John McIlroy 2019-09-02 12:00
Ian Callum's new design and engineering company unveils its first creation – the Aston Martin Vanquish by Callum
This is the Aston Martin Vanquish by Callum, the first project from the new design and engineering business set up by former Jaguar Director of Design, Ian Callum.
Based on the first-generation Vanquish S, which the Scot designed during his spell with the TWR engineering consultancy, the new model takes the rapid GT produced between 2001 and 2007 and updates it with styling modifications, a reworked and retrimmed interior, a reprofiled chassis and upgrades to the engine, exhaust and brakes.
The vehicle features Callum’s signature motif, a design that he’s calling ‘abstract tartan”, in a number of key areas, including on the sidewalls of the bespoke Michelin tyres, the redesigned bonnet louvres, the rear parcel shelf, the seats and the cabin headlining.
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The changes to the bodywork include all-new headlights that incorporate indicators, allowing a fresh front bumper that does away with the old car’s indicator lamps and replaces them with brake cooling intakes. Callum believes this – plus the adoption of huge carbon-ceramic brake discs – will ease one of the Vanquish’s biggest niggles: brake fade.
There are reworked sills, much neater surrounds on the side glass area and at the rear, the Vanquish gets an all-new diffuser that is the final part of a more complex exhaust system. There are also new LED tail-lights and some of the old Vanquish’s chrome work has been replaced by body-coloured materials.
The engine gets a new map and much-improved exhaust systems to breathe more easily and produce around 60bhp more than the original Vanquish S. Callum is declining to name a specific figure, because it may depend on the precise tune of the engine in each Vanquish used as a donor, but as a rough guide the car should offer 575bhp.
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The car will continue to feature an automated manual transmission, but Callum intends to offer a GM-sourced torque converter automatic to buyers who use their vehicles predominantly on urban roads.
The chassis is lowered and Callum’s engineering team – led by former Jaguar SVO and Aston Martin man Adam Donfrancesco – is trying to balance greater capability and body control with the compliance that makes it a long-distance GT. “We’re experimenting with springs, damper rates, bushes and anti-roll bars at present,” Donfancesco said. “We want the car to involve and excite the driver, while still being a car you can drive for 1,000 miles without any fatigue.”
The track is wider by up to 30mm at each side and the car will sit on a choice of 20in alloy wheels.
Callum will take orders from customers and source a suitable car, but Callum himself believes that many customers will be existing owners who want their car to be upgraded. “We strip the vehicle down completely so we have a consistent starting point,” he said. “The price will vary depending on the condition of the original vehicle and how much work is required to get to that initial baseline.”
Speaking to Auto Express, Callum said he hopes his take on the Vanquish will be seen as a natural evolution from the original car. “In a way at least some elements of it are what would have been a facelift, if that car had had one,” he said. “We’ll work with every customer on colours and trims but ultimately, my name is going on each vehicle, so I’ll say no if it doesn’t feel right.”
The cabin features a number of significant upgrades. The hip point is lowered by around 20mm and the seats – upholstered by Scottish leather specialist Bridge of Weir – feature taller bolsters to give the impression of sitting ‘in’ the car, instead of ‘on’ it. The steering wheel position has been moved too, and the wheel itself has a slimmer rim than the original car’s, to allow the driver to grip it properly.
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Image 14 of 15
There are entirely new door linings, with bespoke door handles instead of the original Vanquish’s Jaguar-sourced items. Switches and dials come from luxury watch brand Bremont, which has also supplied a pocket clock that is based in the centre of the facia but also removable. The infotainment system gets an upgrade too; it’s now a Garmin-based unit that brings both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality to the Vanquish for the first time.
Other tie-ins include bespoke luggage from Mulberry – again featuring the Callum tartan motif – and a high-end audio system from Krell.
Callum says his company is not tied to Aston projects, and that he already has a good idea of what will follow. “We’re not beholden to OEMs,” he said, “and we’re interested to meet clients who have a vision that we can then take through to production – as a one-off, in some cases, or as a very limited production run. Eventually the goal is to produce our own model entirely, perhaps with a donor vehicle but featuring a totally bespoke body. I’d love to try a Jaguar too some day.”
Callum will produce a maximum of 25 examples of its Vanquish, and this process is likely to take between 18 months and two years. The final chassis sign-off should take place by the autumn, with the first delivery of a customer vehicle before the end of 2019.
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