Aston Martin Victor 2021 review

Ultra-rare, one-off Aston is an assault on all of the senses

Aston Martin Victor 2021 review
Gallery46
8.0/10Score

Things we like

  • Ultimate in bespoke and exclusive theatre
  • Track dynamics
  • V12 soundtrack

Not so much

  • Aston is only making one
  • If you have to ask how much...

I’m a passenger. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s have done their best, but there’s only so much water they can shift and currently it’s just not enough. Time slows and I sit it out, pondering the aquaplaning predicament, fortunate enough that I’m on a wide track and there’s nothing around me to hit.

My biggest concern is that this is about as much driving as I’ll be doing today. I’d had three slow sighting laps around Aston Martin’s Silverstone Stowe circuit to get some heat into the car’s engine and brakes and learning where the circuit goes, before the rainfall became biblical.

I’m not sure I’d be so happy to let anyone drive this car in these conditions, but Aston Martin’s people are remarkably relaxed. Arriving at the first corner is where those Michelins give up, the track is no longer there.

Instead, it’s fully submerged, while the vagaries of the weather mean the sunlight to the side of the dark cloud that’s just deposited all that water sees the circuit turn into what can only be described as a huge mirror. Fine in a series production Aston Martin, but the car I’m is unique.

A one-off plaything for an extremely lucky owner, likely to be secreted away in a collection and never seen again? Not so. Its owner has one of the keys for it back home in Belgium, but the car’s still in the UK and the spare key is currently residing in the slot in the centre of the dash.

You’ll need to know your Aston Martin history to get the name. It refers to Victor Gauntlett, Aston Martin’s Executive Chairman, who presided over the company during the ’70s and ’80s, when the iconic V8 Vantage was the company’s core model.

Motor Reviews Kyle Fortune Aston Martin Victor Photo Max Earey 076
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The Victor’s styling makes an unashamedly retrospective nod to those cars, though instead of having a V8 nestled under its bonnet there’s a V12. Specifically, a 7.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine that previously powered a One-77 prototype car, which also lends its carbonfibre chassis.

“We’re always looking for cool things to do and we had a low use One-77 prototype in storage that we couldn’t sell and we thought it would be good to do something with it,” admits Simon Lane, Director of Q and Special Project Sales at Aston Martin Lagonda. The decision was made to make something celebrating the V8 Vantage as well as the ’70s DBS V8 that was developed to race at the Le Mans 24 hours as the RHAM/1.

Some initial design work was done, Miles Nurnberger, Director of Design saying: “we don’t usually do retrospective design at Aston Martin, but it’s good to exercise designers’ minds and this was a fun project.” That Le Mans car, built by Robin Hamilton back in the ’70s with factory support from Aston Martin, was nicknamed ‘The Muncher’ because of its appetite for brakes, Nurnberger laughing that it also applied to transmissions, tyres and everything else.

The idea, as well as some early CAD design work and engineering feasibility studies were completed before Aston Martin started approaching its most loyal customers asking if they might be interested in such a car. One was, a Belgian gentleman, who’s got a collection of all the modern and limited-edition Aston Martins.

And he’s happy for a handful of people to drive it, which explains why earlier I found myself sliding over the broad sill with a brushed aluminium treadplate with Aston Martin 1 of 1 engraved within it. The interior, like the rest of the Victor, is unique but there’s little initial opportunity to really revel in all the beautiful detailing, with track time limited and the ominous clouds.

Motor Reviews Kyle Fortune Aston Martin Victor Photo Max Earey 028
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"The Aston Martin Victor feels every bit a properly involving driver’s car"

Pushing the key into its slot low in the centre console, before I’ve fully tightened the Schroth Racing four-point seatbelts, and pressing the starter button on the wheel, the V12’s starter motor whirs, before firing and settling into a surprisingly cultured idle. Cosworth, Aston Martin’s engine partner for the Valkyrie, was tasked with fettling the 7.3-litre V12, stripping it down to its block, before completely rebuilding and tuning it.

Its efforts see the power increase to 623kW and 821Nm. Like the engine, that prototype One-77 chassis was sent back to its original supplier, Multimatic, Lane admits, essentially rebuilding it as new.

Elements of Aston Martin’s Vulcan track-only car were utilised, it donating its inboard springs and dampers, visible through the rear window and there’s six stage settings, Aston’s chassis engineers having set it up to work on the road.

The centre-lock wheels are stunning lattice alloys of 20-inches, with 285/30 ZR20 front and 325/30 ZR20 rear tyres, behind which sit 380mm front and 360mm rear Brembo CCM-R carbon-ceramic discs grasped by six-piston calipers. Those brakes promise GT3 race car levels of retardation.

Indeed, despite the intended, eventual, road use that reference to race car braking potential isn’t the only one Aston Martin quotes, it stating too that computational fluid dynamic testing reveals the Victor’s unique body develops 60 per cent more downforce at 160km/h compared to one of its Vantage GT4 race cars.

Motor Reviews Kyle Fortune Aston Martin Victor Photo Max Earey 014
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Perhaps I need to be travelling faster to push those Michelins through all that water then. Aquaplaning moment over, the spot noted for the next lap, there’s the opportunity to stretch that V12 down the long central straight. There’s plenty of requirement for quick corrections with the steering, as puddles have the rear tyres losing purchase momentarily before the traction control does its best to gather things up.

It’s not intrusive, aiding progress rather than preventing it, the Victor proving surprisingly easy to drive, even in horrendous conditions.

