Sexualized Cars

Sexualized Cars: Aston Martin Vanquish

Like its powerful V12, the Aston Martin Vanquish's sexy styling is one of its most defining elements.

Officially, the Aston Martin Vanquish was given its name because it was intended to "vanquish" the competition, specifically from Ferrari. But didn’t that always sound a bit corny to you? The more likely explanation is that "vanquish" was one of those Victorian euphemisms for sex, the sort still favored by the writers of horrible "romance" novels. Moreover, it’s probably the closest a car has ever come to having a name which relates directly to sex.

When Ford took over Aston Martin in 1994, the company was just barely hanging on. It was mostly in desperate need of new products, and following an expansion of the DB7 line, the Vanquish became the first all-new model built under Ford management in 2001. The Vanquish replaced the Virage line, which ended with the Vantage and Le Mans variants of the car. This particular incarnation of the Virage was introduced in 1989 and, to be honest, wasn’t one of AM’s best cars to begin with. So although any car originally from 1989 would have been lagging behind in the high-end GT market by 2000, the Vantage was seriously obsolete.

So the Vanquish was a big deal when it debuted, and was seen as the long-awaited return of an Aston Martin with enough development money to produce proper cars. Further excitement was generated by an appearance in 2002’s Bond film "Die Another Day". And despite this being such a breathtakingly awful movie that the franchise needed a reboot afterward, the car still managed to be a shining star of the film, even alongside Halle Berry in a bikini. The sex element has obviously always been very evident in Bond films, but with Aston Martin, as with other cars, sex is a more subtle theme.

Yet it is still definitely present, particularly in Aston’s designs of late. Hugh Grant, a former Vanquish owner, once said of it in an interview with Top Gear that "you want to lick it, or mate with it, or something". The bulging rear fenders do create a certain hip-like effect, and there is a feminine quality to the grace of the car’s curves. But a coke bottle has curves, and our feelings towards these rarely need to be euphemized. There is something more to the car, and an Aston in particular. For one, a Vanquish can also sing beautifully, thanks to its V12 engine. In the original car, this 5.9-liter unit produced 450 horsepower.

But the original car began being phased out in favor of the more powerful (514-horsepower) Vanquish S as early as 2004, with production of the regular Vanquish ending in 2005. With the sales of Aston Martin and the closing of the Newport Pagnell factory, the whole Vanquish line was ended in 2007. This was seen as a shame at the time, but with the economic crisis which came shortly thereafter, cutting back the lineup actually turned out to have been a good move. There is now a new Vanquish for 2013, and this is every bit as deserving of the name, not to mention the name’s sexual undertones.

The literature stops short of describing anything as "heaving", but that same barely-concealed sexualizing of the car is still very much present. It’s something we think of as being more closely associated with Italian automotive design, but half of the cars in this series are British, and this entry is perhaps the most sexualized car currently available for sale. It’s maybe a difficult call to make, as supercars are rarely unsexy, but the Vanquish has that little bit extra, and it's more than just in the name.

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