II, taillights consisting of three small lamps mounted on a chrome backing plate on the Series IIIs, and the adoption of a barred (rather than egg crate-style) grille on the Series IVs. The Series V DB4 introduced a taller and longer body to provide more interior space, though the diameter of the wheels was reduced to keep the overall height the same, while the front ends of the Series V cars were often of the more aerodynamic style already used on the Vantage and GT models, which was later carried over to the DB5.
But getting bogged down in the minutiae is what forums are for, and it’s not like I’d have turned my camera away from a different version. We didn’t add many spirited miles to the DB4 on the day of the shoot, but after spending a few hours in the DB11—and with a few more still waiting for me on the return journey—I wasn’t going to pout about that. A morning that involves test driving a sports car and then shooting a few portraits with its pretty sister isn’t a bad one, and I’d dare say it was actually quite a fun day at “work.”