Very few people on earth get telephone calls like this one from Aston Martin: “We’re thinking of doing a one-off car and wondered if you might be interested?” And yet, according to Simon Lane, director of Q and special projects for Aston, that’s the (paraphrased) question asked of the eventual owner of the wicked Victor supercar.
Apparently, Aston found it still had a low-mileage carbon-fiber monocoque and V-12 engine from a One-77 prototype (that’s the 77-unit jaw-dropper that made its debut more than a decade ago), and the brand’s Q division thought it’d be a shame to just leave it in storage. So ideas began to percolate.
First, the “lightly used” structure was sent back to its original supplier, Multimatic, to be restored to as-new specification. Likewise, Aston Martin’s engine partner, Cosworth, stripped the V-12 back to the block before rebuilding it. The resulting new and uniquely specified 12-cylinder improved on the One-77’s quite adequate 750 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque to an even beastlier 836 hp and 614 lb-ft. It retains its 7.3-liter displacement and natural aspiration, but now the engine mates to a proper six-speed manual transmission instead of the One-77’s six-speed automatic unit (with paddle shifters).
As to the body that ended up housing that monstrous engine, Aston head of special vehicles David King admitted, “Making bespoke one-off cars is a difficult thing to do, but it all came together fortuitously, the Victor being a combination of the design team and my team getting together and taking the customer along on that [creative] journey.”
“We don’t really do retro design at Aston Martin,” design director Miles Nurnberger said, but he did admit “it’s good to stretch the designers’ minds and have some fun.” And the Victor’s look is certainly fun. It’s an unabashed nod to the V8 Vantage of the 1970s and ’80s, and it’s named for Victor Gauntlett, Aston’s executive chairman during the period when that car was the company’s core model. Nurnberger also admitted the similarly one-off, overtly muscular RHAM/1 racer nicknamed “The Muncher”—a 1970 DBS built by Robin Hamilton to compete at Le Mans in 1977 and 1979—was influential in shaping the Victor’s looks.
The combination of track slayer and road car resonates beyond the Victor’s styling, too; along with its One-77 bits, there’s a good deal of Aston Martin’s Vulcan in its specification, the 24-build track-only model sold back in 2016. Current Aston hypercar ingredients are in the mix, as well, with taillights borrowed from the Valkyrie, and many members of the team responsible for that as-yet-unreleased model provided input on the Victor’s development.
The final product was revealed last September at the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace in a narrow window between the United Kingdom’s numerous COVID-19 lockdowns. You might think that with it being the only one of its kind in existence, the Victor might end up locked away in its owner’s garage. While that person’s identity remains private (“he’s a real enthusiast” according to Aston), he is happy to let a handful of people drive the Victor. (We hear he’s Belgian and an avid car collector.) How much the Victor cost is another closely guarded secret.
That figure is multiple millions of dollars, certainly, but gazing at the car in person gives us the feeling it’s worth the cost—and more. Even the best pictures fail to convey just how dramatic and absolutely spectacular the Victor is. Yes, there are hints of Mustang, but that’s hardly surprising given its spiritual ancestor, the V8 Vantage, is known for its stylistic echoes of Ford’s archetypal muscle car. The body, shaped entirely from carbon fiber, is gorgeous and the surfacing elegant, but brutish detailing gives the Victor a simmering menace in keeping with the cars it draws inspiration from. The rear sweeps up not just for looks but also for aerodynamics, with Aston Martin claiming the Victor generates around 60 percent more downforce than a race-prepped Vantage GT4 car.
That this figure is achieved without a massive GT3-style wing atop the decklid underscores the effectiveness of the rear diffuser, the satin carbon-fiber front splitter, and the huge side skirts. The latter fill the Victor’s lower flanks and provide housing for the blaring side-exiting exhausts.
And everywhere you look there are exquisite details, be it the round headlights, the venting in the wheel arches, or the inboard adjustable suspension visible through the rear window. Like the brakes, that suspension is borrowed from the Vulcan, as are cabin elements such as the instrument display and steering wheel. The interior is a perfect mix of traditional and modern materials, including cashmere, leather, and walnut, as well as carbon fiber, anodized aluminum, and titanium.
Our drive takes place at Aston Martin’s Silverstone Stowe test circuit. In typical British fashion, the heavens have opened just prior, a little concerning given we’re on an unfamiliar track, the tires are dry-friendly Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, and the Victor has only traction control—no stability control. We assume excuses will be made, followed by promises to regroup another day, but that’s not remotely the case. So we slide into the supportive, lightweight driver’s seat, poke the key into a slot in front of the gear lever, and press the ignition button on the U-shaped steering wheel.
There’s the briefest whir of the starter before the engine catches and settles into a thick but cultured idle. Oddly, there’s a V-8-like sound to it, the proximity of the exhaust to our open door only adding to the intensity of the experience. We get a few seconds to get familiar with the cockpit layout and clip into the four-point harnesses before the door is shut. A shout of “good luck!” from the photographer is meant in good spirits but more underlines the severity of the conditions, the rain leaving masses of standing water on the track. Picking our line around the puddles is complicated, too, because the sun has emerged and turned the surface into a huge mirror.
A few tentative exploratory laps quickly reveals the tires need some heat in them and less water below them, but with the deluge subsided, the Victor’s aerodynamics are doing a good job of lifting liquid off the surface and turning it into massive rooster tails behind us. The car is a handful while doing so, the rear rubber repeatedly losing its purchase and requiring quick corrections; the longest straight, which spears down the middle of the circuit, keeps us very busy, particularly in the braking zones, where you need to perfectly nail your heel-and-toe downshifts to avoid locking up the rear wheels.
And yet it all feels so natural, even in these conditions, odd as that might sound with 836 horsepower driving the rear wheels. The clutch, although race-derived, uses different friction materials to aid smoothness, and the excellently weighted third pedal sits next to a well-placed brake pedal that controls the car’s incredible stopping power. The six-speed manual gearbox, shifted via a solid walnut knob, moves through its gates with slick precision, Aston having delightfully left its mechanism exposed for all to enjoy.
The choice to fit a manual transmission not only works with the Victor’s retro vibe, but it was an easier solution, Aston’s Q representatives admit. It also makes this car the most powerful Aston Martin ever to feature a stick shift and is a hugely satisfying differentiator between the Victor and any number of its limited-run, multimillion-dollar hyper- and supercar contemporaries.
The 7.3-liter V-12’s song fills the cabin, and its quick, linear output and the immediacy of its response allows you to revel in its might at any point in the rev range. But that’s perhaps to be expected. What’s surprising is just how playful the chassis proves to be. The nose takes a moment to settle when you point it into a bend, but persevere for a beat, and the car transitions to a neutral balance before you exit the corner steering slightly with the rear end.
Getting the rhythm down is easy, the car’s fluid, predictable responses to your inputs quickly forming a partnership between man and machine. You do need to be careful to avoid running out of lock on the tight steering rack, but maintain the balance, and the Victor’s as playful as a go-kart. Twenty-plus laps reveal the Victor to be a proper driver’s car that requires some physicality to drive it quickly, and it’s fully engaging, exciting, and intoxicating.
That there’s only one example of the Victor is as regrettable as it is wonderful. The owner now possesses something truly incredible and unique, but we feel for all the people who won’t experience driving such a car. While we’ll never receive a call to have a bespoke car created just for us, we did receive one to drive and enjoy it—which we did, enormously.