When all you can do is Astonish

Nuccio Bertone. Clever bloke. He ran a styling company from the end of the second world war until his death in 1997, and his name has been borne by some of the most iconic and exotic cars of all time – along with plenty at the absolute opposite end of the spectrum.
The car in these photos might not be one that you’re familiar with, though. I wasn’t, although it all came flooding back after I’d circled it a few times. You’re looking at ‘the Jet’, and underneath those vogueishly ’60s curves, there throbs an Aston Martin heart.

It was actually Giugiaro that penned this car. The young Italian was working under the auspices of Bertone at the time, and the Jet was just one of his many commissions. It was built at the turn of the ’60s, and made appearances at Italian motor shows during the early part of its life.
Aside from badges, there are few visual clues that a short-wheelbase Aston Martin DB4 lies beneath. The last DB4GT chassis built, no less. According to the accompanying display board, the custom steel bodywork is considerably heavier than the aluminum clothes a DB4 would usually wear. This would also presumably have unhappy consequences when it came to rust resistance.

After some years off the radar, the Bertone Jet was discovered by one Victor Gauntlet during his reign as Aston Martin chairman, and restored by the company’s workshops. Its provenance must appeal to somebody – it was sold at auction in 2013 for almost £3.25m.
Although there’s plenty that’s individual about the Jet, it also seems resolutely stuck to its era. There’s more than a passing hint of Bertone’s Alfa Romeo BAT cars of the ’50s. It also looks like it should be a good foot longer – the shortness of its wheelbase seems to have affected the doors more than anywhere else, and it looks a little abbreviated as a result. The rear three-quarter look is effortlessly flowing, though, while the inset honeycomb front grille is subtle yet menacing, and only reveals its signature Aston shape when viewed head on.

Whether it’s an overall improvement on the original, is debatable, but the Jet was certainly a great showcase for the craftsmanship and design creativity that Carrozzeria Bertone could provide. While it may have been just another project number in Bertone’s ledger, it was probably a far more significant project for the young Giorgetto Giugiaro.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)

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3 responses to “When all you can do is Astonish”

  1. David Peterson Avatar
    David Peterson

    Absolutely a first class example of the creativity humming in the auto industry of 1955-1970. The Dual Ghia is another example of the breed, as were the many one-off cars built for celebrity clients, like Rita Hayworth’s gift from Aly Khan. Of course, the fact that money was being made in boatloads by a successful launch emboldened many to swing for the fences. Many missed, including Mr. Bertone who despite his widely admired talent, wasn’t the best businessman. That doesn’t tarnish his legacy in any way, just shows the volatility of Italian car business in toto.

  2. tonyola Avatar

    Nice car, but it at least in profile, it looks like it was influenced by the Pininfarina-styled Ferrari 400 Superfast. Or may it was the other way around. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d0a448ee89c3c1b3ed58985b0418a83ecbc5e60b01cb06c5fea4f347884be03.jpg

  3. outback_ute Avatar

    I have to say I’d rather have a standard DB4GT! Especially with the steel body.
    The short wheelbase reminds me a bit of the Lamborghini Kamara, but also something I can’t quite remember.
    Nice title too Chris!