Aston Martin's Sapphire Crystal Key Was The Stupidest Thing Ever And If You Bought One You're Too Stupid To Use Money

Full disclosure: I don’t think Aston Martin even uses these keys on new cars anymore. They were introduced around 2008, years before I said dumb things about cars for a living, but I don’t see that as a reason to let this go.

This still needs to be said: that sapphire crystal key thing that Aston Martin was using for a key is, was and always will be absolutely idiotic. Everyone thought they were so cool, but they’re all wrong, and if you bought one, you’re using money wrong.


In case you’re not familiar with this thing, it’s a key fob for Aston Martins— DB9s, DBSes, and other models used them, until quite recently, and Aston Martin has a dumb, marketing/PR dipshit name for these: Emotional Control Unit.


Here’s a video comparing the new key to the old (via clips from two different cars shows) that we put in a deeply misguided story that suggested this was one of the coolest car keys:

You know how Tiff Needell (who I think is great, don’t get me wrong) there seems thrilled that the key also “becomes the start button?” That’s pretty much every goddamn physical key, Tiff. You put the shitty metal key in the ignition of my ’73 Beetle and you know what? It becomes a start button when you turn it, just a little. That shouldn’t impress you.


What should impress you about this key is that it was a roughly $2000 (often quoted as more) option when you bought your new Aston Martin. I called a Los Angeles-area dealer to get an idea of how much a replacement key would be (just the key, without any of the charge for flashing it to make it work with the car or anything) and they quoted me a price of $1,126.04.

For a fucking key. You could buy this entire, running 1984 Chevy Caprice Classic for less money than that stupid key.


I guess the key looks cool, and I’m all for having car keys that look unique and fun and novel, but if you’re paying one or two grand for your goddamn key just so you can make the valet feel a little worse about his shitty life, then you have brain problems.


You could have something that looked 90% the same made out of plastic instead of stupid sapphire crystal. That crystal, which is supposed to be scratch resistant or whatever, clearly isn’t, because the internet is filled with dummies who paid way, way too much on a fucking key now too afraid to use their stupid crystal bigshot dashboard ass-plug keys.

Some people who are too afraid to break their precious keys but still not happy with how miserably common the valet key looks have taken to arts-and-crafts projects so they can use the cheap key but still make it look sort of fancy enough for the discriminating Aston Martin owner who happens to be too chickenshit to use their really fancy key.


There’s also companies that specialize in charging you an assload—but a smaller assload than the assload you’d pay to replace the key—to repair chipped or cracked crystal keys.

These people have problems. But the real problem is that stupid key.

If you’ve made a showoff key that’s too fragile to actually use and too expensive to even risk trying to use, then what’s the fucking point? Your car key should be something you can drop on concrete, pick it back up, and never think about it again. You shouldn’t have to potentially pay the same as a new laptop to fix a key you accidentally dropped.


People who want these keys should just have their current bank balance (or their current perceived bank balance) printed on business cards every week and just hand them out to everyone they encounter. It’ll do the same job more effectively and is a much better use of their money.

And to guys like this who think this key fob is so amazing:

...maybe instead spend your money on taking your Aston in for the regular service it keeps asking for.


Stupid key.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)