When factory Aston Martin driver Darren Turner returns (having turned in several laps in the 1:52s, which is a decent race pace for a GT3 category racer), he seems pretty happy. “It’s the fundamentals we’re looking at today,” he explains. “The downshift, the upshift — they’re not quite on par with the race car’s, but they’re getting close. And that’s me being really picky.” It might be the early days, but Vulcan’s potential pace is clear to see, according to Turner: “It has more horsepower than a GT3 car, it’s stronger due to the carbon monocoque, and we’re running more downforce. Everything is here for this car to be significantly quicker than the best GT3 car out there. You can see it on the stopwatch. Already we’re there or thereabouts, and we’re running on old tires.”
Throughout the day the car gets quicker, and problems are ironed out. Some of the Vulcan’s future owners buzz in on helicopters — of course — and have their minds blown by Turner’s smooth style and the Vulcan’s vast corner speed. They want to know they’ve spent their $2.34 million (plus local taxes) wisely, and they all seem to go away pretty damn happy. Here’s what you need to know about the Vulcan should you be thinking about putting down a deposit. There are a few left, but you’d better be quick.
1. The Aston Martin Vulcan was born out of a ‘One-77 R’ programme.
2. It had the best mission statement you’ll ever hear.
3. It’s so much more than a re-bodied One-77.
Although the carbon tub and inboard suspension borrows heavily from the beautiful One-77 road car, almost nothing is shared. The Multimatic-supplied tub is heavily modified, the front pushrod suspension runs fore and aft rather than laterally to save weight and improve cooling to the engine, there are new Spool dampers (also from Multimatic), and a newly developed carbon-ceramic racing brake from Brembo. The Vulcan weighs around 2,866 pounds as compared to the 3,593 pounds of One-77.
Even the engine, which was already pretty good, is completely different. The One-77 ran a 7.3-liter V-12 with variable valve timing developed by Cosworth. The Vulcan sticks to the fixed cam engine used by Aston Martin in their GT3 racing programme. Capacity is up from 6.0-liter to 7.0-liters and, without the restrictors used to balance performance in GT3 and GTE racing, it’s good for “around 820 to 830 hp.” The engine drives through an Xtrac six-speed racing gearbox, again shared with the GT3 car. Torque is limited in first and second gears.
4. The Aston Martin Vulcan produces more downforce than a GT3 racing car.
Aston Martin set aggressive targets for Vulcan but claims to have exceeded them all. It’s clear there was some tension between the engineering and design teams, but the finished shape has more than satisfied both. “At 200 mph it makes 1,360 kg [3,000 pounds] of downforce, so technically at Vmax you could drive it upside down,” says Dunn.
5. Anyone could drive it.
OK, maybe not everyone, as there’s the small matter of the $2.34 million asking price. But the Aston Martin Vulcan is designed to be easy to drive. That mighty engine, which revs to 8,000 rpm, will have three power settings so owners can ease themselves in to the experience. The lowest will produce around 550 hp, the next around 650 hp, and then the full 820 to 830 hp. There is also an 11-stage traction control system and seven-stage ABS program.
6. It’s built by a division called Q Advanced Engineering team. Really.
The Vulcan won’t be built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon Headquarters but at a new Q Advanced Engineering facility in Wellesbourne, which is around 7.5 miles away. “There will be 20 guys building them,” explains Fraser Dunn. “From receiving the tub and body from Multimatic, we’re working on a three-week build, and they’ll be batch built. So one of the things that will be awesome is that when we shake down the cars at Silverstone, we’ll do whole batches of four or five cars at a time. It should sound pretty good!”
7. The Aston Martin Vulcan looks destined to race.
“I’d say there’s a good probability it’ll race,” says David King. “More than one customer would like to do it, so I think we’ll find a way.” The only problem is where to do it and how to ensure the Vulcan doesn’t get mugged by a BMW Z4 or Audi R8. Expect to see the Vulcan at the Nurburgring some time in 2016.
8. Even if you can’t afford an Aston Martin Vulcan, you should really get a ride in one.
The noises and smells swirling around the outside of the Vulcan might be redolent of endurance racers, but climbing inside it’s something very different. You have to fold yourself up and squeeze past a rollcage, but once you’ve slumped into the carbon-shelled seat, you find extraordinary design, materials, and finish. The sills are bare carbon with a beautifully uniform weave, the sculptural dash is trimmed with exquisite skill, and the steering wheel is busy with various controls just like a racer’s but is a vision of carbon and Alcantara perfection.