Aston Martin ‘Vanquish Celebration Day’ 2009 at Works Service
Newport Pagnell 3 October 2009: Works Service hosted another superb ‘one-model’ day, this time in recognition of Aston Martin’s groundbreaking, 200mph supercar, the Vanquish.
Nearly 70 cars, and many more owners and enthusiasts from as far away as the USA, were present at Works Service as Ian Minards, Ian Callum, Bob Dover, Harry Calton and Arthur Sinclair gave fascinating presentations. They each talked about their part in the creation of what Minards described as “an incredible strategic move... that lay the foundation for what Aston Martin Lagonda builds at Gaydon today.”
As ever, Kingsley Riding-Felce was at the heart of proceedings, and had the Works Service main workshop sparklingly set out as an ‘all-Vanquish’ affair. Many cars in for service shared space with one of the four James Bond Vanquishes, Project Vantage (the model’s groundbreaking concept that debuted at Detroit in 1997) and a cutaway body and chassis. There were also technicians on hand, to talk at length with owners on everyone’s favourite subject: the famous ‘paddle’, ASM transmission.
Minards was Chief Programme Engineer for the Vanquish and told the story from the initial budgetary sign-off by the company’s then-Chief Executive Bob Dover, through the commission of styling from Ian Callum, the sensational concept car, crash-testing and the production process, and a launch to the world’s press in October 2000.
Since then, 2578 cars have been produced, the last leaving the famous Newport Pagnell factory in July 2007. It will be remembered – for all its idiosyncrasies – as Aston Martin’s car for the 21st Century, a genuine world-beating 200mph supercar, and a vital pointer to the company’s styling direction for the all-important move to Gaydon.
When Ian Callum took the rostrum he explained how he wanted the new car to be “a meeting of the DB4GT Zagato and the ‘bullish’, outgoing Aston Martin V8”. The cockpit was “like sitting in a machine” – although, to his regret, the Concept’s circular air vents made way for rectangular ones. Project Vantage may look similar to the ensuing production Vanquish but every surface was changed, including an overall increase in the door’s thickness – by 20mm – to accommodate the off-the-shelf Ford/PAG key-barrels.
With an impressive portfolio of designs to his credit, Callum proclaimed the Vanquish “my favourite”.
Bob Dover explained some of the big-business decisions behind the project, while Arthur Sinclair told of the massive production changes needed at Newport Pagnell to convert to such a hi-tech car, with its bonded chassis, carbonfibre and formed aluminium panels.
The company’s most famous client (operating in a world where secrecy should have been paramount...), James Bond, was discussed at length and one of the many videos shown included the company’s ‘pitch’ for the next 007 film, with a Vanquish powersliding its way through the snow. As the forthcoming motion picture was Die Another Day, with filming planned in Iceland and a frozen lake sequence key to the plot, the hard-bitten movie moguls took little persuading: “That’s the car for us!”. The bonnet-mounted machine guns, ‘invisibility cloak’ and spiked tyres came soon after.
The press launch, in Scotland, was veteran Ford press man Harry Calton’s job – his last before retirement. The location was at Kelso, in Scottish border country, and Calton still remembers the drive down from Edinburgh airport, with five brand-new Vanquishes in convoy.
Minards agreed that it was a memorable occasion – and not just for the cars, as the menu included “cold pea soup – the Duke of Roxburghe’s favourite”. But clearly not his.
Summing up, Ian Minards encouraged all present to “love, cherish, polish and – above all – drive” their cars, confirming that the Vanquish could never be replaced but that “the story continues”. Thanks to events such as these, it certainly does.
You can read our road test of the very last Vanquish, HERE.
Interested in buying an Aston Martin Vanquish? Please CLICK HERE to see all Vanquishes in the Classic Driver car database.
Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Classic Driver
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