At the Geneva Motor Show in May 2001, Aston Martin launched the V12 Vanquish, which itself was a development from the Project Vantage concept shown at the 1998 Detroit Auto Show. The Vanquish made a splash at Geneva, but it got even more good press as it marked Aston Martin’s return as James Bond’s car of choice in 2002’s Die Another Day.
Parent company Ford was using Aston Martin as a test bed for 21st-century ideas and chief executive Ulrich Bez came from BMW Technik and Porsche R&D in Weissach. The new model required a multimillion-dollar redesign of the Newport Pagnell plant, with a new assembly line, paint shop, rolling road, and water test unit.
Ian Callum, who created the DB7 and would later redesign the Jaguar XK in 2005, was responsible for the Aston Martin Vanquish’s looks. The V12 Vanquish was more advanced than almost any production car at that time with a monocoque tub made of heat-cured aluminum, bonded with a carbon fiber central tunnel. Aston Martin boasted exceptional rigidity and a weight only 250 lbs, with the additional bonus of reducing internal heat transfer from the transmission and exhaust.
Independent suspension mounts on two subframes, with alloy wishbones, coil springs, and front and rear roll bars. The engine is an alloy 6-liter, 48-valve DOHC powerplant which develops 460 bhp at 6800 rpm. The Stage 2 Vanquish unit is 40 lbs lighter, due to reduced weight in the rotating masses. The result is 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and top speed of 190 mph.
Shifting for the 6-speed semi-automatic gearbox is by twin paddles behind the steering wheel that can be manual or computer-controlled automatically with a “sport” option in either mode. The system enables the driver to skip intermediate gears when downshifting, while a rev-limiter protects the engine.
As expected, the V12 Vanquish came with every supercar bell and whistle – air conditioning, power leather seats, Wilton carpets, Alpine 6-CD stereo, tire pressure sensors, automatic rain-sensor wipers, automatic headlights, and self-dipping mirror. The Vanquish was available as a two-seater or a 2+2 for very small children, but only in a coupe body style.
Aston Martin aimed the Vanquish at the Ferrari 575 Maranello and the two cars were comparable in size, performance, cost, and sales. Both weighed 4,000lbs. The Vanquish cost $228,000 while the Ferrari set you back $224,965. A total of 2589 Vanquishes were sold, against 2100 575s.
In 2004 Aston Martin introduced the Vanquish S at the Paris Motor Show. The engine remained the same displacement, at 5935cc, but power increased from 460 bhp to 520 bhp. Obvious differences were new wheels, a slightly different nose, and a trunk lid with a rear spoiler incorporating the third brake light. A Vanquish S badge graced the rear.
The S also incorporated a Sports Dynamic Package (optional on the 2004 Vanquish) with improved suspension, steering, and brakes and the model continued through 2006 in the U.S. market. The Vanquish S also features larger brakes than the base V12, and top speed rose to 200 mph. The S was the fastest production Aston Martin until the One-77 arrived in 2008.
The final 50 Vanquish S units were sold as the Ultimate Edition. All were black with an upgraded black interior. The last V12 Vanquish was produced on July 19, 2007, after which the Newport Pagnell factory ceased production after 49 years, and production moved to Gaydon.
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