After 13 years, Aston Martin is stopping production of the beautiful DB9. While the design is still stunning, the car’s mechanics and performance have been overtaken by newer, more technically-advanced rivals. While the new breed of Aston Martins such as the DB11 herald a rebirth for the brand, spare a thought for the DB9. It probably saved the Aston Martin brand from meltdown.

The DB9 was a beacon of hope for Aston Martin when it debuted in 2003. The 1970s and 1980s hadn't been kind to Aston Martin. The manufacturer had a much-needed hit with the DB7, which debuted in 1994 and sold more than 9000 examples over the next 10 years, but it was not without flaws. The DB7 was the first new Aston developed under Ford's stewardship, but it was based on a Jaguar platform that was nearly 20 years old by the time it appeared in 1993. The car’s reliability issues and some dubious elements such as interior parts from Ford cars severely undermined Aston Martin’s brand equity.

The DB9, though, was the closest thing to an all-new Aston Martin in years, the car that finally brought the company into the 21st century. The design, courtesy of Ian Callum and Henrik Fisker, was a significant step forward too, and set the template for Astons to come. It was easily the best looking Aston since the iconic DB5. Not only that but it was reliable too. Thanks to the DB9, Aston Martin could once again count itself as a premium marque, underpinned by those key brand cornerstones of definition, delivery, expression and experience.

Last week, Aston Martin posted a picture of the final nine DB9 GTs to roll off the assembly line. While DB9 bones will live on in the Vanquish and Rapide, it still feels like the end of an era.

The DB11 of 2016 represents the same thing to Aston Martin that the DB9 did in 2003: A bright and hopeful future. With the DB11 comes a new platform, a new twin-turbo V12, and hopefully, enough sales to keep the brand alive.

The DB9 deserves credit for keeping Aston Martin afloat as the brand shook off past failures and soldiered into the 21st century. The DB9 goes out of production years after it past its prime, but without it, there'd likely be no Aston Martin at all.