While for many it only seems a few years since its debut, the original V12 Vanquish is now approaching the status of ‘modern classic’ as this exceptional sports car was, incredibly, revealed publicly fully 20 years ago this year.
The last production car to be crafted at Newport Pagnell, until the return of manufacturing with the first Continuation cars in 2017, the V12 Vanquish was presented before an eager audience at the Geneva Motor Show of 2001. At the time, it was nothing less than the most sophisticated and technologically advanced new model yet designed, developed and built by Aston Martin.
Incorporating what were, for the period, cutting edge technologies such as drive-by-wire throttle control and F1™-style finger-tip controlled gearshift paddles, the Newport Pagnell-built Vanquish instantly became Aston Martin’s flagship model.
Ian Callum’s elegant, classic body design for the two-door sports car – which was offered in 2+0 or 2+2 configurations – was shaped to reflect the pedigree, heritage and tradition of Aston Martin. It was seen as both bold and dynamic, with finely detailed features for the interior and the exterior.
All the exterior body panels were constructed from aluminium, with each individual panel hand tailored to the central structure.
The car’s body structure, including the floor and the front and rear bulkheads, was formed from extruded aluminium sections bonded and riveted around the central transmission tunnel which was constructed entirely from carbon fibre.
Single piece composite inner body side sections with carbon fibre windscreen pillars were also bonded to the central structure to create a high strength safety cell.
Precise, computer controlled, manufacturing processes were required to create the structures, a huge manufacturing leap for Aston Martin at the time, and these were developed in Cupertino, in California’s Silicone Valley, and at the University of Nottingham University in the United Kingdom.
Now, as this game-changing model moves into its third decade, we have taken the chance to hear first-hand from some of the people who built the car, and who still proudly ply their trades at Aston Martin Works today.
In this film, brand Historian Steve Waddingham caught up with several of his old colleagues from Newport Pagnell for a chat about their recollections of Vanquish production 20 years ago…