By Stephen Archer and Simon Harries
Palawan, £395. No ISBN listing
The extraordinary thing about Palawan’s output is no longer their magnificence, to which we are becoming acclimatised, but their profusion. Only months ago we had the Klemantaski autobiography, and LJK Setright’s Bristol hook is already in the pitlane warming up. Here we have a dissertation of remarkable breadth on Zagato-bodied DB4 Aston Martins, with a typically provocative Setright foreword saying “It was not, I suspect, a very good car at all”. Since these cars are now virtually national treasures, one raises an eyebrow to see LJKS applying words like “clumsy and inept”, “gross inaccuracies” and “frightful bodges” to Zagato’s bodywork. But we knew that really, and the cars are still wonderful to look on.
If the core of this book is the complete illustrated histories of all 20 DB4 Zagatos, the context, mechanical and social, is delivered in full. Parallel histories of Aston and Zagato, previous Italian collaborations, much detail on the DB4 including the Project cars, and the complete Zagato racing story is rounded off with reference to Sanction II and V8 Zagatos. Many quotes from people involved show that the scholarship matches the presentation, and the square format shows recent and period photos to advantage. Our copy was the least lavish of three versions, bound in silver cloth and protected by a perspex slip cover, but there are still a couple of the top-spec ones left, at £2,500. Appropriate, really; the last couple of Zagatos went unsold for months too.