British cars are almost as much about style as they are about engineering. Having owned a couple of moody motors from that faraway isle, I’d even go as far as to say that on most occasions, it’s style first, then everything else second. This desire to look good and come across in a certain way also extends far beyond mere metal and rubber. Sure, you can rock up at The Dorchester in your brightly colored gentleman’s express wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip-flops, but don’t be surprised if the doorman wipes a tear out of his eye behind your back. Luckily, your lesson in style has just arrived in the form of the Aston Martin Rapide S Hackett Edition.
If there is one person who represents and defines the style of the classic British gentleman these days, then that man is almost certainly Jeremy Hackett. Sometimes referred to as “the UK’s Ralph Lauren,” Hackett opened his first shop on King’s Road in London in 1983, where he sold high-quality used clothing. Since then, he has managed to turn what was essentially a posh ukay-ukay store into a global brand synonymous with classic Great Britain style. He counts distinguished personalities like Prince William among his customers, and is also now producing a clothing line in collaboration with Aston Martin.
The luxury carmaker recently picked up the phone and asked Mr. Hackett if he fancied working his magic on a whole car instead of just a few shirts and driving gloves. The latter didn’t need asking twice, and the result is pictured here. The fact that this vehicle—which will now join other commissions in the company’s Q cars program—doesn’t sport outrageous wheel arches, loud colors or a huge rear wing is exactly the point. This is a bespoke suit on wheels, mixing thoughtful style with V12 punch, starting with the pale-blue exterior that isn’t too in-your-face but still stands out in a gentlemanly way.
Inside, passengers are greeted by seats covered in an oversize Prince of Wales check—a fabric that features two dark and two light stripes alternating with four dark and four light stripes to create a crossing pattern. This was used as a nod to Aston Martin being by appointment to the royal household. The material wasn’t just taken from the shelves of the nearest fabric store, of course, but instead was made by a cloth mill called Fox Brothers in Somerset, England. This place has been weaving fabrics fit for kings since 1772, and many classic cars from the ’40s and the ’50s also sported Fox cloth on their seats. Hackett liked it so much that he had a few additional meters made by the mill, which he turned into a suit for himself. A lightly colored wood fascia completes the look and offers a welcome contrast to the subdued appearance of the cabin.
So, why is this car so special? Because it represents the kind of old-school style that seems to be getting rarer and rarer these days. You won’t see any gold-chain-wearing rappers or scantily clad Instagram models behind the wheel of this automobile. This project was about creating a complete package that will make your doorman smile in admiration when you pull up at the valet box. Among the many pieces of sartorial advice the famous tailor has given in his life—the tip that a man should always look like he has dressed effortlessly—is one of the most memorable ones. The same concept applies to this car. It looks like it was easy to do, but in reality took a lot of time and skill to put together.
Another one of his aphorisms is that you should dress for yourself and not to impress others, and again this car project demonstrates that mindset perfectly. Only subtle accents like the JPH1 (which stands for Jeremy Paul Hackett) badge on the rear or the Union Jack side emblems give away the fact that this is a special-edition car. True British style is understated and never loud. It also comes with a few rules that apply no matter how big or small your budget is (and it would need to be quite big if you wanted to wear clothes by the man himself). Dress your age is one of them, too, and buying the best you can afford is another. Want more? It is better to have one good suit rather than three mediocre ones. Try and make them navy blue instead of black, and of course, don’t neglect the shoes. Done right, this should give you timeless style that laughs at fast fashion, and make you look good behind the wheel of an Aston Martin (or any other car, really).