I'm a big fan of supercars and luxury cars that are finished in rare and interesting colors, so when I saw that the Aston Martin dealership in Newport Beach, California commissioned a five-car collection finished in never before used pastel colors, I had to get the full story. So last week, I hopped on the phone with Matthew Parsons, the dealer's sales manager and the brainchild behind the collection, to find out more about these unique Astons.
"We pride ourselves on doing things no one else does," Parsons said. He's worked closely with Aston's Q division on a number of other special cars commissioned for the Newport dealer. "When you sell and order a lot of cars you can mix in some more vibrant and out-there specs than dealers that sell fewer cars, as they have to be safer." And it doesn't get more vibrant and out there than these.
Aptly named the Pastel Collection, these five cars were originally conceived for last year's Monterey Car Week, but that event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then the factory shut down for six months. The cars finally arrived last month, just in time for Easter and the start of spring, and they are glorious. The collection consists of a DBX, two DB11s (one coupe and one Volante convertible) and two Vantages (also one coupe and one Roadster). The DBX is finished in an incredible blush pink called Vibrant Coral, the DB11s get teal hues called Butterfly Teal and Clear Water, and the Vantages purple shades are named Ultraviolet Purple and Cardamom Violet. The convertibles get the softer colors while the coupes have the more impactful bright paints, and all five colors have the same amount of metallic flake -- in some light they can look flat and glossy, but sunlight shows off the intense sparkling pearl effect.
All five cars have a matching interior finished in Ivory and Obsidian Black leather, and each one has painted interior trim on the door panels and center console that matches the exterior color. (The DB11 convertible also has color-matched seatbacks.) All five cars also have gloss-black exterior trim, contrasting interior stitching and clear taillight lenses. "We wanted unifying elements between of all them so they look like a set, but would work on their own," Parsons said. The DB11s also use a wheel design that was only offered in 2019 but that the factory reissued just for these cars.
I recently drove down to Newport to check out the cars at the dealer, and while the DBX wasn't there -- the owner of the dealership was parading it around the LA area -- the other four were on display. Even under the showroom lighting the colors look incredible, and they really stand out amongst the sea of cars in greyscale colors and more muted greens and blues. My favorite is probably the Ultraviolet Purple Vantage coupe -- if I had to choose a word to describe that color, it would be "luscious."
The collection was unveiled at a party at the dealership a couple weeks ago, complete with matching flower arrangements, ice cream and candy. Because these colors were never used before, Parsons says the dealership didn't want to do any advance marketing beyond a teaser poster for invitations, instead wanting the cars to be a surprise that would organically build hype through social media and word of mouth. "The dream is to have people at the unveiling want to immediately buy them," he said. As of right now, all five of the pastel cars are still available to purchase, and the prices aren't any crazier than equivalent models in other special-order colors would be. The DBX is the one that's gotten the most attention, and that's not a surprise as demand for Aston's first SUV is massive.
Parsons takes pride in the dealership's wall of paint samples, which is the largest collection of samples outside the factory. He learned how to order samples of discontinued colors, colors from other brands and even paints that were commissioned by specific customers, like a hot pink called Kenchan Pink that was invented for a Japanese owner's Zagato Shooting Brake. The wall also contains tons of samples for leather and Alcantara upholstery, different interior trims like wood and carbon fiber and dozens of different stitching thread colors.
While there are some customers that come in and special-order cars themselves, Parsons loves ordering interesting specs for the dealer's own inventory. "You're not gonna sell it if you don't order it," he said. "No one will just order from a paint sample on the wall, people are too scared of the craziness." But when a customer can see a car in a wild color in real life for themselves, or even just on Instagram, they're more likely to be swayed into considering something they never would have before. "My goal in ordering is to be different but not weird. We want the reaction to be 'Hmm!' not 'Hmm...'"
Last year the Newport Beach dealer ordered a pair of DBS' in an absurd color-shifting Spectral Blue paint that changes from purple and teal to green and yellow depending on the light and viewing angle, which looks amazing in person but is not for the more conservative customer. "When we've sold cars in this direction of weirdness, the person who buys it didn't know they wanted it until they saw it," Parsons said. "You want it because you've never seen it before." Case in point: One of the spectral DBS coupes was bought by an existing customer the day he saw it, while the other one was bought by a guy who saw it in the background of an Instagram video and just happened to be a collector of iridescent jewelry. Talk about a match made in heaven.
Now that he's worked so closely with Aston's Q division and pestered them enough, Parsons has a good grasp of what the company is able (and willing) to do. While the process of ordering wild cars has gotten easier, some of the more interesting requests can still be a hassle, and the Newport Beach dealer has more exciting collections and one-offs coming in the near future that are much higher on the hassle scale. I don't want to spill any secrets yet, but get ready for Aston specs the likes of which you've never seen before.