Aston Martin’s one-off wonder wows with V12 power and extreme exclusivity.
There are no others. Even against the V12 Speedster (one of 88), the One-77 (limited to just 77 units), or the track-only Vulcan (of which only 24 were made), the Aston Martin Victor is a rare bird. When it comes to bragging rights, the Victor wins everything, and given just how difficult it was for Aston Martin to produce, it’s unlikely a car like this will ever be repeated.
David King, Aston Martin’s head of special vehicles, explains how the Victor came about in the matter-of-fact way that only engineers can.
“We had a low mileage One-77 prototype that was in storage and we started to have some ideas to build something from it,” King says. “We couldn’t do another One-77, because we’d committed only ever to build 77, so we started looking at ideas with design and did some engineering feasibility studies, and the Victor is the result.”
Modern Results, Past Inspiration
Aston Martin contacted one of its most loyal customers to see if they might be interested in being involved in such a project (they were, obviously), and before you know it, Aston Martin was showing the car to the public in late 2020 at the Hampton Court Palace Concours.
“We don’t usually do retro at Aston Martin, but this was fun,” Aston Martin Director of Design Miles Nurnberger said. The Victor name celebrates the company's former Executive Chairman Victor Gauntlett, who presided over the development of the Victor's visual inspiration, the 1977 V8 Vantage.
Nurnberger admits that designers also referenced the RHAM/1, a one-off Le Mans racer built by Robin Hamilton with a bit of Aston Martin factory help. Look up that car and you’ll find justification for the Victor’s more overt aerodynamic styling, be it the protruding front splitter under the assertively styled grille and cowled headlights or the strikingly upswept rear boattail. These, in combination with a largely flat underside and a huge rear diffuser, give the Victor 60 percent more downforce than Aston Martin’s current Vantage GT4 race car.
Those exaggerated elements of the Victor’s design don’t dominate, though, because the overall shape is cohesive, beautifully resolved and well-detailed. Yes, it’s retro, but the hand-built Q Division car achieves its backward nod masterfully. The proportions are incredible and the surfacing is precise, with an obsessive level of attention apparent everywhere. The cool rear lights are pinched from the Valkyrie parts shelf, the stunning centre-locked lattice alloy wheels hint at those of the RHAM/1, and the side-exiting exhausts link to Vulcan (as does the jewel like six-stage inboard pushrod suspension that’s visible through the rear window).
Opening the bonnet reveals the 7.3-litre naturally aspirated V12 nestling under a nest of carbon fibre, that like the One-77’s carbon fibre monocoque, was sent back to the original supplier to be returned in better-than-new condition. Cosworth, Aston Martin’s engine partner, stripped the engine to its block and completely rebuilt it to a unique specification. The result saw the One-77’s original 750 bhp and 553 pound-feet of torque swell to a more substantial 836 bhp and 614 lb-ft, reaching the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission as opposed to a paddle-shifted automated system.
Using parts from both the One-77 and the 2016 Vulcan track car, as well as some minor Valkyrie elements, the Victor can be prepared for road use. Aston Martin built it in such a way that should the owner, a Belgian gentleman apparently, wish to have it tested using the European Union’s Individual Vehicle Approval standards, he’ll be able to do so. The thought that this incredible machine might mix with traffic while wearing license plates is difficult to comprehend, but wonderful at the same time.
What’s more incredible is that before he’s collected it, he’s given permission to Aston Martin to allow a handful of us a drive in it. That’s why I find myself sliding over the wide sill, with its anodised aluminium plate worryingly reminding me of its one-of-one status, just as a dark cloud drops everything it has onto Silverstone’s Stowe circuit. That rain has turned the track’s surface into something more suitable for an off-shore powerboat is worrying. There’s standing water everywhere, and my limited knowledge of where the track actually goes is only exacerbated when the sun comes out and turns all that liquid into a giant mirror.
Still, opportunities to drive cars like this are unusual, and before someone at Aston Martin sees sense and starts suggesting it might be prudent not to take it out today, I push the ‘key’ home, and thumb the starter button on the race-ready steering wheel. That wheel is lifted from the Vulcan, but unlike its track-only relation, it’s been toned down, the various buttons all circled in a neat grey rather than the rainbow of colourful bezels for the Nomex gloved drivers of the Vulcan.
