The As­ton Martin Valkyrie is en­gi­neer­ing imag­i­na­tion put to proper use


Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

IMAG­I­NA­TION IS an un­in­tended thread through­out this is­sue of MO­TOR. Our cover car, the wild Nis­san GT-R50, is a prod­uct of the Ital­ian imag­i­na­tion (mean­ing it’s come from the same place as ravi­oli), a prod­uct of pas­sion and lust. And at the other end of the imag­i­na­tion spec­trum, this is­sue we’ve ex­plained the new emis­sions test as­sail­ing en­gi­neers in Europe – ask­ing they in­vent means of meet­ing tar­gets that, on the sur­face, ap­pear im­pos­si­ble. But the car that has stirred up my own imag­i­na­tion this month is the As­ton Martin Valkyrie. Now, if I’m really hon­est, I don’t care much for cars like this that cost in­sane quan­ti­ties of money, ex­ist in tiny vol­umes and are des­tined to sit in the cor­ner of the hangar of some ob­scenely wealthy in­di­vid­ual, be­side a sim­i­larly half-seized Lam­borgh­ini Reven­ton and/or Bu­gatti Vey­ron L’Or Blanc. How­ever, early signs are that the Valkyrie will tran­scend the ir­rel­e­vance cre­ated by ex­clu­siv­ity and price and gen­uinely cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of car lovers in a way a car frankly hasn’t in way too long. I’m aware that we knew all this. We knew it was be­ing de­signed by Adrian Newey, who has penned 10 F1 world cham­pi­onship-win­ning cars. We knew it was to get a Cos­worth-en­gi­neered 6.5-litre V12 pro­duc­ing around 735kW via 11,000rpm (11,000rpm!) with­out a tur­bocharger in sight. But up un­til re­cently th­ese were just claims. The en­gine, at least, is now a re­al­ity – and the en­gi­neer­ing that’s gone into it is cap­ti­vat­ing. Never mind As­ton Martin has com­mis­sioned a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine for its 2019 hy­per­car, this is not just a gi­ant lump of very fast spin­ning V12. As well as get­ting as close to a 200kg weight tar­get as pos­si­ble, the V12 must be very clev­erly pack­aged to hud­dle in­side Newey’s un­apolo­get­i­cally aero-fo­cused Valkyrie de­sign – and to top it off, it’s an en­tirely stressed mem­ber link­ing tub to rear wheels, hav­ing to with­stand tor­sional forces never be­fore seen in a sports car. Also, they want it to last 100,000km. Next month we’ll delve deeper into this in­cred­i­ble en­gine and the en­gi­neer­ing in­volved, but ob­vi­ously from the out­set it’s fas­ci­nat­ing stuff. What really gets me, though, is the car­bon­fi­bre in­take plenum. The story goes that Cos­worth coated the pro­to­type with a gloss lac­quer – Newey saw it and asked why. They said it looks cool. He asked how much it weighed; 80g was the re­sponse. The weight gain was not worth it, he deemed, so he asked it be of­fered as an op­tion. Per­son­ally, I love an un­wa­ver­ing obe­di­ence to a phi­los­o­phy such as this and the pu­rity it pro­duces. The Valkyrie isn’t the only mind-bend­ing feat of imag­i­na­tion com­ing our way next year – there’s also the Mer­cedes-AMG One. A road car with an F1 en­gine, and an­other ma­chine that has me want­ing to read ar­ti­cles and watch videos the se­cond they’re avail­able, not car­ing for a mo­ment about the fact I’ll never own one, much less drive one, un­less I’m the luck­i­est mo­tor­ing hack you’ve ever known. To my mind, a lib­eral dose of imag­i­na­tion – in the en­gi­neer­ing and styling de­part­ments – is com­pul­sory stuff if you want to jack the price up by a fac­tor of 10. That’s not to call into ques­tion cars like the Nis­san GT-R50, or per­haps even some­thing like Porsche’s GT2 RS-based 935; I’m glad they ex­ist at all. But cre­ative styling and en­gi­neer­ing is what gets peo­ple hooked on cars – and the Valkyrie alone may suck in a new gen­er­a­tion yet.

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