Even by Aston Martin's recent standards, this year's Geneva motor show press conference was something exceptional to witness. While still concepts, the signal of intent in revealing a 003 and a Vanquish (alongside a further evolved Valkyrie) is clear: Aston Martin is fervently committed to mid-engined supercars. Which is exciting progress, when you consider what it's achieved with front-engined sports cars. After all, who wouldn't be intrigued by the idea of a mid-engined supercar from Aston to take on the best that Ferrari and McLaren has to offer, developed by Matt Becker and signed off by Chris Goodwin? It all sounds like a brilliant idea.
This isn't the first time, however, that Aston has created something ludicrously powerful, extremely expensive and very limited - remember the One-77? Its production run of 77 makes the five hundred 003s slated for production look positively common, its 760hp output still looks absurd a decade later, and a price tag in excess of million pounds looked like more money than ever in the midst of a financial crisis. It may not be the first hypercar that springs to mind, yet it more than has the credentials to rank among them.
The One-77 is an intriguing example of how far the industry has moved in such little time, too. Because if Aston Martin had revealed a car in 1999 with a huge V12, automated manual gearbox, sumptuous interior and suave - if identifiable as an Aston - styling, then it would have been a surprise if not completely extraordinary. A decade later and it still fitted in with what the world expected; hypercars still had big, naturally aspirated engines, the automated manual remained in use and Aston just sort of did the front-engined GT thing to various levels. Very well, it must be said, but with precious little to differentiate them. Another 10 years later and the notion of a car with a 7.3-litre V12 sounds like folly, the gearbox has been gladly consigned to the history book and the carbon monocoque can now be found on £150k entry level supercars, not million-dollar specials. And Aston is launching a range of mid engined supercars. Progress really has been staggering.
But, of course, as has been discussed on numerous occasions now, there's a lot to be said for the old ways sometimes. Like the Astons recently revealed at Geneva, the One-77 - shown there exactly 10 years ago, in fact - had its engine developed by Cosworth, and who better to entrust with the job of creating a spellbinding V12? It made 760hp at 7,500rpm, the kind of figure to make your knees go weak in 2019. Nothing is there to enhance or manipulate that figure, either, just a huge chunk of engine working very, very fast indeed. Imagine how a V12 like that now feels, sounds and works. Of course the Valkyrie engine appears damn impressive, too, but that's a very different kettle of fish.
With that front-mid layout, carbon tub and pushrod suspension, the One-77 was a markedly more focused, angry and aggressive car than any of the series production Astons, while still retaining that opulence associated with the brand - look at that interior, for example. It was a genuine 220mph car, too, the kind of speed that really puts you among the upper echelons of supercar top trump naughtiness. Reviews spoke of an intensity and ferocity unbeknown to most Astons, the immediacy of that engine and really alert, agile chassis.
With only 77 ever made (in case you hadn't already guessed) and that incredible asking price, there surely aren't going to be One-77s just a few years later in anything less than perfect condition, apart from the one apparently shunted in Hong Kong. This car, for sale at Nicholas Mee for £2m, has covered just 3,000km since 2011, was brought over here in 2013, and is presented in a subdued spec. It's hard to imagine a One-77 ever wanting for drama, but arguably this silver with black has aged better than the white the car is often seen in. It looks bloody fabulous, actually, those familiar early 21st century Aston traits pumped up, filled out and injected with some real concept car punch. It'll never quite have the visual pull of something mid-engined, but there's no doubting the specialness.
Furthermore, the One-77 is a car of such calibre and significance that it'll surely only remain tremendously desirable. The tiny amount of cars, that incredible engine and the sense of purpose must mean that a few memorable miles could be added to this without harming future values. And think of it this way: a Ferrari Enzo also has a glorious V12, an automated manual gearbox that will now feel a bit old hat and a price tag in the region of £2m, yet is five times more common. The £2m Aston that almost represents good value? Heard it here first.
In all seriousness though, as Aston moves to a mid-engined, hybridised, F1-influenced future, don't be surprised to see these more traditional - all things being relative - limited edition flagships become ever more in demand. The charm of a huge V12 has sustained for decades, and isn't like to go away anytime soon. Bring that together with 21st century dynamic technology, the allure of the Aston badge and the sensational way the One-77 looks, and it isn't hard to see this pretty quickly finding a very contented customer. Spring is almost here, after all...
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