Aston Martin Vulcan
Aston Martin has had a roller coast history – from success to nigh on terminal failure on a number of occasions. The British based luxury sports car company appeared to have morphed into the 21st century when in 2003 they unveiled the stunning Ian Callum designed DB9 and the subsequent Vantage V8 just two years later.
Aston Martin is the only global luxury-auto producer that doesn’t belong to a larger manufacturing group. Following London-based investment firm ‘Investindustrial’s’ 2012 purchase of a 37.5 percent stake, the carmaker laid out plans in January to spend and incremental 500 million pounds ($785 million) on expansion over the next four years to apparently challenge Volkswagen AG’s Bentley and Fiat SpA’s Ferrari and Maserati.
Yet Aston Martin – despite its racing heritage and marketing gold connection with the James Bond franchise has failed to break the image of them being a smallish company that builds just three models of car. The most expensive, the Vanquish, has been perceived for years as technologically dated, ‘creaky and pointless. The DB9 has now had its day and the Vantage still looks visually impressive but is no platform to grow the business.
Concept cars like the Speedster are all very well and good, but the question of every Aston Martin devotee’s lips is – where are the real customer cars of the future?
This year Aston Martin revealed at the Geneva Motor Show their latest offering in the super-super car category – the Vulcan. This is a rear-wheel drive track only sports car that runs on a new 7 L V12 engine mounted on a carbon fibre chassis and body delivering 800 brake horsepower (600 kW. However the limited production run of just 24 and the price tag of $2.3 million will have few salivating,
Due to its relationship with Daimler, an SUV is in the pipeline however the expectations that this will help Aston Martin double its car sales by 2017 appear to be at best optimistic.
During the weekend of the British GP, Autosport broke a story that Aston Martin were set to team up with Red Bull Racing as a brand partner when the Milton Keynes team ditched Renault at the end of 2016.
The convoluted explanation was that due to Mercedes five per cent investment in Aston Martin, the F1 engine deal for Red Bull would see Mercedes recognised as the official engine supplier, however, Aston Martin would become a partner and have branding on the cars.
TJ13 has maintained since February this year that Red Bull Racing are developing a secret engine facility in building 9 at their Milton Keynes base.
Mercedes later denied the ‘engines to Red Bull’ story. “There’s not even a discussion. No discussion at all,” said Niki Lauda in the Silverstone paddock. “I haven’t heard anything from them and we never talked about it. I have breakfast every morning with Helmut [Marko] so I should know.
Of course Mercedes currently supply F1 engines to the maximum number of teams (4) allowed under the FIA regulations.
Lauda also confirmed there was some animosity between Mercedes and Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and Motorsport.com report a Mercedes source stating, “Red Bull have been asking [for engines] since February 2014 – they ring up every week! If you see how they’ve treated Renault they are not a good partner to have…”
The Aston Martin rumours began due to the company’s CEO, Andy Palmer, being present in the paddock at Silverstone last weekend.
He confirmed only that, “We [Aston martin] have to explore ways of getting Aston Martin’s name known around the world and we currently use the World Endurance Championship principally to do that”.
Palmer also admitted, “My job is to concentrate on turning Aston Martin around. If something drops into our lap and if suddenly those stars align, would I consider it? Yes.”
Given the racing heritage of Aston Martin, i is difficult to imagine what kind of value the company would get from its logo and name being present on the engine cover of a Formula One team, when in reality the engine is supplied by Mercedes Benz.
2+1,984,356,804.33r… does not equal 4.