Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review of the first One-77

From Classic and Performance Car

This is a genuinely all-new supercar, not a re-face of an existing model. Just 77 will be built (why 77? Because 50 were needed to break even, 100 seemed too many, and 77 is a nice-looking number according to design director Marek Reichman), and each one will cost £1.1 million plus local taxes and optional extras.

Yes, that’s £1.1 million, and if that price had been for, say, a DBS-on-steroids, then alarm bells would be ringing. But instead, Aston Martin seems to have delivered possibly its greatest model ever; highly exclusive, uniquely engineered, kitted out with the most powerful normally-aspirated engine yet fitted to a production car and capable of 220mph-plus.

The basis for the One-77 is an all-new carbon fibre and extruded aluminium body tub, which takes three weeks and 3500 separate sections of carbon fibre to produce. The end result moves carbon fibre construction to a new level, with exquisite finishing – crucial, because much of it is exposed inside the cabin for maximum weight saving.

The V12 engine sits behind the front wheel line, lower and further back than in the other V12-powered Astons, to produce a front mid-engined layout with 50:50 weight distribution. A magnesium torque tube and carbon fibre propshaft transfer power to the rear-mounted six-speed transaxle.

Aston chief executive Dr Ulrich Bez specified that the new supercar should deliver 750bhp and 750Nm of torque; quite a step up from the V12 Vantage’s and DBS’s 510bhp and the DB9’s 470bhp. Cosworth were given the job, and really have delivered, giving the V12 a comprehensive re-work that includes an all-new cylinder head design, with different combustion chambers, more upright valve angles, repositioned camshafts to act directly on the cams rather than via operating fingers, variable inlet camshaft timing and a new intake system. It’s also been converted to dry sump, to allow the engine to sit lower.

The suspension has had to be specially designed to cater for the required low lines, taking a leaf from the German DTM race cars, with horizontally mounted coil-over-dampers front and rear, operated by bellcranks.

Uniquely in the current market, the carbon fibre tub is clothed in aluminium panels, handbuilt to allow a more sculptured shape – the rear panel is one-piece, unspoilt by shut lines (the rear window serves as the hatch), while the shape of the front wing tops is wonderfully complex and the way the door mirrors seem to have been drawn out of the door skin is exquisite.

Inside, there are countless trim options, all based around the basic premise of exposed lacquered carbon fibre and machined billet aluminium, but still deeply luxurious thanks to the use of ten hides, hand-cut into over 100 pieces and stitched together within the new production facility.

So far, 60 One-77s have been sold, and there are said to be enough serious enquiries to more than cover the remaining 17. It will take until the end of 2011 to build all of them; what comes next for the One-77’s exquisite new building seems to be anyone’s guess at the moment, but something special seems likely. Meanwhile, much of the One-77’s technology will gradually filter down to the rest of the range; starting, rather prosaically, with the new blade windscreen wipers. It’s not all glamour…

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