It's nigh impossible to write the words "Aston Martin" without the name of a famous secret agent spurting out uncontrollably in the very next sentence. That perfect symbiosis is ingrained in the mind and becomes almost impossible to skirt when our host for the day speaks in near-perfect clipped English with just the mildest hint of a German accent. That man is Max Loder, who at 26 years old is lucky enough to call this tuned-up Aston Martin DBS his company car.
Loder1899 started, unsurprisingly, in 1899 as an agricultural machinery and bicycle repair shop on the outskirts of Munich. A petrol station followed in 1927, which was a big deal back then, and in 1962 the company blossomed into a Ford sales and repair center. Tuning followed, and the firm does a roaring trade tuning the Blue Oval's lesser fare, while sister company Delta 4x4 takes care of the off-road community.
But Loder has always had a soft spot for Aston Martin and a few years ago produced his first kit for the V8 Vantage. But then he clapped eyes on the DBS, and he just had to do it.
But where do you start with the DBS? It's more than enough car for most men, and was even accused of being a DB9 with an overly aggressive body kit when it left the factory. The deep vented hood, the flared fenders, the front splitter; they're all as extreme in their own special way and taking things further would have risked making a laughing stock of the best Bond car ever.
So Loder left the outside alone, barring the wheels, and you'd have to look close to tell them apart from the standard alloys. Look close, though, and you'll see that these hollow-spoke efforts are even sexier than Aston's own twin-spoke work, and set the car apart from a crowd that was already beyond exclusive. The 20-inch lightweights aren't going to impact the performance, but they will draw admiring glances from aficionados.
Loder1899 hasn't messed with the looks, but it has sharpened performance. With the help of shorter, firmer springs, Loder has dropped the car 20mm and helped transform its character. Because the big Aston V12s have always fallen short of out-and-out sportiness. That would go against the grain as each is, when all is said and done, a gentleman's Grand Tourer. The DBS is all bluff and muscle, but the driving experience must remain inherently Aston Martin. And when the car leaves the factory there's a hint of roll it could do without.
Not any more. The Loder Aston bites apexes with all the conviction of an Italian exotic. The Continental SportContact3s hang on to that apex, and there's now no sign of the DBS's 3,836-pound curb weight as it catapults through the bend and on to the next straight, where the true majesty of the Loder1899 conversion shines through.
Because the Aston Martin V12 is one of the finest-sounding instruments on this Earth. This goes beyond just an engine note, a soundtrack of pure power; the Aston produces real music. It's deeper and more guttural than a Ferrari. The individual parts add up to a symphony, and now they're even louder.
Loder has fitted a new exhaust to liberate that glorious 6.0-liter, and at 4000 rpm, when the bypass valves open, a little door to automotive heaven swings free with it. It's a deep mechanized roar rising from deep within the car like a wave rising from the ocean floor. The shocked expressions of those we pass and the dogs cowering from the approaching beast give just the slightest indication of how good it sounds.
The only problem is if this was my car I'd be permanently slowing and slamming through the 4000-rpm watershed, which would be expensive, and would eventually land me in jail. But it could be worth it.
It's a delicate aural assault, if there is such a thing, that goes well beyond Aston Martin's own work and creates a car so loud, so aggressive, that Bond's enemies would hear him coming a country away. This is the Loder conversion's main selling point, the main reason Aston customers are banging on the Bavarian workshop's door to get their own music cranked up to 11.
The exhaust liberates another 20 hp, too, giving the DBS a more than healthy 530 hp, which provides a sliver-thin performance advantage over the stock car's 4.3-second dash to 60 mph and its 191-mph top speed. It still can't compete with the Ferrari 599s or LP640s of this world, but it sounds like it can. It's more than fast enough on a public road, too, and anyone that bought his DBS as a track car and misses those fractions on track is fundamentally wired wrong and deserves the disappointment.
Because this is still a street car, even with Loder1899's $25,000 upgrade package, but it's closer to the all-out sports car we hoped for when the DBS first hit the presses. It's still the full English GT, with a subtle German tone, and it might just be the best sounding car on this Earth.
Loder 1899 DBS
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
6.0-liter V12, dohc, 48-valve. Loder sport exhaust
Lowering springs (20mm)
Wheels And Tires
Loder Vertigo Viginti, 20-inch Continental SportContact3
Peak Power: 530 hp @ 6500 rpm
Peak Torque: 420 lb-ft @ 5750 rpm
0-62 moh: 4.3 sec.
Top Speed: 191 mph