The Greatest Hits - Remastered | Aston Martin "Callum" Vanquish 25.
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The Greatest Hits - Remastered | Aston Martin "Callum" Vanquish 25.

By ZackNorman97 | Petrolhead's Blog | 13 May 2020


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Not too long ago, I had spoken wonders about the beauties presented by a pair of Twins. Feisty, curvaceous, and sultry — they were both coach-built automobiles from old times, brought back to life in a world where analogue pleasure is slowly fading away, exchanged for digitised convenience. They were aging dinosaurs, and one might wonder, why even remake an already antiquated car?

Well, the answer is equally complicated as trying to explain why some folk still prefer the art of mechanical watches, or listening to music on a turntable. It’s now easier than ever to find, and listen to the music that you love. All it takes is an application, with moderate internet connection; and terabytes worth of songs are readily available at your desire, some composed by musicians that you may not have ever heard of before.

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Credits to: Monochrome Watches | Get lost in the complexity of this A. Lange & Söhne Datograph’s movement.

However, if music-streaming is so fantastic, why then, are some people still using old-fashioned turntables, having to care for fragile and bulky vinyl discs? If Bluetooth connectivity is so convenient, why then, are we still physically plugging-in with cables, tied to our computers with a cord? Sometimes, there’s a sense of enjoyment in expensing a bit of effort, and creating a tangible connection between one’s emotions, and something which would normally be used as a piece of machinery.

It’s that link which we have, forming an absolute relationship, unbound from anything in-between. It makes machinery — with cogs, wheels, and wires — feel more human. It’s for this reason why we celebrate older cars. Yes, the new ones are better in all the measurable metrics. Nevertheless, our passions are not something that can be easily explained on a chart or spreadsheet, nor can it be calculated based no empirical methods.



The Sins Of Our Fathers.

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Credits to: Drive-my — Aston Martin Vanquish S | From my previous post on this old brute.

This story doesn’t stand by its lonesome however, and is related to a previous article, discussing one of my all-time favourite modern-classics, the Vanquish. In its very last paragraph, I had wondered as to what would’ve happened had Aston Martin been in a better shape back then. Perhaps they might’ve made a more wholesome package with arguably the best nameplate in the automotive business, and be able to weed out those rough edges?

The Vanquish had a few damaging weak-spots, proving vulnerable to its foes, carrying the sins of its fathers with great weight on its shoulders. We can’t go back in time and change what happened, to point fingers at problems that may or may not have gone unnoticed. There is however, a rare occasion where one has the option to take that old Vanquish, and start anew. A resto-mod of sorts — to restore the glory of a retired champion, who never saw the limelight as it was hoped — and to modify them by amplifying vigour, while blunting its faults.

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Credits to: R-Reforged — V12 Zagato Heritage Twins | Beautiful, aren’t they?

For this, we go back to Ian Callum, the Vanquish’s father. Having since retired and unshackled himself from large-scale production, he’s formed his own design studio. Now, he can truly let his imagination run wild, and his first project is to remake that old Vanquish into the greatest hit that should’ve been. He’s also working with none other than R-Reforged, the same coach-builder behind the V12 Zagato Heritage Twins that I’ve gushed over from before.

Before we ooze ourselves once more with all the pretty cosmetic changes, we should spend some time looking under the skin. The old Vanquish had an engine to die for, as the howl from that 6.0-litre V12 was enough to shake the bowels of the Earth. Yet, some of the car’s dynamics never performed just as well, with it feeling less refined that Ferrari’s 575 which the Vanquish stood against.

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Credits to: Netcarshow — Aston Martin Vanquish S | The mounstrous 6.0-litre, naturally-aspirated V12.

This got sorted out with the Vanquish S, but it was still singularly focused to be the best grand-tourer, putting attention to its ability of covering large distances with ease and poise. Nowadays, even just a decade later, new technologies have made us become more accustomed to cars that can be the jack of all trades, and master of everything all at once. Even with large, lumbering grand-tourers; we want them to be soft and supple when you’re just cruising along, but we also need them to have the chops and attack any good piece of road like a finely-tuned sports car.

These new standards have aged the Vanquish, but with Callum & Co.’s Vanquish ‘25’; some underbody tuning has made this new-old car just that bit sharper. The front-, and rear-tracks have been widened to make the Vanquish more stable at high speeds and while cornering. It also has the added benefit of stretching out the car’s bodywork, putting on a more aggressive stance than its former self. Those already girthy hips at the back are made wider to accommodate the revised suspension, and its all the better for it.

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Credits to: Callum Designs — Vanquish 25 | An overview of what’s to come.

On the subject of going around bends; improvements have been made to the dampers, springs, and anti-roll bars, using the same technology that’s been used in Aston Martin’s race-cars. All these small tweaks should make the Vanquish a bit more precise when you’re dynamically pushing it above and beyond the limit, while also not compromising its grand-touring capabilities.

