1998 Aston Martin Project Vantage Concept

Jacques Nasser (R), President Ford Automotive Operations, and Bob Dover Chairman Aston Martin revealed the Aston Martin Project Vantage Concept Car today at the North American International Auto Show. The Project Vantage is a technologically advanced sports car concept with a 6.0L, 48 valve, V-12 engine capable of track speeds in excess of 200 MPH. Project Vantage is expected to get 20 mpg and will meet or exceed all known or projected emissions requirements in the countries where Aston Martins are sold.

The Project Vantage prototype is a design concept for a totally new, advanced-technology vehicle employing high-strength, lightweight construction and a high-power, low-emissions powertrain. Project Vantage draws heavily onadvanced research being conducted by Ford Advanced Vehicle Technology (AVT) and its wealth of experience gained from participation in Formula One GrandPrix racing and other areas of international motor sport."We believe Project Vantage reflects all the essential elements of power, performance and driver involvement in a manner which is true to the traditions of Aston Martin," said Bob Dover, chairman and chief executive of Aston Martin.

Project Vantage resulted from close and continuing cooperation among engineers and designers at Aston Martin, AVT, Borg Warner, Magnetti Marelli, AP Racing, ITT, TRW and other Aston Martin suppliers.

"Aston Martin is a tremendous real-world arena for some of Ford's most advanced technologies," said Jac Nasser, president, Ford Automotive Operations. "Project Vantage helps us refine some very important design and construction technologies that initially can be employed in low-volume manufacturing and eventually become employed in more mass market vehicles." With its body and chassis constructed from aluminum and carbon fibre, Project Vantage provides all the engineering efficiencies, structural integrity, torsional rigidity and occupant protection of a modern Formula One car. A central venturi in the underbody creates positive down force to aid directional stability Advanced electronic control systems for engine management and the transmission permit instantaneous gear changes through a system of Formula One-style paddles that can be operated through fingertip control from the steering wheel. The six-speed transmission may also be operated in a fully automatic mode. The aggressive body design of this classic configuration, front-engine, rear-wheel-drive British sports car is the work of Scottish designer Ian Callum, whose design for the Aston Martin DB7 continues to win international recognition.

The two-seat, highly functional air-conditioned interior of Project Vantage is biased toward the needs of the driver. It is finished in an imaginative combination of traditional Connolly hide and suede upholstery matched to brushed aluminum and carbon fibre for many of the interior surfaces.

The driver and passenger seats are equipped with four-point safety harnesses. There is matching tailored luggage fitted in the boot and interior lockers.

Power is provided by a prototype 6.0-litre aluminum alloy V-12 48-valve engine, one of the units being studied by Aston Martin, Ford AVT and Cosworth Engineering of Northhampton to establish and identify Aston Martin's potential engine requirements for the future. With base design by Ford AVT, this advanced engine is capable of being developed to provide the required levels of performance for Project Vantage while meeting or exceeding the world's strictest emissions standards. For example, its high-efficiency exhaust system has been designed to incorporate a 9.0-litre catalyst. Initial performance indications on this racing/concept car show that this 200-mph high-efficiency Aston Martin could accelerate from rest to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds, reach more than 140 mph at the end of a standing quarter- mile, yet still get more than 20 miles per gallon of fuel. Benefiting from Ford AVT's involvement with the Stewart Ford Formula One Grand Prix team and Bridgestone Tires, Project Vantage employs unequal length wishbones in its front suspension controlled by horizontally located pushrod- operated spring and damper units together with an active front anti-roll bar system. At the rear, the independent suspension is by equal length wishbones.

The AP Racing anti-lock brake system features ventilated and drilled 15ins diameter discs on the front wheels and 14ins diameter discs at the rear. The six-pot aluminum alloy calipers are equipped with titanium bridge bolts and fittings.

By combining aluminum honeycomb with carbon fibre, Aston Martin body designers have created a structure that takes full advantage of modern Formula One technology, including the generation of positive down force. The passenger compartment is constructed from aluminum honeycomb with carbon fibre reinforcements in the extruded aluminum chassis sections and roof pillars. The roof structure is generated from double-skinned carbon fibre. There are two energy-absorbent crush zones provided by the space frames. This mode of construction and these materials save more than 50 per cent of weight and increase torsional rigidity more than 100 per cent. Four 25,000-volt, high-intensity discharge headlamp units provide lighting designed to match the performance potential of this Vantage prototype. This electronically controlled HID system doubles the output of conventional halogen lights.

The 19inch diameter cast magnesium road wheels with 9.5ins width rims are equipped with intermediate compound 255 x 40 ZR19 Bridgestone radial ply tyres at the front and 285.40 ZR19 tyres at the rear.

"The concept of Project Vantage will enable everyone involved in the programme to investigate and explore techniques, concepts and materials which could all be employed at some time in the future, together with seeking opinions on the exterior and interior designs," Dover said. "We are looking forward to receiving feedback on all of the features incorporated in the concept. For us at Aston Martin, it has involved us in a new way of doing business while retaining and strengthening the traditional virtues and brand values of the world famous marque."

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