In 2011, British luxury car maker Aston Martin decided its next model shouldn’t be another V12-powered supercar. Instead, the historic marque decided it was going to make a city car based on the Scion iQ.
Called the Cygnet, the pocket-sized Aston Martin was a supermini packed with luxury features, and it came with a premium price tag to match.
You might be surprised to hear that this experiment didn’t prove as popular as James Bond’s favorite car maker might have hoped. In fact, Aston Martin canned the Cygnet after it sold fewer than 150 units.
But, did you know this wasn’t the company’s first experiment with a moderately-sized car?
It hasn’t been a regular occurrence, but Aston Martin did unveil another hatchback in the 1980s. Way back then, the luxury car maker partnered with defunct brand British Leyland to create the Frazer-Tickford Metro.
This modest looking supermini was first unveiled in 1981. To create the car, a subsidiary of Aston Martin took the totally nondescript Austin Metro and pumped it full of various luxuries.
Inside, the Frazer-Tickford Metro featured leather seats, dash and steering wheel, as well as an Alcantara headlining and some pretty plush carpets. The car also boasted an improved stereo, cruise control, and tinted, electric windows.
On the outside, the car was fitted with a full body kit and enamel badges. Under the hood, it packed an Aston Martin-tuned engine that kicked out a mighty 80hp. Fun fact, that’s just 20hp less than the Cygnet produced when it debuted 30 years later.
At the time of its launch in the 1980s, this premium city car retailed at more than £11,000 ($14,000), which made it “significantly more” than a Porsche 944.
But what was Frazer-Tickford and what did it have to do with Aston Martin?
Well, Tickford was originally a coachbuilder that made cars for brands like MG, Standard, and Daimler. But, in 1955, former Aston Martin owner David Brown purchased the company and moved production of the luxury cars into the Tickford factory.
Tickford then worked as a subsidiary of the supercar maker, and its logo took on a similar form to Aston Martin’s wings emblem.
During Tickford’s time modifying Austin Metros, the company produced just 26 of these Aston Martin-tuned city cars. That makes this one of the rarest cars created by the British marque and on a level with the Aston Martin Vulcan, of which just 25 were created.
With an experimental Aston Martin city car trialled in 1981 and another in 2011, does this mean we’ll have to wait until 2041 for the company to take a third stab at it?
Maybe by then it’ll be acceptable for supercar makers to start pumping out hot hatchbacks.
But for anyone hoping to own an Aston Martin-badged supermini before then, auctioneer H&H Classics is now selling the 1982 Frazer-Tickford Metro that you see above.
The car in question was sold to photographer Wendal ‘Rick’ McBride in the 1980s and has covered just 15,000km (10,000 miles) since new.
Finished in Cairngorm Brown with a saddle leather interior, the 1982 Metro is one of just three that was originally produced for the US market.
Expected to sell for at least £35,000 ($47,000), the Metro was previously displayed during the 1982 Los Angeles Motor Show. In 2015, it underwent an extensive service, and in 2018 it had an interior refresh.
Sadly, with Aston Martin’s DBX SUV proving all too popular these days, it may be a while before the brand experiments with another hot hatch. But for anyone hoping to get their hands on one sooner, $47,000 for an ultra-rare Aston Martin hatchback could be seen as a bargain!