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Article Image - Hot as Hull
Feb / Mar 2017
Hot as Hull

WRITER: Michael Verdon

Mercedes and Aston Martin rocked the boat with their new yacht partnerships, showing off covetable offshore speedsters that are more than what meets the eye.

Two of the world’s most iconic car brands launched boats at the last Monaco Yacht Show. Silver Arrows Marine, which named its new 460 Granturismo after the famed Mercedes Silver Arrows racers of the 1930s, was one of the more fascinating small-yacht debuts at Monaco. Quintessence’s AM37, modelled on the Aston Martin brand, was the other. And instead of developing new concepts simply named after famous cars, both boat builders worked closely with the luxury auto manufacturers to ensure that their respective DNA came through in the final yacht designs. Luckily for us, the result in both cases is more joint venture than licensing agreement.

“About eight years ago, executives at Mercedes asked: ‘Can we build a boat?’” says Paolo Bonaveri, global marketing director at Silver Arrows Marine. “That question eventually came to me, and from there, the project was born.” During the first three years, Mercedes and Silver Arrow spent many hours conceiving the 460 Granturismo. Mercedes Benz Style, the design arm of Daimler AG, came up with the initial concept, providing many of the design cues that eventually made it onto the prototype in Monaco.

“We worked closely with Mercedes because much of the design language – including Mercedes’ convex shapes and curves, had never been seen on a yacht before,” says Bonaveri. “We even incorporated the ‘beauty line’ or drop line that you find on the Mercedes S Coupé models.”

 

The 1.6 million USD AM37 comes with a number of novel features such as a remote-operated three-piece carbon cockpit cover, which stows away under the aft deck.

 

Following the concept, the Monaco-based firm needed to figure out how to build a boat that the world had never seen before. Typically, a 46-foot motoryacht might need half a dozen moulds to create individual pieces for the final boat. The architecture of the 460 was so complex, however, that Silver Arrows created 78 moulds. Even the interior required 24 moulds and two full-sized mock-ups because of its intricate curves and unique glazing. “The hull, windows and interiors all went through an R&D process that’s standard in automotive but unheard of in the marine industry,” says Bonaveri.

Powered by twin 480hp Yanmar diesels, noteworthy for their low NVH (noise, vibration and harshness), the 460 can reach 38 knots with a cruising speed of 26 knots. “We designed the hull to give the feeling of an S Class,” says Bonaveri. “We wanted a soft ride and safe handling, rather like a limousine. The comfortable cruising speed is more important than a yacht that runs super fast.”

Silver Arrows used 24 layers of carbon fibre on the side arches and other sections of the superstructure to make the yacht stronger and lighter, while 62 composite structures below the waterline support on-board equipment. Stretched end to end, the length of the boat’s wires exceeds 5 kilometres. Other statistics are equally impressive: 45 metres of stainless steel piping for the fuel system; 38 metres of LED lighting; and 2000 hours to install the interior. The composite construction took 9000 hours.

 

All the materials, whether leather, carbon fibre, metal and wood are authentic in order to reflect Aston's brand values. 

 

The numbers, however, do not reveal the phantom beauty of the boat. At the Monaco docks, the 460’s monochromatic silver colour was reminiscent of the Silver Arrows racing cars of the 1930s, but the slender, sculpted profile looked more like a modern Mercedes. Several features, in fact, come from concept cars that Mercedes displays at car shows. The windows by French company Vision Systems not only raise and lower, but also transform from clear to dark with the push of a button. The system’s suspended-particle technology is a first in the boating industry. It’s also an excellent feature for privacy.

A smart boat on every level, the 460’s helm has a joystick for steering and touchscreen displays similar to a Mercedes S class. The windows, lights, and air conditioning can be controlled from the helm or via a smartphone or tablet. “The electronic backbone of the yacht includes two computers, kilometres of cables, and dozens of sensors that manage almost all functions,” notes Bonaveri. The exterior also has tech features like a carbon-fibre swimming platform that retracts hydraulically at the stern and a sunpad on the bow accessed via the opening pergola windows in the front.

