One reason it’s doing them is because Aston Martin’s boss, Andy Palmer, is rather keen to see his company making money – which would be something of a novelty – and the cashflow that the special projects bring in is the kind that is well worth having. The other reason is that… well, just look at it and imagine what it does for Aston’s status as a maker of sports cars.
There will be 24 of these Vulcans, each priced at £1.5 million plus local taxes. And although £36m wouldn’t cover Audi’s annual biscuit budget, it’s the kind of revenue that’s useful to a company the size of Aston Martin. There will be ongoing revenue, too. All 24 cars are sold (there were 24 because of Aston’s successful history at the Le Mans 24 Hours), but Aston will continue to look after most of them. It’ll maintain and service them, prepare them for track use and run a series of events every year where owners can come and drive, be tutored and so on. Aston will train your technician if you’re so inclined, so you can take your Vulcan home, or put it on a plinth and look at it.
There are reasons why you might do that. I’m not convinced the Vulcan is a beautiful car, but I’m not sure it was meant to be. It is a striking one and, better than that, is exquisitely finished, inside and out. There is a certain race-car feel to the Vulcan, which I’ll come to in a moment, but in terms of its finish – each rear light is like 100 plastic lollipop sticks carefully inserted into the back of the car – it has all the hallmarks of a concept car.
The same is true inside, where what could easily feel raw and exposed instead feels like something a film model maker would put together, with fabulously crafted finishes and material choices. The positioning of the controls, though, could only have been done in close conjunction with a racing driver.
That stands to reason, I suppose. If you’re going to make a track car – and the Vulcan is a track car only for now – you might as well ask racing drivers to help you out. So Aston Le Mans driver Darren Turner and GT3 racers Peter Dumbreck and Joe Osborne have all spent serious time in the Vulcan during its development, and it shows.
The construction, then. It’s pretty racy. The carbonfibre tub is a development of the one that featured in the One-77. By all accounts, the One-77 wasn’t the world’s greatest car to drive (that Aston didn’t want car magazines to drive it was a giveaway) but there wasn’t much wrong with the carbonfibre tub. So there are similarities here, but given that there was no need to keep it the same, it hasn’t been, although there’s still an integrated roll cage.
From the front and rear are hung aluminium subframes. At the very front, it supports a shedload of radiators beneath an enormous carbonfibre bonnet, and behind that – and behind the axle line, significantly – is one of the world’s largest, greatest naturally aspirated V12 engines.