The new 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish was recently unveiled in St. Louis to great acclaim and fanfare, during a first-class affair hosted by J.J. Mills and Graham Hill of St. Louis Motorsports. The guest list included Julian Jenkins, the regional director for Aston Martin of the Americas, who led the introduction of the new 2014 Vanquish in the beautiful newly remodeled Aston Martin showroom.

Indeed, the star of the evening was an all-carbon-fiber-bodied beauty that updates the classic modern Aston Martin look with some modern and even futuristic styling cues and mechanical advancements. When it was driven in, the Vanquish elicited gasps from guests, as everyone crowded around to get a first glimpse of this rolling sculpture, while the unmistakable roar of its 565-horsepower, 6.0-liter, 12-cylinder engine filled the room. Aston Martin boasts the Vanquish offers “performance, presence and style”—and boy, does it!

The Vanquish has a very small, optional back seat and a little trunk, so if you’re going on a trip, pack lightly. The center console is copied from the multi-million dollar, limited-production Aston Martin One-77 supercar. The engine is pushed way back in the engine compartment, adjusting the front/rear balance of the car to as close to 50/50 as possible to enhance handling. Unfortunately, the Vanquish only will be offered with a 6-speed automatic transmission, no manual. But even with an automatic, zero to 60 takes only four seconds. A new Vanquish will set you back about $280,000. It costs to be cool.

The introduction of the Vanquish was part of a worldwide celebration surrounding the 100th anniversary of Aston Martin. Founded in 1913 by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin as Bamford & Martin, the name Aston Martin was adopted the next year in honor of Martin’s successful run at the Aston Hill climb in Buckinghamshire, England. Aston Martin’s racing legacy began in 1922 at the French Grand Prix. In 1928, it first entered the famous 24 hours of Le Mans race. In 1947, famed British industrialist David Brown took over Aston Martin, and the famous DB series of cars began with the DB2. (The company currently is producing a DB9 model.) Racing success and company growth continued throughout the 1950s. In 1963, the iconic DB5 was introduced. Often acclaimed as the most beautiful car in the world, the DB5 rose to fame as the preferred ride of Aston Martin’s most famous client, James Bond. Bond’s tricked-out DB5 was first driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger, and most recently driven by Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

Another famous client, Prince Charles, lent his 1969 Volante to his son, Prince William, who used it to transport his new bride, Katherine, through the streets of London on their wedding day.

The ‘70s were a rough time for Aston Martin, requiring takeovers in 1972 and 1975. The infamous, futuristic-looking Lagonda sedan, introduced in the mid-70's, was beautiful and had good performance, but was pricy and had reliability issues. In 1987, Ford bought a majority stake in Aston Martin, which gave it the capital and expertise to revive its line of cars and revitalize the whole company. In 1993, the ‘modern’ Aston Martin was reborn with the introduction of the DB7 sports coupe, which was the first glimpse of the iconic modern styling that has brought Aston Martin to where it is today.

The real modern era began in 2003, with the opening of the company’s state-of-the-art production facility in Gaydon, England, the first purpose-built production facility in its history. In 2007, Ford sold Aston Martin to a consortium of two major investment houses, but the management team continued its successful progress. In 2009, the Rapide, a sleek four-door sedan, was revealed, putting Aston Martin back in the sedan market after a 30-year absence.

Amazingly, Aston Martin has survived several financial pitfalls throughout the years, only to stand today—in its 100th year—in probably its most solid financial standing and with the strongest lineup of vehicles it has ever had. Here’s to another 100 years of iconic British sports-car motoring!