Wednesday March 8, 2017
By Richard Bosselman
IS this the car fit for a Kiwi race track magnate and lolly king?
Aston Martin’s incredible hypercar, co-developed with the Red Bull Racing team, has been revealed in virtual turn-key form at the Geneva motor show.
Along with the glam unveiling comes reaffirmation that first dib clients for what has now been officially named Valkyrie will be those brand fans who have already invested into its previous performance opus, the Aston Martin Vulcan.
That select group includes Scotland-born Tony Quinn, the motor-racing mad multi-millionaire who after having made his considerable fortune in Australia now largely calls New Zealand home, with a residence near the Highlands Motorsport Park track, a sister circuit to the Hampton Downs facility an hour south of Auckland.
His family also operates a sweet-making business, bought after they divested interest in the fortune-making pet food empire they created in Australia.
Quinn has previously expressed ‘yeah-nah-maybe’ thinking in respect to owning a Valkyrie.
That admission – and, some might say, astounding ambivalence - toward a car whose limited build run of 150 units has already been massively over-subscribed came after what has, until the name was announced yesterday, has been called the AM-RB 001 was revealed on July 7 last year.
As one of the world’s 24 Vulcan owners, he has preferred status for a machine co-shaped by the world’s most successful F1 designer of the modern era, Adrian Newey. And maybe, now that’s it fully out in the open, in all its exotic materials’ glory, he might want to show more enthusiasm.
The Valkyrie will be powered by a naturally-aspirated V12 engine designed by racing specialists Cosworth, supported by an electric motor to create a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio.
Whereas the Vulcan is purely for the track, Valkyrie is designed to be used on the road – notwithstanding that, of the 150 units to be built, 25 will be outfitted as track specials. Quinn has suggested that, if he does buy one – and he has a few months yet to decide - it’ll be in road tune, though he admits that won’t make it any easier to keep out of trouble if he did take it for a drive.
Fair enough. Valkyrie is intended to be the ultimate road car, competing against the likes of the Ferrari LaFerrari, Porsche 918 Spyder and McLaren P1 in a hypercar battle. The company's stated goal is for the track-only version to be as quick as a Le Mans prototype.
Although final performance figures and pricing has yet to be announced, it will also be way faster and more expensive than the 260kmh, $4.5 million Vulcan.
Meantime, Quinn’s Vulcan – the sole example in the Southern Hemisphere – has been out and about of late. A car that mainly resides at Highlands appears now to be on a tour of Australia, with display at big motor-racing events; most recently last weekend’s Clipsal 500 at Adelaide.
When Vulcan arrived 18 months ago, Aston Martin went big espousing the incredible performance, amazing technology and exotic construction as being world-leading.
But it did so with two fingers behind its back, knowing that something under development within the brand’s skunkworks was set to take this crown: A car some are predicting will be known as the greatest car Aston Martin will ever make.
Anyone with knowledge of their ancient gods will know Vulcan as the Roman god of fire. Valkyrie, on the other hand, comes from Norse mythology. It literally means “chooser of the slain.” In battle, valkyries are Odin’s handmaidens who chose which warriors live and die and bring some of the fallen to the afterlife in Odin’s Valhalla.
“This is about female power. It’s being chosen. It’s the ultimate honour,” Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s chief creative officer, said this week. “That’s the name we’ve decided to give to the 001.”
The first question for the marketing team was whether the AM-RB 001 should even have a V-name. These days, the company has two naming conventions: Vs and alphanumerics and there was a lot of support for maintaining the initial tag.
After all, another million-dollar Aston — the One-77 — kept its internal prototype name after it became part of the customer lexicon. But in the end, Valkyrie had to have a V because those are the nameplates given to Aston’s highest performance cars.
Various members of the company’s marketing and executive teams sat around in conference rooms, filling whiteboards with possible names; the shortlist came down to three – Valkyrie and two others that Reichman will not disclose.