Aston Martin One-77: The justification's in the details

Aston Martin One-77 at Galpin Motors - Click above for high-res image gallery

£1.25 million. That's Brit-speak for $1,800,000, give or take. A staggering amount of money. More than a Bugatti Veyron, more than a Lamborghini Reventón. Quite simply the most expensive new car, well, ever. Er, well, it would have been if not for the $2.2 million Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport. And for what? Before last night, we would have said nearly two million smackeroos gets you a widened DB9 with a large 7.3-liter V-12. Yes, there will be only seventy-seven hand built Aston Martin One-77s made, but so what? That's just way too much lucre, filthy or otherwise.

Aston Martin was good enough to invite us down to a post-Pebble Beach showing of its new hypercar in the impressive vault room at Los Angeles' Galpin Motors. Curtains circled the display, the car was draped with a cloth and many of the city's wealthiest citizens (most had previously purchased an Aston Martin from Galpin) enjoyed gratis cocktails mit snacks.

Before the covers came off they fired up and then revved the engine. Whoa. This was different. This was something special. The massive motor rapidly climbed through the range not like a normal big-bore V12, but more like an F1 car. Totally impressive. Finally the big Aston was revealed, and you know, it was still a nice looking car, but massively overpriced. And then they popped the hood.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

Our jaws hit the floor. This was no ordinary car, let alone ordinary Aston Martin. The first piece of candy that grabs your eyes are the F1-style inboard push-rod activated dampers. Not only do they greatly reduce unsprung weight, but there are adjustments for compression, rebound and another adjuster for the gas bypass reservoir. Pretty nifty. You next notice that the intake manifolds and valve covers are made from carbon fiber. But wait a second, why are the intake manifolds plumbed into the frame?

That's right. Those big vertical slits on either side of the gaping Aston Martin signature catfish grill are actually carbon fiber air inlets that take cold air in through the car's carbon fiber structure and then feed it to the engine. Having a car's frame so intimately tied into the engine is very, very novel. After we wrapped our minds around that, we spotted the ceramic-coated headers made from a fancy aluminum alloy (no one from Aston could remember the name of the material, so let's just assume unobtainium). Gorgeous, and each bundle of white snakes gets reduced down to one of four exhausts. We liked that the four exhaust tips are actually angled down towards the ground, a nice change of pace from the now ubiquitous rear-pointing quad pipes found on supercars (and wannabe supercars) everywhere.

Back to the engine, you also notice an awful lot of McLaren F1-style heat shielding gold foil. In fact, the top of the belly pan (i.e. the bottom of the engine compartment) is entirely covered in gold foil. Real gold, in case you're wondering. The bottom of the hood is also plastered with several swaths of the stuff. So, from top to bottom you get gold, carbon fiber, gold, aluminum then more gold. Pretty impressive. The motor begins life as an aluminum 6.0-liter DBS V12 before being embiggened to 7.3-liters (those present weren't sure if it was through boring and/or stroking). Want more? Legendary Cosworth handles most of the tweaking.

As for power, Aston Martin was a little light on details, but here's what we got out of them. The engine was just dyno'd in England at 740 crank horsepower. That's not the official number, as final tuning hasn't happened, but for a naturally aspirated mill, yowza. As for torque, we couldn't get a straight answer besides the usual British "adequate" refrain, but we did sneak a peak at some documentation sitting off in a corner and it said 553 lb-ft of the stuff. That's as much as a VW twin-turbo TDI V10 – the same motor Clarkson used to tow a 747. Keep in mind that this document stated the horsepower at 700, not the 740 hp they just spun on the dyno. For comparison's sake, the 6.5-liter V12 in the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce makes "just" 487 lb-ft of twist. And the ragingist of all bulls hits 60 mph in 3.0 seconds. Translation: the One-77 is going to be a monster.

Especially as it only weighs 3,308 pounds. How so light? Almost every single structural component is built from magical carbon fiber, including the passenger tub. The doors are aluminum skinned carbon fiber. The roof is carbon fiber and the rest of the body (save the uppy-downy carbon fiber wing) is aluminum. But there's a softer side, too. Specifically the opulent interior, comprised of not just metal and regular leather but very thick hand-stitched saddle-leather inserts. We hope that you all are lucky enough to one day sit in a One-77, just to ogle the door pulls. After crawling over, under and inside the car, in our estimation the Aston Martin One-77 is not only worth every shilling, but it's a future Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Best of Show.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

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