After 55 years Ercole Spada's original 1960 design for a roadster version of the classic Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato became reality.
Ercole Spada joined the Milanese coachbuilder Zagato in February of 1960 and set about designing Aston Martin’s DB4GT Zagato coupe. The car was introduced in October of that year at the London Motor Show, and because of its beauty and rarity, it has become the marque’s most prized model. At the same time that he was conceiving the coupe, Spada, who was 23 at the time, made a few pencil renderings of a DB4GT roadster—or more specifically, an open racecar known in Italy as a barchetta. 55 years later, a car based on that design was built under the direction of Jonathan Ward — and Spada himself. It is called the Icon Aston Martin DB4GTZ Spada Roadster.
Ward is the founder and lead designer of Icon, a Chatsworth, Calif., company that produces, among other vehicles, concours-quality road-warrior apparatus based on the Toyota FJ40 and Ford Bronco. Ward’s operation also attracts clients who commission unique rolling stock. To one such client, an Aston Martin fan, Ward proposed a convertible version of the DB4GT Zagato; and so began a project that would exceed all expectations.
While developing Icon’s design for a DB4GT roadster, Ward researched all the published plans for the Zagato coupe and used two examples of the car as references: one in England that he laser-scanned and another in Beverly Hills that belongs to the collector David Sydorick. Those resources and a healthy dose of what-ifs enabled Ward to make 3-D renderings and a one-twelfth-scale model of a roadster. He had tried to locate published photographs of Spada’s original barchetta drawings and ultimately to locate Spada, but to no avail. Then another of his clients offhandedly mentioned that Spada had recently attended his daughter’s wedding. He was alive and well, residing outside Turin, Italy, and working with his son, Paolo, at SpadaConcept, an automotive and industrial design house that Paolo established a decade ago.
The client offered to share Ward’s design plans with Spada. When Spada, who turned 78 in July 2015, learned of the project, he wanted in. And so began a collaboration that, says Ward, “let Ercole Spada set the record straight.”
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