Concept Debrief – 2006 Aston Martin Rapide – Murdered by Lehman Brothers?

2006 Aston Martin Rapide ConceptReviewing this 2006 Aston Martin Rapide concept, it is almost unreal how closely the eventual 2010 production car is to its original inspiration. As you may know, the Rapide has been a major drain on Aston’s resources since sales of the four-door are only a quarter of originally anticipated.

In its debut, the Rapide created a huge volume of excitement in the enthusiast community. It seemed at the time like a perfect sports-sedan with all the coolness of an Aston and a back seat and trunk that were truly practical.

This excitement led to hundreds of eager deposit-makers — people who wanted the car in their fleet immediately.

But production engineering was not a walk in the park. Shifting the DB9’s alloy frame to a hatchback from a trunk setup required some intensive engineering and major new parts for a big part of the tail section. In addition, the Rapide’s price crept up dramatically higher than expected over these three years before the first car was delivered. From a mooted $150,000, the Rapide would eventually cost more than twice that total.

Over the same time period, the wealthiest people in the world were taking an unprecedented hit in their net worth. The global economic meltdown kicked off with Bear Sterns closing its doors, then snowballed violently into the failure of Lehman Brothers.

Since 1980, these two brokerage houses were among the top five global asset holders worldwide. Their dramatic insolvency made this recession different from all others: it directly hit the on-paper value of the one percent.

So when the Rapide did materialize looking nearly identical to this concept, it found only a slim fraction of originally-interested shoppers able to afford it. [A V8 engine and a big price cut might have helped, and still would.]

To make matters worse, Aston planned BIG volume via a new production line in Austria at Magna Steyr. They had slaved over the production process and poured major money into the model.

All while being sold off by Ford and finding the new owners.

The Rapide, then, had a conflicted birth.

But unlike most concept-to-reality transitions, the Rapide production car is 100-percent faithful to the original vision shown here. Even in the best of times, a four-door costing $300,000 is a tough sell.

Overall, though, it was too late and too expensive to deliver on the initial excitement — arriving in a world far different from the one of just three years before.

2006 Aston Martin Rapide Concept