 

A single piece of sculpted glass is used for the wraparound windscreen and the double curvature is a new concept in boat design.

 

While the exterior is elegantly futuristic, the interior is contemporary and luxurious, a modern pied-a-terre. Silver Arrows designed the interior as a loft on water, with leather seating for ten by Foglizzo, beautiful veneer from Reholz (which supplies the wood in the finest Mercedes) and five metres square front windows that not only open outwards, but tint electronically like the side glazing. “Everything is very meticulously crafted,” says Bonaveri.

Sitting at another Monaco dock, the equally cool AM37 is pure adrenaline, a sportboat created in the spirit of Aston Martin. But with its sleek hull, beautiful teak cockpit and bespoke wraparound windshield, the AM37 was by far the sportiest-looking boat at Monte Carlo. Aston Martin heritage is written all over the boat.

“We don’t just put our brand on any product,” says Katia Bassi, Managing Director of AM Brands. “We’d been approached by other boat builders, but their proposals were nothing new or different. It was just about using our name on their boats.”

But after a year of discussions, Aston Martin agreed to work with Quintessence on the AM37. “We saw Quintessence as serious, but also flexible enough to work with us,” says Bassi.

 

The Arrow 460  Granturismo yacht is probably best suited for work as a tender on a superyacht. It can comfortably carry up to ten passengers, seated on a couple of large sofas and armchairs featuring a curvelinear design. Apart from the side windows which lower like car windows and a windscreen that hinges open for bow access, there's also a lesser-known piece of interior design involving a glass and matt chrome table, which slides out from underneath the sunpads on the bow to either coffee table or dining table size. Should you not want the table, you can slide it away and convert the sofas into an overnight berth. 

 

Quintessence Yacht’s owner, an entrepreneur in the bio-medical field, also owned a shipyard in Holland. The company commissioned Mulder Design, a world-renowned naval architect firm in the Netherlands, to design the hull. At the same time, Aston Martin’s design team got to work on the topsides. “I was truly impressed by what they did for this boat,” says Quintessence CEO Mariella Mengozzi. “They devoted an enormous amount of resources to designing the boat, from every single line to the teak afterdeck that defines the stern. They went far, far beyond what the contract called for.”

Bassi agrees that the many months of intensive “back and forth” between the Aston Martin team and Quintessence Yachts is what transformed the AM37 into an Aston Martin on water. “We needed to ensure we had the beauty and ideal proportions our team is obsessed with,” she says. “The project was more detailed than anything we’d ever done, but it also involved greater satisfaction. We’re very proud of the end result.”

Quintessence Yachts even established a new yard in Southampton to retain the boat’s British DNA. “That area of England is considered the strongest boatbuilding area in Europe,” says Mengozzi. “It also gave us the opportunity to work more closely with Aston Martin and their suppliers.”

 


The 1.7 million USD Arrow 460  was developed by Mercedes-Benz Style and Silver Arrows Marine and is being built by the Finnish yard, Baltic Yachts. 

 

The AM37 uses the same providers of the sports car line for techy items like the graphics for the touchscreen console at the helm to the leather saddlebags and handles right beside them. The paint is also from the same supplier, but marinized against salt water. “The input from Aston Martin on features like the woods, leathers and metals was invaluable,” says Mengozzi. “It gave the boat its impeccable sense of quality.”

The AM37 is essentially a custom project since almost all items, except for the engines and exhaust plates (modelled after its Vulcan sportscar), were designed from scratch. Fittingly, owners can customise their boats using the full range of Aston Martin exterior colours, along with the auto brand’s woods and leathers, and also have access to Aston Martin’s “Q” customisation service for a truly bespoke yacht.

Not surprisingly, the AM37’s inner beauty is matched by its performance in the four-foot seas outside the harbour’s gates. A double-stepped hull designed to handle big seas at speed, the leather-covered steering wheel and joystick and the option of controlling on-board functions via smartphone and voice recognition make the boat about as exciting to drive as, well, an Aston Martin in a Bond movie.

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