Rapid launch for Aston Martin's Rapide

Aston Martin has revealed that its beautiful Rapide four-door concept car will go into production in mid-2007, at least two years before Porsche's Panamera is scheduled to hit the street.

The Rapide concept debuted only last month at the Detroit Auto Show, in what certainly appeared to be production-ready form. Nonetheless, today's news comes as a surprise, and something of a coup for Ford's subsidiary.

Automotive News reports that the news could easily have been quite different - the Rapide is the brainchild of Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez, who proposed a four-seat, four-door coupe while he was product design chief at Porsche in the early '90s, only to have the project shut down in 1992.

It looks like persistence pays off.

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