Rich Folks, One-Offs, and the Aston Martin Shooting Brake

Bertone Jet Front

Bertone Jet 2+2. Photos courtesy of Autoblog

In last week’s article about hypercars, Nicholas D’Amato explained why he believes many exist to inflate the egos of their buyers, who are more interested in the idea of owning something unique than exploring the physical limits of an engineering marvel. But what happens when a hypercar like the Ferrari Enzo, of which only 400 were produced, is simply too common? Just ask James Glickenhaus, who purchased the last unsold Enzo and shipped it off to legendary Italian design house Pininfarina for a complete makeover. The result is the Ferrari P4/5, a track-destroying monster of a car inspired by the famed 1967 Ferrari P3/4 race car, and one that cost $4 million to create. The one-off, then, is the ultimate manifestation of Hypercar Syndrome. Or is it?

Most one-offs are not built on the chassis of a hypercar donor, as the P4/5 is. A custom rework of an already insanely exclusive car (in the Enzo’s case, that averages out to 2 cars per country in the entire world) is excessive for even billionaires and titans of industry; most are based on more pedestrian supercars, like the Ferrari 458-based SP12 EC built by Ferrari for Eric Clapton. A commissioned one-off is merely the highest level of auto customization one can achieve, short of building a bespoke car from the ground up. Nothing wrong with that, as many people enthralled with car culture feel that models straight from the factory can be improved upon. After all, manufacturers can’t mass produce cars so derivative that they alienate consumers.

Manufacturers can, however, also create one-offs to show the expertise of their design staffs without having to pander to a wide audience. These cars are typically sold privately, like the 2005 Maybach Exelero, purchased in 2011 by rapper Birdman. Giugiaro’s 2006 Mustang is just one example of a one-off built by a design house to showcase its prowess.

Bertone Jet Back

So why all this talk about one-offs? The Bertone Jet 2+2 is an Aston Martin Rapide shooting brake, and it is the lust-worthy one-off de jour. The shooting brake as a concept is similar in theory to a hatchback or wagon, but a sleeker, sportier body profile necessitates a different word to distinguish itself from those more common cars. The Jet was built for an unidentified customer, who oversaw the production of the car from start to finish, and even chose the exterior color and interior upholstery; it also marks the 60th anniversary of Bertone’s relationship with Aston.

Bertone Jet Int

The Jet 2+2 is powered by the 476hp 6.0L V12 found in the Rapide, although it begs the question why the new 558hp unit in the 2013 Rapide S couldn’t be fitted in. The roofline is unchanged from the standard Rapide, meaning the back seat is for smaller or flexible occupants only. A Rolls Royce Phantom this is not. Like a two door Range Rover Evoque, the rear window is extremely raked and is saddled with a spoiler on top. Here’s to hoping the Jet has a rearview camera.

The Bertone Jet 2+2 is just the latest example of what happens when designers and engineers, uninhibited by cost or marketability constraints, are allowed to create a truly unique automobile. Look for the Jet to make its first public appearance at the Geneva Auto Show next month.

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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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