David Brown Automotive's eminently laudable goal is to create a sports car that recalls classic 1960s design elegance with a modern driveline and modern reliability.
The Speedback will have hand-crafted aluminium bodywork, custom upholstery, wood veneers and interior trim, along with a slide-out, rear-facing outside bench seat that David Brown calls a work of “hidden genius”. We doubt many governing bodies will look favorably upon exterior seating, though actual certification in Europe will likely not be required, as it is not mandatory for other low-volume manufacturers, including Noble, Ariel, Ginetta and Morgan.
David Brown Automotive's eminently laudable goal is to create a sports car that recalls classic 1960s design elegance with a modern driveline and modern reliability. To that end, the Speedback will use Jaguar XKR running gear, complete with its 510-hp supercharged V8, six-speed automatic transmission and major interior components, though the XK series will be discontinued this summer. No special development work or changes are planned for the XKR chassis or suspension.
There is no factory for the Speedback yet, but David Brown Automotive hopes that Envisage Group, the Coventry-based company handling prototype construction, will carry out fabrication and assembly of the estimated 20 to 200 production cars. (Envisage already does concept and prototype work for Jaguar, Aston Martin and Bentley.) According to a spokesperson at Envisage, taking the XKR apart and refitting Speedback components, bodywork and trim has been an extraordinarily complex operation, but results so far are "stunning."
Stylist Alan Mobberley, who began his career at Humber (remember that name?) and more recently worked for Land Rover (the first Discovery was rumoured to be his) designed the Speedback from a very DB5ish template. Since that Aston was a Carrozzeria Touring design, the Speedback echoes other late-'50s to early-'60s Italians of the period. It strongly resembles the Ferrari 250 GT, the Maserati 3500, and, with its small chrome bumpers, the 1953-'54 Chevrolet Corvette.
"I am delighted to have had the opportunity to reintroduce the iconic shapes of the Sixties into an entirely new and contemporary package," said Brown in a statement. "To have been able to do this without compromising on any aspects of the development is a dream come true." Slightly self-congratulatory for the owner of a car company with a prototype still under construction, no sales stated and strong leveraging of a provenance in name only.
David Brown's existing business is centred around a London-based stone-finishing company that supplies design expertise and materials for high-end home renovations, a microbrewery and a heavy truck and earthmover company he sold to Caterpillar.
DBA plans to show the Speedback at the Top Marques Show in Monte Carlo in May, to which the company said customers from around the world flock in order to see rare cars and, presumably, to place orders for them. Speedback availability in the US and Asia has not yet been announced.