Aston Martin DBS, Virage, V8 Vantage Dragon 88 at 2012 Beijing motor show

Published: 23 April 2012

Aston Martin whipped the covers off a trio of Dragon 88 special editions at the 2012 Beijing motor show - with local-market China-aimed versions of the DBS Volante, Virage coupe and V8 Vantage S coupe.

And if you're wondering why Aston is focusing so much of its energies on China, remember this: it is opening 11 - eleven! - new dealerships here in 2012, as it taps into the new found wealth and sales opportunities in this growth market.

That's on top of the nine garages Aston Martin already runs in China. The plan is for China to become the marque's third biggest market globally.

Aston Martin DBS Volante Dragon 88, Virage Dragon 88 and V8 Vantage S Dragon 88… that's a lot of dragons…

Yes, yes. Aston types (never shrinking violets) are making great play about the Year of the Dragon theme. Just 88 cars will be built, featuring some of the personalisation that Aston is ramping up.

Like Ferrari and Lamborghini, there's good money to be made by catering to wealthy customers' every whim, so expect to hear plenty more about the new Q by Aston Martin service. It's said to offer 'almost endless opportunity for expression' and the VH aluminium architecture underpinning modern Aston Martins will allow for a surprising degree of individuality, says Gaydon.

So what do I get on my Dragon 88 models?

A new paintjob picked from three colours designed to reflect Chinese art and imagery, says Aston. Plus the more bling detail of a 24-carat gold finish to the wing badges on the Aston logo. You have been warned - that'd spark a Beastie Boy style theft craze in Britain.

To showcase the Q by Aston Martin service, a Rapide in Ming Blue paint was shown - with walnut splattered generously inside and Ming-style seat embroidery inside the cabin.

We may scoff, but it seems to go down well with Chinese show visitors.

Ulrich Bez explains Aston Martin's China strategy

The chief executive of Aston, Ulrich Bez, said that the company had launched a wholly owned subsidiary to sell cars in China. 

'We became general distributor after resolving a lawsuit about distribution rights on friendly terms and we are both proud and pleased that we were able to achieve this,' he said.

'It is another important step on our journey to developing a successful sales operation here in China. Like many newcomers to China we have learned a lot since we first came here in 2007. We expect China to become one of our most important markets.'