After an initial deal went sour, Aston Martin is still looking for a buyer for the complete production kit for its Vanquish. In order to help Aston find the £19 million (about $23.5 million) the deal was supposed to net, as well as a place to put the contents of its St. Athan plant before DBX production can begin, I have a plan.
When most models go out of serial production, the tooling is junked and the intellectual property lives out the rest of its life tucked away on a server somewhere. But Aston Martin is a small company and nothing can go to waste. £19 million does not seem like much in the scheme of automakers and Aston Martin has not been doing incredibly well since its October 2018 IPO. It needs the cash. Now.
But how do you turn a bunch of used tooling, some schematics, and 18 months of Aston Martin hand-holding into profit? The model is already there. Manufacturers in China have a history of buying exactly this sort of package, where tooling and IP are combined with a period of OEM support and giving a beloved model a brand new life in the People’s Republic.
In the 1990s, it was the Jeep XJ which was exactly the car Chinese consumers needed as the country became the industrialized superpower it is today. Beijing Jeep didn’t just start cranking out the XJ exactly as it had been built in Toledo, though. The XJ became the Qishi in China, its powertrain and styling getting little tweaks here and there to suit the needs of its new buyers. The Qishi stuck around until 2014, giving the XJ, a model that changed SUVs forever, a chance at one more career getting people on (and off) the road before it made it to the proverbial Farm Upstate.
Today, though, Chinese consumers need more than just a rugged 4x4. They have to have a way to show off their new wealth on the road. Steve Saleen might think he has the right approach, but there is no replacement for a classic like the Vanquish.
While the badge, styling, and powertrain might be the most distinctive parts about the Vanquish, Autoweek reports that the original buyer was looking to develop their own model off the platform on offer. While I’m sure that pretty much anything cooked up with Aston Martin ingredients is a likely success, I think an approach more like the Qishi is in order. Keep it simple, and just change what you absolutely have to.
Obviously the name won’t be able to stay. There will probably be a new real Vanquish, after all. So let’s say we’ll call it the Alton Mantis Vape-ish. And if we need to replace the powertrain, I think we could all find room for the new Mercedes mild hybrid I6 under the hood. The shape, though has gotta stay. Beijing Jeep only changed what absolutely had to on the Qishi to keep it fresh and current, so maybe a grille delete will be enough to give the Vape-ish what it needs to make it with the discerning Chinese buyer eager to drop some Renminbi on an upgrade from their Emgrand.
After all, finding a buyer that can put this together in China seems like much better business sense than my ideas for the Vanquish, which probably would involve a spec series (and not making good on that cash Aston needs).