By Marc Lachapelle
Aston Martin was showing three new cars in Geneva, in addition to the Lagonda Concept (see other story). Profitable for the past four years and led by a dynamic private consortium since 2007, it has obviously not been hit by the recessionary tide wave, yet. The guys from Newport Pagnell are even mounting an assault on Le Mans with a brace of Lola-Aston Martin LMP1 racers to try and repeat Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori’s historic win in a DBR1, on its fiftieth anniversary.
At center stage was a ‘technical showcase’ of Aston Martin’s ultra exclusive new sports car, the One-77. As the name implies, only seventy-seven will be built and are all spoken for already, at a price of about $1.5 million. Shown in public for the first time were a full model of the car and its complete rolling chassis, dubbed Number 1. The actual car will have ‘hand-rolled’ aluminum panels, in true Aston Martin tradition, but everything underneath will be thoroughly leading-edge.
One-77 project manager Chris Porritt says that his team studied “the most technologically exciting front-engined, rear-wheel drive cars in the world,” those from the famous German DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft) ‘touring car’ series and then applied the “principles and technology” to a “road car application.” This One-77 is thus built on a lightweight and “immensely rigid” carbon-fibre monocoque chassis that was designed jointly with Multimatic, a Toronto-based engineering firm recognized by Aston Martin as a “world leader in carbon composite technology.”
The new über-Aston’s double-wishbone suspension is a racing-style inboard design with pushrods like F1 cars and fully-adjustable Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers, a first for a road car. These are likely Multimatic which also happens to be among the world’s best in suspension and shock absorber design. The suspension on each One-77 will be tuned exactly to its owner’s wishes: “from settings suitable for the ultimate long-distance GT to a machine capable of conquering the Nürburgring Nordschleife (circuit).”
With a projected weight of 1,500 kg, a naturally-aspirated, Cosworth-tuned 7.3-litre V12 that will deliver more than 700 horsepower, standard carbon-ceramic brakes and Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres (in front/rear sizes of 255/35 ZR20 and 335/30 ZR20) the One-77 should undoubtedly be up to the task. Aston Martin predicts 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) sprints in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of more than 320 km/h (200 mph). Next in the One-77’s progressive disclosure is the interior, with the delivery of a first car before end of year.
Sharing the spotlight in Geneva were the new DBS Volante and V12 Vantage. The Volante is the drop-top version of the DBS. Its cloth top retracts under a tonneau cover in only 14 seconds at speeds up to 50 km/h. The standard 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system is designed to adjust the ‘sound stage’ to compensate for extra wind noise in open-top motoring.
Under the hood is a 6.0-litre, naturally-aspirated V12 that produces 510 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, coupled to a rear-mounted six-speed manual gearbox or the optional six-speed automatic with manual mode. The newest Volante should be good for a 0-100 km/h dash in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 307 km/h. Probably with the top up.
The third Aston Martin unveiled In Geneva gets the same V12 engine as the Volante in the closed shell of a coupé. The V12 Vantage is a more potent version of the V8 Vantage, which has been a huge sales hit since launch. It reportedly gets to 100 km/h a tenth of a second quicker than the DBS Volante but tops out at 305 km/h, a smidgeon less. Aston will only ever build a thousand copies of this V12 Vantage, which will ensure exclusivity.