The Thermal Club |
How a Speeding Ticket Ignited a Passion for Aston Martin Cars
By A.J. Baime
Original Article: Wall Street Journal
Joe Clark of Seattle, co-founder and chairman of Aviation Partners (the maker of aerodynamic wing tips for Boeing aircraft), on his Aston Martins, as told to A.J. Baime.
When I was 16, my father made some money in the natural-gas business, and the first thing he did was buy a 1958 Aston Martin DB2/4 MkIII. A week later he was going out of town and he told me, “Don’t you dare drive that car.”
Of course, I did. I got pulled over for speeding and ended up in court. My dad was furious, but I was left with a lifelong passion for Aston Martins.
I now have five, including my father’s 1958 model. The two you see pictured here are the most extreme Aston Martin customer cars ever built.
The pearl-white car is a One-77. Only 77 were built, with no two exactly alike, and I took delivery of mine in 2015. My father’s old Aston put out around 160 horsepower. This car has a V12 capable of 750, with a 220-mph top speed. It has a placard saying “Hand Built for Joe Clark,” and we came up with a special color—Olympic white, named for the Olympic Mountains near where I live. No other car has this exact color.
A Ferrari may be beautiful, but this car has an unmatched elegance. You can look at it from any angle and it appears perfect, like a fine diamond.
The other car, which I took delivery of last year, is called Vulcan. It is a gentleman’s race car, built only for the track, and I have driven it on racetracks in the U.S. and Europe. The V12 has three modes: 550 horsepower, 675 and 820, and the first time I drove the car, I had to do about 30 laps with a professional race-car driver before I could switch out of the first mode. The power is that extreme, and the downforce from aerodynamics is so strong, the car can carry speeds of over 170 mph into turns.
I have been an aviation man all my life. This car feels more like fighter planes I have flown than an automobile.
Each of these cars cost over $2 million. I have been offered double that for them, but I bought them to drive, not to sell.