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Haunting the East End of London with ‘Zag the Ripper’

On this night of all nights, morally sincere individuals the world over take on monstrous characters for a single evening. But for a select few, the bloodlust won't end there – and this threatening all-black Aston Martin V8 Zagato might prove a worthy partner-in-crime…

Although Whitechapel is no longer the den of poverty-driven immorality it was in the late 1800s, bona fide undesirables still lurk in the dingy cobbled backstreets that track behind the façade of gentrification the area has undergone in recent years. Many of the original sites of the Jack the Ripper murder locations have now been developed upon, with entirely new landscapes and renamed streets – but at night an eerie vibe lingers, as do shady characters with deviant intentions.

For a relatively well-heeled evil-doer, the Aston Martin V8 Zagato – itself a subject of intrigue and controversy in its era – is perhaps the perfect accomplice with which to prowl the district’s many cobbled backstreets, artfully navigating the gaps in the street lighting. Dripping in Raven Black paint, its angular body exudes a stealthy menace, while razor-like wheels cut an intimidating figure and tinted windows allow the suspect to preserve his anonymity, just as Jack would require.

Although its appearance might be what streetwise youths refer to as ‘murdered-out’, the V8 isn’t the most audibly discreet weapon of choice. However, given the headstart the infamous killer always maintained over his pursuers, any assailant could leave the scene nonchalantly with a throaty Weber-carbed burble rather than a bloodcurdling howl. What’s more, the lightweight aluminium bodywork means it’s usefully feather-footed – plus the Brick Lane cop shop closes at 8pm.

The details are devilish, too. As if it needed any more visual identifiers to differentiate it from its sane V8 brothers, numerous jagged emblems inside and out reinforce the Zagato’s deviant character, and those who like the feeling of cold metal in their palm will appreciate the steel, Z-embossed gear lever. During its adoption into the Zagato family, the V8 lost its rear seats – but then any self-respecting malefactor would always be willing to sacrifice room for the living in lieu of more boot space…

Since numerous butchers were questioned about Jack’s crimes, it seemed apt to visit the famous Spitalfields market – a hive of activity at this hour, when tomorrow’s meat is being delivered in refrigerated trucks. Here, men in bloodstained white overalls go about their work with normalcy; a wrongdoer could easily find temporary refuge at this location before moving on to the next.

Attempting to replicate the notorious ‘double event’, next we avoid the Old Bill at the Museum of London Rotunda (beneath which lie the remains of 14,000 Black Death victims), before finishing for a lock-in at the tavern in Bleeding Heart Yard, named as such after the folklore murder of society beauty Lady Elizabeth Hatton. After a night’s work of which Jack would truly be proud, perhaps ‘Zag’ will create a legend of his very own.

Photos: Alex Lawrence / The Whitewall for Classic Driver © 2016

This menacing black-on-black 1986 Aston Martin V8 Zagato is currently for sale through London-based Classic Driver dealer DD Classics.