Remember the end of 2007? A while ago now, a time of crunching credit, iPhones and Obama fever. It was also, far more significantly for the purposes of this story, the time that Aston Martin chose to reveal a completely unexpected concept: the Vantage RS.
What a concept it was. The regular Vantage had been ticking along really rather nicely since its 2005 launch, Coupe soon joined by Roadster and the faster 4.7-litre V8 imminent by that point. The V12 had been doing sterling service in the larger cars as well, but nobody had pictured the two together; an engine so large, in a car so small? Surely it couldn't work?
However, like the Triple Whopper of sports cars, a V12 in a Vantage not only functioned, it made something that was already great even better still. The Vantage RS was driven by the media in 2008, who returned from the Paul Ricard experience wide-eyed and delirious, and the V12 Vantage as we know it was revealed in production form at Geneva in 2009.
However, the RS was a much, much more serious car than the road version that followed, more akin to the later GT12 than the regular 510hp version. Indeed, it was lighter than any subsequent production V12 at less than 1,600kg, and its 590hp or so (Aston originally claimed 600hp, with later projections in the region of 580) is far closer to GT12 than standard V. The original press release spoke of "race development", the engine installed in the concept being very close to that used in the DBRS9 with forged pistons, new cams and a dry sump.
Extensive use of carbon and aluminium in the build, plus a stripped out interior, meant the RS weighed 100kg more than a V8, with 60kg of that accounted for by the engine. Even by the standards of Aston Martin, the RS was a special concept, then. That it spawned perhaps the best VH sports cars, the V12 Vantage S in particular a joyous blend of immersive tactility and monstrous performance, only makes it more significant.
And now you can buy it! This is the unique Vantage RS Concept, released into private ownership after its promotional duties were fulfilled and road registered in 2014. Looking like any other V12 Vantage from a distance, the RS is crammed full of fascinating details once up close: see the shift lights, race car-style dash, damper adjustment dials and exposed fuel tank. Easy to see now how it was so much lighter than all those later cars...
It wouldn't be a stretch, really, to call this RS a GT12 manual. It's missing some of the aero work, sure, and Aston will have further evolved the car in the intervening years, but that same focus, pared back nature and motorsport influence are here in abundance. And don't forget it's a one-off.
Therefore an asking price of £345,000 doesn't look exorbitant, particularly given there's a GT12 on offer at more money. This RS is a car rarer than any of the special edition Vantages, faster than an awful lot of them, and less expensive than the Zagatos also built off the V12. Of course £345,000 is not a snip when the regular V12 is available from less than £80k, but for such a crucial part of Aston's history - as well as fabulous car to boot - it looks like being money very well spent indeed.