The interior echoes that classy restraint, with a glorious mix of traditional luxury and technical modernity thanks to a cashmere headliner; supple green leather; and solid walnut trim mixing with titanium, aluminium, and satin and high gloss carbon fibre. The details are playful and technical, with things like exposed linkage for the six-speed manual gearbox, knurled finishes on the three knobs under the central screen, and their cool metal surrounds. Nobody’s prepared to say how much it cost, and rightly so, but regardless, the result is worth it, because the Victor is a concept car in its looks, yet a production car in its execution.
An Exclusive Experience
That powerful V12 fires quickly off the starter, the sound emanating from the side pipes cultured at idle, with the traction control system set at level four and the engine on map one. There’s the opportunity to change these, but the engineer who’s just had a run in it suggests to leave it as is, and I’m not about to question him. That’s despite the change in conditions since he vacated the light, beautifully supportive bucket seat. Strapping myself in via four-point Schroth racing belts I push the blank-check nature of its build and its unique status to the back of my mind and pull out onto the circuit.
What’s immediately obvious is that there’s no recalcitrance from the transmission and its racing-derived clutch. Clearly, Aston Martin’s engineers worked on differing friction materials to give the Victor real-world drivability. The new clutch pedal itself is nicely weighted – firm but not heavy, and easy to modulate when manoeuvring at slow speeds out of the pit garage. That bodes well for the customer’s intended use, but remains a real surprise given the seriousness of the hardware that the Victor features.
A few exploratory laps using barely a third of the accelerator’s travel reveals that 836 bhp, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, and only traction (no stability) control makes for a busy drive. It’s surprisingly worry-free though, because while the plentiful standing water’s doing its best to upset the Victor’s trajectory, the car’s ability to communicate via the nicely weighted steering and seat of my pants exactly what’s happening allows me to cope with it.
There’s the odd moment where things get really interesting, the limited lock on the otherwise excellent steering seeing one harmless, slow speed spin as those tyres lose all hope of traction coming out of the tight hairpin. However, as I lap repeatedly the cumulative effect of its huge aero, as well as the wind that’s a constant at Silverstone, sees the Victor re-distribute the water to produce a drier, but still damp, line for me to follow.
The speed increases with confidence, revealing an ever more playful side to the Victor's nature. The Victor is a proper, engaging driver’s car, moving around in an exploitable, enjoyable way. A sizeable portion of that is due to the manual transmission – the Victor is the most powerful Aston Martin to be so equipped, an anomaly in a world used to big-power hypercars coming with two pedals only. There’s none of the detached ease of a paddle shift, the requirement being that you, the driver, match your revs when downshifting, and be similarly accurate when you’re racing up the ‘box.
Those downshifts prove easy, the firm brake and fine spacing of the AP Racing pedals providing the perfect platform to roll part of your foot off to blip the accelerator. Done properly, the V12’s immediate response sees the revs flare accordingly. It all feels so natural doing so, the gearstick similarly fine in its weighting and slick and quick in its action across its short travel up and down the ratios.The Victor is a glorious reminder that analogue is worth the effort, and a far more immersive and rewarding experience.
With grip levels increasing, entry and exit speeds are higher, and the Victor’s nose reveals a touch of entry understeer that’s quickly neutralised before the accelerator can be brought in, allowing us to enjoy the corner with the rear wheels dictating the line. It’s easy and biddable doing so, ridiculous as that might sound, and Aston Martin’s engineers worked extensively to allow it to cope with the demands of imperfect road conditions, which exactly describes the situation I’m currently experiencing.
The engine’s instrumental here, too.The linear power delivery and torque means there’s no spiky areas to negotiate in its powerband, allowing the engine and transmission to work in glorious unison. Not to forget the physicality and the enjoyable demands on you that only a manual transmission can bring.
The only real signs of the extreme nature of the Victor’s specification are the brakes, six-piston callipers affixed to the CMM-R Carbon Ceramic rotors providing prodigious, repeatable stopping power. But they’re vocal when doing so, though it’s something which some differing materials could potentially eradicate.
Gallery: Aston Martin Victor: First Drive Review
Rare In The Extreme
Time in this Aston Martin is limited, but with over 20 laps at everything from early tip-toed discovery to eventual shift-at-redline speeds, the Victor has underlined that this one-of-one Aston Martin isn’t a mere trinket, but instead a very serious driver’s machine that’s utterly captivating both to look at and to drive. This beautifully executed custom is a car that both visually and viscerally celebrates a golden era of powerful, uncomplicated cars that involved and engaged the pilot, when driving was something to be really enjoyed. As such, a car like the Aston Martin Victor is unlikely to be repeated.
Aston Martin Victor