At least 800 people in the U.S. have slapped down deposits as large as $20,000 for the Aston Martin DB9, without ever having test driving the $155,000-$168,000 car.
In addition, Aston Martin's forthcoming coupe and convertible, with deliveries beginning later this year, boasts a waiting list of 12 to 18 months. And in some extreme cases — such as when a buyer orders a more customized interior — deposits can equal the entire price of the car.
Rather than being a nuisance to buyers, however, waiting lists and sizable deposits are part of the cache associated with being an Aston Martin client, John Walton, vice president and general manager of Aston Martin Lagonda of North America Inc., tells Ward's at an event at a train station converted into a restaurant in upscale Birmingham, MI to introduce the DB9 to “qualified prospects.”
More than 4,000 people attended the company's invitation-only “Driven to the 9s Tour” that landed in recent months in 30 U.S. cities where there are Aston Martin dealers. Some 10% picked out interior and exterior colors, dash materials and seat fabrics — and then wrote a check to secure their purchase.
Local sales people helped buyers customize their new super car against the backdrop of two pre-production versions of the DB9 — one coupe and one convertible — both of which were not moved from stationary displays set up at exclusive hot spots, such as restaurants and museums.
“What people are prepared to do is put their faith in how beautiful it looks, what they've read, what the dealers tell them about the car,” Walton says. “A lot of them will be people who have had Astons before or they will be people who are so convinced by what they see, that's all they need.”
In all, some 800 U.S. buyers have expressed such faith by plopping down deposits mostly ranging between $1,000 and $20,000 since the DB9 debuted in Frankfurt in September. The 400 DB9s that will come to the U.S. already are spoken for and the 1,100 units scheduled for the U.S. next year probably will be earmarked for specific customers before year's end, Walton says.
Aston Martin's ability to woo buyers makes it one of Ford Motor Co.'s most sought after brands in the U.S. and the only marque in the auto maker's global stable capable of running with the super-luxury likes of Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley and Porsche.
But such equity currently does little to improve Ford's bottom line, Chairman and CEO Bill Ford tells the investment community.
“(Aston Martin) won't hit our bottom line very much, but they are pretty cars,” Bill Ford says in a casual reference to Ford's most elite brand, suggesting its trophy status won't change in order to help the company's fledgling luxury brand operation.