Here’s a sport boat that’s going nowhere fast: the Aston Martin Voyage 55, a concept boat conceived by Luiz de Basto Designs, Miami.
Architect Luiz de Basto specializes in luxury yachts. Every year or so, he and his team design a concept boat as a professional exercise. In 2011, he chose to create the Martin Voyage 55, a high-performance boat inspired by the lines of Aston Martin’s Vantage, Rapide, DBS and Virage.
“This boat was not for production. It’s just that I was interested in using the brand,” he explains. “I have an Aston Martin Vantage, and I love the lines of the car. So I thought, ‘Why not design something with the characteristics of that brand name for the fun of it?’ ”
There are many routes he could have taken. After all, physical architecture, nature, aircraft and “green” building materials also inspire boat designs. “Cars are just one influence,” he says, “and not the best, in my opinion.
“Cars and boats have totally different uses, so there’s really no meaning to designing a boat that looks like a car. To begin with, you can’t walk on the hood of a car.”
To make this project work, de Basto took small details that are characteristic of the Aston Martin and incorporated them into his overall boat design.
Take the iconic Aston Martin grill, for example. “Of course, boats don’t have grills. A boat has a bow, which is pointed, but when people look at our concept boat, they see ‘Aston Martin.’ They aren’t clear why, but it’s because of the shape of the big windshield on the hull that has the same shape as the grille on the Aston Martin.
“Even though the proportions are different, the window, which also serves a functional purpose for the boat, brings in an element of the car.”
Other classic Aston Marting design elements include the engine ventilation intake over the hood, which was adapted to create a sun pad and a hatch. Headlights resemble cleats, and turning lights look like the navigation lights.
The concept works because of the size of the boat, de Basto notes. “If you go any bigger, let’s say an 80- or 90-footer, no way could we use the elements of a sports car on a boat that size – a car doesn’t have three decks,” he says.
For a sporty look, the boat’s design had to exude power. But it also had be elegant and refined, “like you could arrive at a party at night in a tuxedo,” he says.
While the Aston Martin brand was the basis for the concept, de Basto didn’t adhere to it completely. When the project was completed, he contacted Aston Martin’s marketing department, he says. “We had made the boat green and yellow, because those were the colors of the AM racing team that year, and they told us that they had changed their racing colors to white.
“So what? I’m not going to do white. White doesn’t express what we wanted.”
Even though this boat is not going anywhere, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t. “I did this for professional reasons — not because I wanted to build it, but the boat is engineered. It’s feasible. It’s not something out of the blue,” de Basto says. “We had to make technical drawings to ensure that we were working in the right dimensions.”
When creating a concept car, he and his team work within self-imposed specifications. “Every product comes with parameters defined by the owner or the market, and that’s good. Inside the boundaries, we try to be creative. Then, when we are done, we can look at the end result and see if we achieved what we aimed for.”
De Basto has designed concept boats that he later built, or wants to build.
His Quartz 55-meter superyacht is beautiful, high-tech, modern, American, and is a custom-build, he explains. “It uses flat glass, which makes it striking and also less expensive to build. It’s about ‘contact with nature,’ and it opens up.”
The Quartz features a hull with aft sides that flip down to reveal a beach club that runs from port to starboard. The hinge-down panels that extend and increase the deck area are a creation that he used in another concept boat, the Top Deck 63 Astondoa.
The Astondoa is in production, with the first one presented at the Cannes Boat Show in September.
The Onyx 41 Hodgdon, another concept boat, was introduced in July. “It’s very high-tech, a modern boat, but with lines that are reminiscent of the 1920s and 1930s. It’s a mix of traditional and modern, with skylights on the foredeck that have a wonderful effect from the inside. I love the exterior; the proportions are very nice. We just finished the design; it’s been engineered, and it’s ready to go.”