Aston Martin Valkyrie: Who said the petrol engine was dead?
ASTON Martin has set itself the challenge of building “the greatest driver’s car of the modern era”, and every detail it releases about the car in question suggests its immodesty is well placed, writes William Scholes.
We already know that the car will be called the Valkyrie - a brilliant name, and enough to secure greatness in my book - and that the creative force behind it is Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey, widely regarded as the most brilliant Formula One designer in history.
And because they have been good enough to show us pictures of the gazillion-pound hypercar, we know it looks like nothing else.
Now Aston Martin has lifted the cam covers on the Valkyrie’s engine.
‘Engine’, however, seems an almost inadequate description. ‘Elemental force’ might be more appropriate, given the incredible specification.
“To anyone with a drop of petrol in their blood, a high-revving naturally aspirated V12 is the absolute pinnacle,” said Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer.
“Nothing sounds better or encapsulates the emotion and excitement of the internal combustion engine more completely.
“Despite the apparently insurmountable challenges it presented, there was never any question that the Aston Martin Valkyrie would make do with anything less.
“The result is a quite extraordinary engine - one which I doubt will ever be surpassed.”
You don’t need to be an engineering geek to appreciate the effort that has gone into creating something superlative; here are some of the highlights.
1. Aston Martin has developed the engine with Cosworth, drawing heavily on F1 know-how, materials and methods. The project brief was to create “the ultimate expression of the internal combustion engine”. That is why it is a V12, of 6.5-litre capacity and with a 65-degree angle between its two banks of six cylinders.
2. Just one of the engine’s jaw-dropping figures is its 1,000bhp output - an achievement made even more incredible because there is no turbocharging or supercharging involved, and it also complies with emissions regulations.
“While turbocharging has absolutely come of age and offers significant and widespread benefits - especially in a road application - the greatest driver’s car of the modern era demands an internal combustion engine that sits at the absolute pinnacle for performance, excitement and emotion,” says Aston Martin.
3. Peak RPM is a heady 11,100rpm, and maximum torque is 546lb.ft. Of course, 1,000bhp and 546lb.ft may not be sufficient, so the Valkyrie’s figures will be further boosted by a battery hybrid system, details of which are to be revealed later.
4. The engine, as in an F1 car, is a fully-stressed element of the chassis and weighs 206kg which is next to nothing for a unit with its capacity, cylinder count and performance.
Apart from the major castings - the cylinder block, heads, sump and cam covers - most of the internal components are machined from solid material, including titanium.
Aston Martin says one of the best examples of the uncompromising approach is the crankshaft.
“Starting life as a solid steel bar 170mm diameter and 775mm long, it is first roughed out, then heat treated, finish machined, heat treated again, gear ground, final ground and super-finished,” it says.
“Upon completion, 80 per cent of the original bar has been machined away and some six months have passed, but the end product is a crankshaft that is an astonishing 50 per cent lighter than that used in the Aston Martin One-77’s V12 - itself a Cosworth-developed evolution of Aston Martin’s series production V12 and, for a time, the world’s most powerful naturally aspirated road car engine.”