Aston and Red Bull plan ‘world’s fastest car’ AM-RB 001 HYPERCAR
COLLABORATION WITH RED BULL F1 DESIGNER WILL SET NEW BENCHMARKS FOR ROAD CAR PERFORMANCE
Words Richard Meaden / Photography AML / #Red-Bull
Aston Martin is building a hypercar. Not a track-only follow-up to the Vulcan, but a fully fledged road-legal machine that promises to set stratospheric new performance benchmarks. The project, known internally as Nebula, is the first fruit of the partnership between Aston Martin and the #Red-Bull-F1
Formula 1 team. Hard information remains sketchy, but, from what we’ve been told and whispers we’ve heard, all indications are that it will stand alongside the McLaren F1 – itself built by an F1 team and conceived by Gordon Murray – as an era-defining car and a truly remarkable Aston Martin.
Led by Red Bull’s genius designer, Adrian Newey (a long-time Aston owner), the AM-RB 001 will be a rolling thesis in cutting-edge aerodynamics and packaging. The challenge for Aston Martin’s director of design, Marek Reichman, will be to marry this purity of function with a form that retains the essence of Aston Martin. This is a mouthwatering prospect, but, such are the claims made about the AM-RB 001’s performance, it’s hard to imagine exactly what the car will look like.
Clues are out there, though, for both Red Bull and Aston Martin have indulged flights of fantasy in the pixelated world of the PlayStation game, Gran Turismo. First, #Adrian-Newey
created his and Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamouchi’s vision of the ultimate no-limits racing car with the X2010 (pictured over the page).
Then Aston’s Martin’s DP100 Vision Gran Turismo concept (below) celebrated the marque’s centenary by looking to the future. It’s not so far-fetched to imagine both virtual cars influencing the design and technology of the AM-RB 001.
According to Aston, the car will be capable of lapping a circuit at the pace of a modern F1 car, yet be perfectly useable on the road and, more crucially, perfectly drivable by mere mortals. No road car has ever managed to strike this balance, or come close to approaching such rarefied lap times, yet the claims are serious.
Newey’s involvement means the car will generate unprecedented levels of downforce, most likely provided by equally unprecedented reliance on underfloor aerodynamics so that the bodywork remains clean for Reichman to achieve the smooth, fluid surfaces for which modern Astons are renowned. Little is known about the powertrain, but some kind of hybrid system is likely, with technology taken from today’s F1 cars.
Whether the engine will be related to Aston’s new twin-turbo V12 is unknown, but given the inevitable weight and packaging constraints – and the likely inclusion of some kind of KERS – it’s unlikely the current production motor will be suitable. Could it be a pair of F1-spec V6 turbos? Who knows? But it’s fun to speculate. Likewise it’s fun to wonder at a target weight. The McLaren F1 weighs just 1100kg. It’s hard to imagine Newey would want to build something heavier than the 25-year-old icon. And if you assume the car will have in the region of 1000bhp, you don’t need to be a mathematician to deduce the power-to-weight ratio will rival that of a stick of dynamite.
A full-scale model of the car is due to make its public debut later this summer. Aston Martin is already registering statements of interest. Pricing is anyone’s guess, but somewhere in the region of £2m seems probable. What we do know is that it’s the most intriguing and eagerly awaited piece of exotica in a generation.
…while Vulcan goes road-legal
Long before we see the new Aston/ Red Bull hypercar, the extreme and so far track-only Vulcan is set to become the fastest road-legal Aston Martin yet, thanks to a collaboration with the RML Group. This extraordinary project was born when a small group of customers told Aston Martin they’d love to drive their Vulcans on the road. Late last year, the RML Group – the Northants-based motorsport and engineering company owned and run by Ray Mallock – was asked to develop a conversion kit to allow road registration under UK low-volume type approval rules, which also cover EU member states and and certain other markets.
Aston’s CEO Andy Palmer worked extensively with RML during his tenure at Nissan on highly-specialised projects such as the Juke R (a small ‘crossover’ with GT-R underpinnings) and the ZEOD RC hybrid Le Mans racer, so he knew their expertise with low-volume manufacturing and engineering solutions to complex concepts. This ingenuity has been put to the test with the Vulcan road car project, perhaps more so than anyone envisaged. ‘It’s actually a huge undertaking to take a Vulcan and then convert it into a road car that satisfies legislation and meets the expectations of demanding customers,’ explains Michael Mallock. ‘Certainly it requires a much bigger package of work than you’d expect!’
While the aim was very much to make a road-legal Vulcan rather than redevelop it into a full road car, the list of changes is vast. Most noticeable will be additional headlights, set much higher, but in fact every panel is subtly changed to meet requirements. There are new side mirrors, the ride height will be changed for the sake of usability with revised springs and dampers, there’s a new exhaust system, additional engine cooling, changes to the brakes to make them easier to use at road speeds… the list goes on.
While the Vulcan will remain fiercely uncompromising, the RML Group has looked at every part of the package with road use in mind. There will be an electric lifting system to get over speed bumps, and the front splitter and rear diffuser are tweaked to improve clearance, too. There will be more steering lock (necessitating new front uprights), a new central locking alarm/immobiliser, and the required handbrake and E-marked glass.
Despite the long list, the conversion will be reversible and was intended to keep the character of the Vulcan intact. Power outputs remain exactly the same in all three modes, so up to 820bhp. The conversion cost hasn’t been confirmed, but let’s just say you could buy a V8 Vantage for weekends and a Rapide S for family duties and have change left over.
Above. Changes to make #Aston-Martin-Vulcan
road-legal (and useable) will include headlights and increased ride-height.
Left and above. F1 designer Newey heads the engineering team. #Red-Bull-X2010
concept holds more clues to #AM-RB
Top and above. ‘Teaser’ graphic (top) is all Aston Martin has officially released. DP100 concept from Gran Turismo may provide another clue.