Given how much Ian Callum liked the wheel design so much, it still remains the same on the 25, with the exception that it has been re-forged to be one-inch larger in diameter. One can see why, as its simplicity has remained ageless over the years. In contrast, these wheels have been fitted onto a set of meticulously engineered tyres, made specifically for the 25. With grip having now been improved courtesy of that new rubber, the act of stopping the car is aided by brand-new, carbon-ceramic brakes.

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Credits to: Callum Designs — Vanquish 25 | Hello, Michelin Man! Plus, some nice wheels & tyres.

While we’re here, we can also see Ian Callum’s new signature finish, something which he calls — Abstract Tartan. Following his intense Scottish-ness, this is a recurring theme of the 25, and something you’ll see more of later. It’s interesting to see the tyres painted in this way, mimicking the look of race-cars, as those white strips of paint break up all that blackened rubber, winning approval from the always-cheery Michelin Man. I’d love to see how this paint will slowly fade and age in time, giving it a soothing patina.

With gymnastics training done, the Vanquish could’ve taken a rest by now, as that naturally-aspirated V12 never needed more cardio. It had plenty of shove, especially for the standards back in 2004, punting you along with bountiful amounts of torque, regardless of which gear you’re in. Nevertheless, the engineers felt like it could with a bit of elbow grease, to go in unison with everything else.

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Credits to: Callum Designs — Vanquish 25 | Sadly, I couldn’t find pictures of the re-tuned engine.

Along with some new componentry, a mix of programming made to the engine’s brain, and a new carbon-fibre air-box; the result is an engine bay so beautiful, the engineers would’ve wanted to display it under a glass case, had the heat-shield not got in the way. At least you’ll be able to feel the difference, given the addition of 60 more horsepower, and a linear increase in torque. Creating that much horsepower from an old engine is quite a feat, and it just goes to show how monstrous this powerplant was. Unnecessary, but I can’t complain over a bit more power, can you?

With a fire-breathing dragon under the bonnet, it needed ample amounts of fresh air to cool it down. The bonnet as been re-shaped, with that signature Abstract Tartan making an appearance on the vents, leaving its intricacies hiding what beast lies within. Conflicts of old and new are prevalent on the Vanquish 25, where we can see an old design now cloaked in carbon-fibre, and a refreshed aesthetic.

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Credits to: Callum Designs — Vanquish 25 | Staring into your soul. Notice all the carbon-fibre.

It still has the distinctive beauty, and the timeless elegance of what came before. For all I care, they could’ve left the design alone, but I won’t mind these subtle changes. Staring down at you, the front fascia is more aggressive than ever, opening its wide open grille to intake more gusts of air into that massive engine. Along the bottom, the razor sharp cheekbones have replaced the two large fog-light and indicators into a pair of vents, conceived to cool those hot, fiery carbon-ceramic brakes.

If you’re not bored out by the word “air “, then you best get used to it, as aerodynamics are a key aspect in redesigning the Vanquish. Going along, you can see more of that Tartan finish on the side-vents, complementing the tyres just nicely. A staple design-language for Aston Martin, these vents are placed here to help relieve built-up pressure from the wheel-well, thus ensuring the car stays planted on the ground, as that pressure is split by the carbon-fibre strake, and rushes along the side.

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Credits to: Callum Designs — Vanquish 25 | She sits lower, more aggresive than ever.

Underneath the doors, there’s now a very pronounced carbon-fibre side-skirt, something not present on the old Vanquish. You can see those diagonal slits closer to the front; which I genuinely have no idea what it does, but I can speculate that it has something to do with aerodynamics. Once we’re done admiring those wide hips once more, we can start appreciating the arse-end of the Vanquish 25, where most of the design changes have taken place.

Once again pertaining to air-flow, the duck-tail spoiler now has a steeper angle, giving it a more intimidating look, while also increasing downforce — the amount of air pushing down on the car . Skipping over straight to the bottom, there’s an ever larger carbon-fibre rear-diffuser in place — in case you thought that there wasn’t enough carbon — which adds more downforce to improve overall stability, while simultaneously decreasing drag — which is the vacuum of air that acts as resistance . There’s seemingly a familiar theme here, isn’t there? More, bigger, and larger equals to good?

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Credits to: Callum Designs — Vanquish 25 | A good look at the rear-end.

Seems like it, and we’re not even done yet. Just as how the headlights have been updated to used LEDs, the taillights have received a similar amount of small tweaks, now redesigned to look more like a horseshoe, a trait made popular by the DB9. Then, there’s the visibly orange exhaust tips, while other than looking pretty, it’ll sound better too. Callum & Co. have worked with sound engineers to re-tune the flow-rate, and give it more growl than usual. The original Vanquish had a naughty exhaust note, but I can’t say no to even more.

