been plenty of hype, but now we’ve finally got a look inside
the Aston Martin One-77 and heard that 750bhp engine. Pass the ear
Our tame racing driver helps kicks off Evans's CarFest motor show...
Even here, in a top-secret shed in the depths of Middle
England under the heavy heat of a summer night, faced with a resolutely solid,
squat hunk of hypercar, it’s tough to shake the sensation that the One-77 isn’t
Maybe it’s the cumulative
effect of the myriad sketches and computer renderings we’ve seen already. Maybe
it’s the One-77’s hyper-sculpted sheet metal, the folded surfaces that flip
from concave and convex, far closer to a vapourware show concept than anything
you could ever imagine reversing gingerly into a Tesco parking space. In short,
it’s all a bit other-wordly.
In a fat
boom of exhaust and a flicker of LED lights, the One-77 snaps awake. It’s real,
alive: the first and, for now, the only production Aston Martin One-77,
snarling and spitting unburned fuel from its exhaust with a ferocity that
punches it straight out the realm of supercar fantasy and straight into the
real world of, er, top-secret sheds in the depths of Middle England. For all
the sketches and renderings, this is the first time we’ve heard the big V12,
and the first time we’ve seen the One-77’s predictably opulent interior.
think that’s loud, you should have heard it a few days ago,” grins Chris
Porritt, the One-77 programme manager and the man who’s just fired the car into
slightly intimidating reality. “We’ve had to turn it down a bit. It kept
setting off all the car alarms in the area.”
the One-77 is bloody loud. Not a dirty, gutteral, raw chunter, but a clean,
mellifluous sound, sharper and more sonorous than the DBS.
balanced the intake system so it runs in perfect symmetry,” explains Porritt, a
gregarious Mancunian with a happy knack for translating complicated
engineering-speak into normal English. “Which reduces engine vibration and
means it produces a full order note, a far purer sound than, say, a big
than the headline figures - and let’s be honest, a million quid and 750bhp are
pretty spectacular headline figures - it’s this attention to detail, the
delicate elegance of the One-77’s engineering that really grabs the attention.
inspiration from DTM racers, the ultimate front-mid-engined supercars,” says
Porritt, levering the One-77’s bonnet upwards revealing an engine bay to send
engine geeks into raptures for the next decade. “Technologically, they’re extraordinary.
They’re front-engined F1 cars.”
One-77 might look several galaxies removed from the befinned Teutonic racing
saloons, but its front suspension set-up borrows heavily from DTM cars: a
horizontal push-rod system tucked efficiently under the front crash structure.
At high speed, it lowers the One-77 by 15mm to improve aerodynamics, which
stiffens the springs by around 15 per cent. It’s a neat, mechanical solution,
clever yet economical.
extravagance here too. Above the crank
- which sits 10mm lower than on the DBS, thanks to a new dry sump -
there’s masses of carbon fibre and, decadently, sheets and sheets of crinkled
gold leaf on the underside of the bonnet and surrounding the engine block.
“It’s the best heat-reflecting material around,” says Porritt. “It worked for
the McLaren F1. It works here.”
spirit of the F1 rings throughout the One-77: a fanatical dedication to the
finest materials and engineering, regardless of cost (and for a million quid,
you’d hope money would be no object). Each one of the bars on the front grille,
bonnet vents and rear diffuser is unique: individually moulded, explains
Porritt, to achieve the cleanest air-flow through and over the car’s body.
motors for the windscreen wipers are the same as those used in fighter planes,”
says Porritt, warming to his theme. “You can choose to wipe with just one
blade, or wipe one twice as quickly as the other. When we froze them for cold
weather testing, we discovered we could write a ‘judder’ into the program
logarithm so the wipers will scrape ice from the screen…”
Getting the picture yet? The One-77 isn’t an ultimate DBS with posh bits
on. It’s a showcase of just what the Aston engineers can do with a
near-unlimited budget and none of the constraints of the production line.
engine. Yes, it’s based on the 6.0-litre V12 from the DB9, but revised to the
point of unrecognisability: new cylinder heads, a bigger bore, new pistons and
a new crank shaft means it’s fully 60kg - almost 20 per cent - lighter. The
original target output was 700bhp, but Porritt is confident that it’ll put out
nearer 750bhp - and well over 500lb ft of torque - in final production guise.
Impressive numbers for a naturally aspirated engine, and good for a 0-60mph
time of around 3.5 seconds: genuine hypercar pace, but not - to make the
inevitable comparison - in quite the same league as the similarly priced
not trying to make a Veyron competitor,” sighs Porritt, in a tone indicating
he’s heard the comparison a few times before. “Bugatti had to make compromises to achieve the
Veyron’s speed - aesthetically, for one, and maybe on driver involvement. We’re
trying to do something different. Something Aston Martin.”
So what, exactly, is the One-77? Aston’s ultimate grand tourer? Or its ultimate Nürburgring weapon?
“It’s definitely a road car, not a track car,” says Chris. “It’s just… quite an extreme road car. Not quite as extreme in character as the V12 Vantage, though. We’re not aiming to break Nürburgring records. That said, it’s got to be safe at 190mph. We have to sacrifice a bit of low-speed comfort to make sure we’re stable at that speed…”
Enough talking. Deep in the top-secret tent, the One-77’s driver’s door hinges open. Slide into the driver’s seat. It’s low but not uncomfortably so, the sills narrow enough to clear easily. The bare carbon fibre of the tub wraps around you. It is moulded into shape from a few large sheets of the weave: an elegant, complicated process with no unsightly joins. It takes five men three weeks to make a single tub.
deep in the driver’s seat, not quite as low as, say, a Murcielago, but way back
over the rear wheels, a huge expanse of dash and bonnet stretching out before
you. The centre console is steeply raked towards the windscreen base, the dash
and a few switches the only recognisable Aston carry-overs. The two large
paddles control an automated manual gearbox, a reworked, toughened version of
the DB9’s transmission.
riot of materials and finishes going on in here: chrome and gold surfaces,
leather, brushed aluminium, and a bizarre, corrugated finish to the roof lining
that resembles ossified crate paper but turns out to be ‘laser-cut leather’.
Porritt explains that this One-77 demonstrates the full range of interior
materials to potential customers: completed cars will boast a more unified
cabin, created to the customer’s hopefully-more-exacting specification. You can
have all that gorgeous carbon fibre painted over. But why would you?
throttle and the engine engulfs you. Because the V12 sits so low, there was no
room to run the exhaust out under the body of the One-77, so the exhausts
channel to the back of the car through the carbon fibre side sills, literally
inches from the driver’s and passenger’s outer elbows. Which means you’re sat
within the chest cavity of the One-77, enveloped within the noise as the bypass
valves blast open at 3,750rpm.
we won’t drive the One-77 tonight. Not yet. We - and the 40-odd proles who have
already laid down a £200,000 deposit for their One-77 - will have to wait a
little longer. Our welcome outstayed, the One-77 coughs, snarls and slinks off
into the night: low, wide, undeniably spectacular. Worth a million quid? Maybe,
just maybe. The One-77 could be out of this world.
Words: Sam Philip
Photography: Ripley and Ripley