The traction control, as well as the ABS, is variable via knobs on the steering wheel, the cut-top ‘wheel’, unsurprisingly looks like it’s been lifted entirely from a Vulcan, but with the buttons more tastefully bezelled with grey and the hand grips finished in green leather. There are no paddles behind it though, because unlike both the Vulcan and One-77, there’s a third pedal, and a walnut-topped manual gearstick situated in the transmission tunnel.

It’s that manual transmission that differentiates the Victor from any number of super and hypercars these days, it, admits Lane, being included from the start because it made the project a bit easier. More special, too, the gearbox itself being a Graziano six-speed item, which is mated to a racing clutch.

Aston Martin’s engineers have fiddled with the materials to make it work at road speeds. The pedal isn’t light, but neither is it so heavy to be obstructive, the sizeable gearknob travelling through its movement with precision and ease, with its mechanicals open to view down the open carbonfibre gullet that surrounds it.

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Grabbing it as the V12 devours another gear as it accelerates down the straight is an absolute joy, but it’s when you’re standing on the middle pedal and roll your foot off to blip the V12 to rev match for downshifts that the gearbox is so engaging. Such old-school thrills feel entirely right in a car with such a retro nod to its looks.

Fitting a paddle-shifted transmission would have been wrong, and would have completely changed the Victor’s character. And it’s brimming with it, from the incredible soundtrack of its naturally aspirated 7.3-litre V12, whose exhaust pipes exit to the side of where my backside’s situated, just in front of the rear wheels, and the gearbox that helps orchestrate it, to the playful nature of the chassis.

The driving position is low and focused, embraced by the hold of a beautifully upholstered lightweight carbonfibre seat, with those race harnesses securing me tightly, the pedal spacing is perfect and the gearstick high and near the steering wheel to minimise time with your hand off the wheel.

That’s proving useful with all the tiny, and sometimes sizeable, corrections required today, as the track dries and the speeds increase. The steering is light, it’s quick and accurate, though there’s not a great deal of lock should the rear axle try to overtake the front.

What’s quickly apparent is how immersive and hugely entertaining it all is, the combination of its mighty, immediate power from that glorious V12, the strength of the brakes and the pedal’s ample feel – and the racer’s squealing that accompanies their use – you really revel in the drive.

Motor Reviews Kyle Fortune Aston Martin Victor Photo Max Earey 144
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It’s adjustable, too, ridiculous as that might sound when applied to something so potent, but within a few laps the Victor reveals a playfulness, starting to move around me, doing so predictably, transitioning from grip to slip with ease. Entering a corner you need to be patient, some slight initial understeer neutralising before the rear can be coaxed out into a slide.

It’s not spiky or difficult doing so, quickly feeling entirely natural to exit each corner with the rears wheels doing some steering under power. All that makes exiting bends as entertaining as working your way down that six-speeder when arriving at them. Through the faster corners it feels planted and secure, despite the track never really properly drying out over the 20 or so laps we had around it.

It’s huge fun around a circuit. Whether that would translate to an enjoyable road car will be something only its owner will ascertain, but, at this juncture, it’s worth mentioning the caveats inherent in relation to the sheer length of the bonnet, as well as the extremities of its lower front bodywork, which skim close to saw-toothed kerbs.

There’s no recalcitrance from the transmission, the clutch being easy to use, likewise the gearbox. The engine’s mighty output is produced in such a linear fashion there are no concerns there either, with only the brakes squeal being something that might prove tiresome with road use.

Motor Reviews Kyle Fortune Aston Martin Victor Photo Max Earey 138
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It feels every bit a properly involving driver’s car, and despite the huge numbers associated with it, remarkably civilised, too. It’s a car which, I’d guess, the owner will enjoy more than any of their other limited and special edition Astons, primarily because the driving experience is so immersive and enjoyable.

A huge portion of that down to the fitment of its manual transmission. The owner could, justifiably, also just park it up and gawp at it, because it’s utterly captivating to look at, with the Muncher and V8 Vantage references mixed up perfectly in its bespoke Pentland Green and satin carbonfibre bodywork. Pictures don’t do the Victor’s beauty and proportions justice. This a car that needs to be seen in the metal to be really appreciated.

The same is true inside. Although the Victor a one-off, it’s been built to production car standards. It gets a sensational blend of traditional materials like solid walnut for the gearknob and dash insert, green leather and cashmere headlining with more technical surfaces in satin carbonfibre, anodised aluminium and polished titanium.

It proves to be an exquisitely detailed mix, with the overall result being absolutely stunning, though a conventional instrument cluster, instead of the configurable TFT screen would perhaps sit more suitably with the overall theme.

It’s a project that Aston Martin says is unlikely ever to be repeated, not least because it no longer has any spare One-77 chassis lying around. The Victor’s owner gets not just a unique car, but a genuinely incredible one.

Motor Reviews Kyle Fortune Aston Martin Victor Photo Max Earey 042
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Aston Martin Victor specs

Engine: 7312cc V12, DOHC, 48v
Power: 623kW
Torque: 821Nm
0-100km/h: 3.0sec (estimated)
Weight: 1630kg
Price: N/A

8.0/10Score

Things we like

  • Ultimate in bespoke and exclusive theatre
  • Track dynamics
  • V12 soundtrack

Not so much

  • Aston is only making one
  • If you have to ask how much...

 

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Kyle Fortune
Journalist

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