There’s also all the small details that they’ve — specifically Ian Callum — made here. For instance, the fuel-filler door on this particular car has the words “Rebel Rebel “ stamped on it, marking Mr. Callum’s love for David Bowie. Then, underneath those orange exhaust tip — where you’re likely to never see them — the words “Made You Look “ are repeated on both sides. I’m not sure where this reference comes from, but I can see it being a jest from the designers, showing their emboldened approach to remaking the Vanquish.



The Rights And Wrongs.

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Credits to: Callum Designs — Vanquish 25 | It’s the small details that count.

Finally, we’ve come to the two weakest links of the original Vanquish — the interior, and the transmission. Let’s begin with the gearbox, which for me, is a deal-breaker on the original. It might seem as though a trivial thing, but personally, a gearbox quite clearly defines the line between either having loads of fun, or rueing that you turned-on the engine in the first place.

The good news here, is that you’ll no longer have to contend with the jerky, slow, and woefully inept automated-manual of the old Vanquish. The 25 can now be fitted with a 6-speed automatic torque-converter, a standard kit you’ll find on a lot of cars today. Not a dual-clutch, but it’s more than adequate, and a monumental upgrade from what it had before. To note, this upgrade is optional, but then I must ask: why wouldn’t you tick that box? An interesting question now, is whether they’ll accept donor cars with the manual-swap, instead.

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Credits to: Callum Designs — Vanquish 25 | A very lurid colour choice.

The other weakness of the Vanquish, was its interior. In fact, this was a particular highlight of the car, given that Ian Callum himself wasn’t at all pleased with how this turned out — a sea of tacky plastic, and borrowed switches from cheap Fords. You’ll now find glass buttons, and just like most of the 25’s construction, carbon-fibre can be found here as well. There’s the minimalistic placement of hard-buttons and switches, with aluminium knobs, alongside the fancy infotainment system in place.

One very pretty feature to enjoy, sits right above everything else. Replacing the old Vanquish’s clock is a new, custom-made Bremont mechanical timepiece. I like watches, so you’ll excuse my enthusiasm. Bremont is a fairly nascent watchmaker, based in the UK — making them the perfect partner to this very British grand-tourer. Specifically, this is a chronograph, allowing you to time things, and best of all, it’s removable. This means that with a pair of straps, you can take this clock off the car, and wear it as a nice wristwatch — taking a piece of the Vanquish where ever you go.

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Credits to: Callum Designs — Vanquish 25 | A Bremont to keep you company.

It’s a small detail, and I love it so! Even the gauge-cluster has been updated as well, changing up from that old-timey chrome, to new-age carbon-fibre. Seriously, can we ever get too much carbon? The rest of the interior sees a plethora of fine British leather, and the very same Abstract Tartan stitched all around. In the original Vanquish, you’re used to sitting higher above the ground, but in the 25, the seats have been lowered, resulting in a more sportier driving position. Everything you touch feels expensive, be it leather, aluminium, carbon, or the very best of plastic if it comes to that. Even in the back, where three large subwoofers sit to give you aural pleasure — not least from the V12 — they’ve put just as much thought into the leather and stitching, just as they’ve done with the headrests.

The Vanquish comes in one of two seating configurations — 2+2, or 2+0 — with the latter meaning that instead of uselessly small rear-seats, you’ll get a large bench for your luggage. To make this an even more special experience, Callum & Co. worked with Mulberry to make a set of custom-fitted luggage, matched to the leather that you’re sitting on. Though it’s worth pointing out that the 25 is bespoke, and every design choice can be personalised to you. So, if you’re not a fan of the blueish-purple and orange, you can specify any colour combination that you want. Just please, for my sanity, don’t get this in salmon-pink, or mint-green.



Exceptional Rarity.

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Credits to: AutoCar | A tour with Ian Callum.

So, there it is, a refreshed version of an already fantastic car. It’s interesting to see how these small changes amount to such a large change, visually at least. If you’re interested, you might want to hurry. As the name implies the Vanquish 25 is limited to just 25 units, with each car getting the full attention of the legendary Ian Callum himself. The price isn’t something so easily swallowed however, with each car expecting to cost around £550,000, which includes the cost of donor car.

That price is an estimation by the way, not counting any special touches you might want in your new-old Vanquish. On the other hand though, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the £1.75 million for a pair of those V12 Zagatos. However, once putting aside the thorny issue of price, I’m actually having a hard time choosing between the Twins, or the 25. Besides, for the same half-ish million British pounds, you can also get an old V12 Zagato, complete with a manual gearbox.

What about you, which one would you pick? An old racer, or a brutish cruiser? Also, what’re your thoughts on these long-format posts? I’ve enjoyed writing them, but I do wonder if I’d be better off with shorter, sub-1000 word posts instead…



Thanks for reading! For more updates on my blogs, or the more minute things in life, feel free to follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium, and maybe give a shout there as well!

While you’re at it, follow along ZackNorman97 for more, coming soon :-)

 

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ZackNorman97
ZackNorman97

There's two sides to a coin. I'm a Writer, Blogger, and Thinker.


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