Aston Martin Valkyrie moves closer to reality
Aston Martin has shown what its new hypercar will look like - almost.
A near-production version of the Valkyrie has recently been unveiled, and by near we hear about 95 per cent close to reality.
Said to cost US$3.2 million (NZ$4.35m), the 1000 hp-plus two-seater is still being tweaked for aerodynamic downforce and some of its design bits.
Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer told Britain's venerable Autocar magazine that the hypercar will "lap Silverstone as fast as an F1 car," which could equate to up to 4000 pounds of downforce at top speed.
Should be fun to see what it will do when it's done. Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing will make 150 cars starting late next year. Oh, and it will be street-legal.
To maximise interior space the seats are mounted directly to the tub, with occupants adopting a reclined "feet-up" position reminiscent of today's Formula One and Le Mans Prototype race cars.
The design team were keen to keep distractions to a minimum and focus the driver on the road ahead. To this end all switchgear is located on the steering wheel, with all the vital signs shown on a single OLED display screen. The steering wheel is also detachable, both to aid ingress and egress, and to serve as an additional security device.
"It's been a tremendous challenge to make the interior packaging work," said Matt Hill, Aston Martin Creative Director of Interiors said of the cockpit design.
"We've embraced Red Bull Racing's Formula One ethos and approached from a different angle than conventional road car design. In this instance, we've started from a position where you think something is impossible and work at it until you find a way to make it work.
"We've been fighting for millimetres everywhere, but the battle has been worth it, as it's been fantastic seeing customers try the interior buck for size. They love the ritual of getting in and how it feels to be sat behind the wheel. They're also genuinely surprised at how the car just seems to swallow them. You really do have to sit in it to believe there is genuine space for two large adults."
One of the biggest changes in this latest model are openings in the body surface between the cockpit and front wheel arches which are the key to achieving considerable gains in front downforce.
While aerodynamics and downforce are the dominant story, the Valkyrie features some delightful details. For example, the headlights take inspiration from the pure functionality of a Formula One car's components. Designers have stripped things back to the bare essentials, celebrating the engineering rather than concealing it behind cladding. With the low and high beam elements attached to an intricate exposed anodised aluminium frame not only are the headlamp units a work of art, but they are 30-40 per cent lighter than the lightest series production headlamps available to Aston Martin.
The same approach has been taken with the Aston Martin 'wings' badge that adorns the nose. With the regular badge considered too heavy, and a simple sticker not befitting for a car of the Aston Martin Valkyrie's quality and cutting-edge nature, the Aston Martin Design Team came up with a chemical etched aluminium badge just 70 microns thick. That's 30 per cent thinner than a human hair, and a remarkable 99.4 per cent lighter than the regular enamel wings badge. The badge (nicknamed the 'lacewing') is then attached to the painted body and covered with a perfectly smooth coat of lacquer.
Further detail innovation can be found at the rear of the car, with the centre high mounted stop light (CHMSL). Mounted on the tip of the small shark's fin that runs down the spine of the Aston Martin Valkyrie's airbox and rear bodywork, the light is just 5.5mm wide and 9.5mm high. Illuminated by a red LED it is the world's smallest CHMSL and evidence of how every element of the Aston Martin Valkyrie is scrutinised in the pursuit of eliminating unnecessary weight and drag.
"I would say we're around 95 per cent of the way there with the exterior design," said Aston Martin Creative Director of Exterior Design, Miles Nurnberger
"Much of what you see is actually the structure of the car, so this had to be signed-off relatively early in the project.
"The remaining areas of non-structural bodywork are still subject to evolution and change as Adrian [Newey] continues to explore way of finding more downforce. The new outlets in the body are a case in point. Ordinarily the last thing we'd want to do to one of our surfaces is cut a hole in it, but these vents work the front wings so much harder that they've found a significant gain in front downforce. The fact that they are so effective gives them their own functional beauty, but we've finessed them without impacting on their functionality. That they also serve as windows through which to view the fabulous wing section front wishbones is a welcome bonus!"