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Come on feel the noise

  1. There’s
    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
     defenders…

  2. 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
    quite real.

    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. 

  3. 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.

    “If you
    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.”

  4. Still,
    the One-77 is bloody loud. Not a dirty, gutteral, raw chunter, but a clean,
    mellifluous sound, sharper and more sonorous than the DBS.

    “We
    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
    American V8.”

    Even more
    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.

  5. “We took
    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.”

    The sleek
    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.

  6. There’s
    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.”

    The
    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. 

  7. “The
    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. 

  8. Take the
    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
    Bugatti Veyron.

    “We’re
    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.”

  9. 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.

  10. You sit
    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.

    There’s a
    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?

  11. Blip the
    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.

    Sadly
    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  

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