The Aston Martin Vulcan

The rulebook is the lifetime bane of any race car designer, and it’s a sure bet that millions of engineers out there spend their quiet moments dreaming about what might be possible if they just had their chance. And none more so than in international GT3 racing, where rules are carefully created and enforced to create a level playing field and some relation to the cars you can buy in the showroom. ‘You mean, we have to use this heavy chassis as a base?’… and… ‘we have to fit a restrictor that small?’

What you see here is the Aston Martin Vulcan – a supercar built with no intention of road use, and a racecar built to no particular rule book. Reality be damned. Aston Martin have set out to build their version of the ultimate track car, and their designers must surely have reveled in the only restriction being what can physically be manufactured. There were only 24 built, value is several million dollars and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere is owned by Tony Quinn, who brought it with him to Adelaide for the Clipsal 500 event.

The 7.0 V12 makes 600kw, the chassis is a carbon fiber monocoque and the pushrod suspension is straight out of the racecar textbook. In the upper eschelon of elite supercars none of this is terribly revolutionary (you could have four or five McLaren 650S’ with similar technical spec for the cost of it), which is why I’d never paid a huge amount of attention to the Vulcan. Cool, yes. Revolutionary and relevant? I didn’t think so.

But then I saw it up close. This isn’t a car – this is a piece of contemporary sculpture deserving of nothing less than a prime place in the Tate Modern. Automotive or otherwise, this is the most impressive and incredible piece of Industrial Design that I think I’ve ever seen. It’s stunning.

You look over the car and you can’t find a single element that’s carryover. Everything is bespoke and designed to such a level that it’s almost a shame only 24 will be made.

And the quality is next level. Remember, this isn’t a series production vehicle. This is a hand built track car, and it is perfect. The fit and finish, the gaps, the surface tension of the individual components. Just look at those carbon dash panels – not only do the panels themselves fit perfectly, but even the weave of the carbon runs true and flows with the hard lines of the dash.

You ask yourself how could a car ever cost four million dollars, but when you start to drill down to the details it becomes pretty apparent pretty quickly. Big car companies amortize these sorts of development costs over hundreds of thousands of cars, or even just thousands of cars in the case of Ferrari and McLaren. But when the run is only 24 cars and the parts are bespoke, the costs add up pretty quickly.

This is a car that tugs at the heartstrings and appeals to the emotions. I’m sure you could have 3/4 of the experience in something that costs 1/4 of the price, but that’s not the point. It’s in appreciating a work of art, in owning something truly special. In being able to take it out to events like the Clipsal 500 and take joy from simply showing it to people and letting them appreciate it.

It became the biggest surprise and arguably one of the top highlights from the Clipsal 500 weekend. Very impressive.

Words and photos by Andrew Coles.

 

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