Peter Warner had come from the UK in October to drive The 24 HRS of Lemons at The Autobahn in Joliet with Martin Hancock, Patrick Bowling and Tim Roberts.
Now our “other man in London”, he was nice enough to write the following when he got home:
Having returned from the 24 hrs of LeMons at the Autobahn Country Club race last week I was feeling rather flat. English Autumn lay ahead with nothing to look forward to but rain, cold and damp.
What I’d forgotten was my long standing invitation to visit the Aston Martin factory (AUTHOR’S NOTE–“HOW THE F**K- DO YOU FORGET THAT?), located in The Midlands of England. I set off in darkness for the two hour drive and arrived in crisp sunshine.
The AM facility sits very close to those of Jaguar and Land Rover, reflecting its relatively brief period of Ford ownership. Ultra modern and a very long way from the pre DB7 era.
The visit was broken into three separate parts –
- An introduction to the new Aston Martin 1-77 from a design perspective
- A tour of the factory
Aston Martin Factory
I was to drive two cars – both V12 6.0 litre. Firstly the Vanquish – a recent model similar in looks to the DBS but positioned slightly below, and definitely a GT rather than an out and out sports car. It was strangely uninvolving to steer and feel beneath you but never the less a beautiful car with a great sound. My AM representative was doing his best to extol the virtues but discreetly picked up on my sense of being underwhelmed. It was with relief then that the 4 door Rapide (you call it a sedan?) was a revelation. It rode, steered and went like no other car with 4 doors – think Panamera that drives nicely!
£1.4 million or around $2.1 million – that’s a lot of money but it does look amazing in the flesh – less Wacky Races than in pictures. 7.3 litre V12 and inboard F1 style suspension. You can have it in any colour inside and out. Six are unsold of the 77 to be built. One guy in the US bought 10 – gifts for good friends on his retirement! Another bought two – one to hang on the wall and one to drive.
As ever with these things a list of astounding facts are thrown at you so I’ll try and recall some of them:
– The leather is sourced from as far north in Scotland as possible as the breed of unfortunate cattle (6 for each car) suffer less insect bites there so less imperfections.
Fat Where It’s Suppose To Be
– All leather is signed inside in case any has to be repaired. Each seamstress has her own signature stitching so she gets to make any matching repair.
- It takes 200 hours to build each car
- Aston Martin have only made 55,000 cars in their total history. This compares with the Bentley Continental GT which has sold over 50,000 to date.
- Each car is subjected to 2,700 litres of water per minute to test its resistance to a British winter. This includes convertibles.
- an Aston Martin convertible is more rigid than a Porsche 911 coupe.
Which one would I have? Maybe the Vantage V12 but they’d not let me drive it…….
Thanks Pete, and you’ll be hearing more from him soon!