The Aston Martin Valkyrie is engineering imagination put to proper use
ITS 11,000RPM V12 NOW A REALITY, IT’S BEEN TOO LONG SINCE I’VE FELT CAPTIVATION FOR A NEW CAR LIKE I HAVE THE ASTON VALKYRIE
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.