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Tucked under the long hood of this gorgeous four-door Rapide S lies
Aston’s 5.9-liter V-12, which is mounted 0.7 inch lower than the former
Rapide and sees an increase in output. Horsepower jumps from 470 to 550,
while torque went from 443 lb-ft to 457. The company also says that
the S will cut 0.4 second from the previous car’s 4.8 second 0–60 time.
Top speed is now 190 mph. Check it below:
Few people have lived a life as interesting and varied as Helio
Ascari. Hailing from South Brazil, he was blessed with photogenic genes
and spent most of his young adult years as a well-paid international
model working with some of the foremost magazines and photographers. But
a few years ago, he experienced a personal, existential seismic shift
and realized he didn’t want anything further to do with the lights and
cameras of the fashion world. Instead he wanted to return to the passion
of his childhood; meticulously crafting objects of long-lasting value
with his bare hands. He attended the United Bicycle Institute in
Ashland, Oregon, and went on to form Ascari Bicycles. Together with his
design/business partner Gary Mathis, they build some of the most
beautiful, vintage-inspired bicycles you’ll ever feast your eyes upon.
Even the king of American Sportswear, Mr. Ralph Lauren commissioned him
to make one of his outstanding creations for his heritage-inspired RRL
line. He currently splits time between Williamsburg, Brooklyn and his
main bicycle workshop in Portland, Oregon. Welcome to the enchanted life
of Helio Ascari … After being a well-paid fashion model for so long, when did
you realize you were sick of the industry and needed to pursue something
different with your life?
I grew up working in steel and wood factories in the south of Brazil.
The process of design and development of a product, and seeing the
final product was such a delightful experience to me. When I was working
as a model, I had the opportunity to not only see the world but also to
improve my sense of values, which was fundamental for the creation of
my own company. Yes, I was a well-paid fashion model but my mind and
heart were always in those factories from my childhood. I always had a
fascination for the process of transforming materials into objects. I
find true happiness when I have my lathe and torch near me.
How did building bicycles become the career you decided to pour all your passion into?
I have always had a passion for combining elements into objects. I
started restoring bicycles at the age of 8, and since then, it instantly
became a passion that never left my heart. It was only a matter of time
and money for me before I made this a career. You’ve stated that making your handcrafted bicycles is your
way of creating products that have lasting and staying power – can you
elaborate on that?
Yes, I think that we surround ourselves nowadays with so many
disposable products, things that leave no memories. I always mention
that our bikes can last 200 years or more, because I wanted to create
something that can be passed from generation to generation – classic in
design and using only the finest materials available.
What differentiates an Ascari-handcrafted bicycle from anything else on the market?
I think that what makes an Ascari different is passion; the amount of
passion we put in each one of our bikes is intangible. We constantly
hear people saying that what we are making over here is art. So I can
say that the passion followed by art and design is what makes an Ascari
unique. Of course, it is also a combination of the many unique elements
we use in the bike.
When it comes to the division of labor, how does it go
between you and your partner Gary Mathis when it comes to building a
custom bicycle for a client?
Gary is a well-known frame builder, and he’s been working in this
industry forever. He is my mentor on the construction process. When we
met, we had an instant connection – we have so much in common. There is a
mutual collaboration going on, and we build my designs together. Also how do you make it work being bi-coastal, having a garage in Portland but maintaining a presence in NYC?
I make it work by constantly traveling back and forth. NYC has been
an unbelievable experience in my life; it brings me so much inspiration
and opportunities. I say that NYC is the only place in the world that
you can be whoever you want, including yourself. On the other hand,
having Ascari workshop in Portland has given us recognition and respect
amongst frame builders. Handmade bicycles are huge in Oregon.
Bicycles are getting faster and lighter with use of carbon
graphite frames and other technologies – how do you feel about these
I think that it is awesome to see new technologies coming alive. We
can not run against the advancements of technology, and every
improvement allows us to create new designs and enhance our performance
in so many ways. But we have to ask ourselves: “Why go faster and
lighter?” It all depends on what exactly you are looking for. I
particularly like looking back to move forward, meaning I like how
things were done in the past. I like to rescue the preciousness from the
past, and keep the classics alive. What was the biggest lesson you learned at UBI with regards to building bicycles that you hold sacred to this day?
Oh man, I learned so many cool things, but UBI helped me to rescue
something that was asleep inside of me for years. And of course, that’s
where I met my business partner Gary Mathis.
Can you briefly explain the pride and accomplishment you felt when you got to make an Ascari bicycle for Ralph Lauren?
Mr. Lauren has inspired so many designers around the world and I was
one of them. For me, it was a dream come true. It was a blessing to have
this iconic personality endorsing my creation. Why do you think bicycle culture is experiencing such huge popularity right now?
First of all, it is a Planet’s need. I think that people are
realizing more and more that we need to create a more sustainable
environment. Secondly there is a whole fashion movement around bikes
right now – it has become very fashionable to have your brand linked to
bikes. Actually there is no better way to expose your style than
commuting in a bicycle.
Let’s talk about your fashion aesthetic. You have a very
well-tuned vintage style – 1930′s hats etc – how did you gravitate to
Undeniably my vintage style comes from lessons I learned from my
father. He taught me good taste with personality. But part of it also
comes from my old soul – I’ve loved old stuff since I was a little boy.
When I saw RRL’s windows for the first time, I felt an unbelievable
connection to my roots.
There is harmony and rhythm between my work and my look.
Lastly switching speeds, being that you are from Brazil and
an innate soccer fan – who are going to be the last two teams standing
in the upcoming 2014 world cup?
Oh man, I would love to see Brazil against Italy.