The bespoke AM-RB001 Valkyrie became one of the most talked about cars in the world when Aston Martin and Red Bull announced it in Melbourne last year, and the hype hasn't faded in the intervening 18 months. We've now been given a detailed look at the road-legal version of the Valkyrie, complete with unbelievably intricate underbody aerodynamics and a stunning, pared-back interior.
We can't quite believe it either, but apparently the stunning slice of British design and engineering you see here will be road legal. Imagine seeing one sitting at the traffic lights, rubbing shoulders with mundane hatchbacks and hulking four-wheel drives. Most journos scoffed when Aston said the Valkyrie, known as the AM-RB001 at that point, would be an LMP1 car for the road, but this is one case where we're sure they're very happy to be proven wrong.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Red Bull Racing aerodynamicist Adrian Newey is responsible for the insane underbody setup, designed to draw as much air as possible over the shapely carbon fiber diffuser through twin venturi tunnels. Newey actually told New Atlas the car debuts technology and aerodynamic devices deemed too radical for the (frustratingly restrictive) F1 rule makers.
The unique underbody aerodynamics bring a number of advantages. Aston Martin says the car develops more than 1.8 tons of downforce at high speed, so the system clearly works, but it also makes for a fascinating profile. There are a lot of interesting cutouts and shapes lurking under the smooth bodywork, but the top of the car is unmistakably an Aston. The pairing of Newey and Marek Reichman, Head Designer at Aston Martin, is one we'd love to see more of in future.
The body cleverness extends beyond the underbody, with some beautifully nerdy solutions for saving weight. The headlamps use an anodized aluminum frame to shave between 30 and 40 percent from the lightest headlight assembly used in current Aston Martins, and the high-mounted central rear light is the world's lightest. Meanwhile, the badge is just 70 microns thick – making it 30 percent thinner than a human hair.
This fanatical gram-shedding continues inside as well, where the luxurious detailing from the DB11 and Vanquish has been replaced with a pared-back look. The seats are mounted directly to the carbon tub, and four-point harnesses are standard. Aston says the feet-up driving position is reminiscent of modern Le Mans and F1 racers.
Anything that could distract from driving (very quickly) has been stripped from the dash, leaving three screens and a detachable steering wheel festooned with buttons. Crucial info about the car is displayed on the large OLED screen behind the wheel, while the compact units on the A-pillars are there in place of conventional rear-view mirrors.
It's nice to see rear-view cameras and screens make the jump from concept to reality, where they offer all-weather visibility and neat aerodynamics that a regular mirror can't. There's even room for taller drivers in the cabin, with Aston Martin saying people in the 98th percentile for height can squeeze in.
"It's been a tremendous challenge to make the interior packaging work," says Matt Hill, Aston Martin Creative Director of Interiors. "In this instance, we've started from a position where you think something is impossible and work at it until you find a way to make it work. We've been fighting for millimeters everywhere, but the battle has been worth it, as it's been fantastic seeing customers try the interior buck for size. They love the ritual of getting in and how it feels to be sat behind the wheel."
The Valkyrie is set for production in 2018. Aston Martin says the design may still change before it reaches owners, but it's about 95 percent complete.
Source: Aston MartinView gallery - 18 images