“We want to make the pattern quite complex, but it has to be easy to apply,” adds Holgate. “When a car returns to the workshop we’ll often swap parts, which means applying new camo each time. We don’t want to make it too obvious we’ve changed a part.”
Speed is also crucial: with test and development time limited, Aston’s test team don’t want to sit around waiting for complex wraps to be applied.
The volume of sculpture on an Aston Martin design makes disguising the lines particularly hard, so the firm also uses “more subtle” physical disguise elements in the form of foam blocks stuck to the car. The wrap helps to hide the placement of these elements. Lights, meanwhile, will also be covered, leaving just the minimum legal standard visible.
But there are some features that just can’t be hidden, so Holgate doesn’t try. “We’ve started highlighting the grille,” he says. “It’s very difficult to hide, so you just have to embrace some areas, while trying to hide other parts.”
Another example is the DBX’s rear wing, which deflects air down the back window, removing the need for a windscreen wiper. “We’d love to have kept that secret for the reveal, but the testers needed it working to ensure the results were right, so we couldn’t disguise it,” says Holgate. “When elements offer form and function you just have to accept they’re going to be seen.”
Aston has updated the DBX wrap’s design several times, at one stage switching it to red and adding a Welsh dragon to recognise the new St Athan plant where the model will be built. Holgate adds that since attention tends to lessen when the same livery is seen multiple times, it’s seen an opportunity: “People get used to seeing the same camo, so you might be able to sneak a new bumper or something in under the radar.”
The aim is that when the wrapping paper finally comes off a new car such as the DBX, the styling is still a surprise. And if Holgate has really done his job well, it won’t be what you’re expecting, either.
Speaking of which, that box under the tree that you think contains the keys to a new DBX? Sorry, but it’s socks.