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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum Modernizes the Classic with Aston's Blessing

  • Ian Callum, the former styling chief of Jaguar and Aston Martin, told C/D he was going to create modern versions of cars he previously designed, and here's the first one.
  • The Vanquish 25 gets a revised V-12 and other updates but won't be turned into a 2020 car; for instance, it doesn't have stability control.
  • Price is around $670,000, but after all, that includes the cost of the base Vanquish.

We told you about Ian Callum's decision to launch Callum, his eponymous consulting and design business, back in July. Now we are getting a chance to see what the former Jaguar and Aston Martin styling boss has been working on. It's a restyled and updated version of a car that he led the creation of, the first Aston Martin Vanquish.

Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum

This isn't just a custom shop restomod. The car will be produced in collaboration with AF Racing under the R-Reforged brand, which it has already used for its own versions of two Aston Martin Zagato models. AF also runs Aston's works DTM program. The Callum Vanquish is being done with the full approval of Aston Martin itself, with the brand's current creative director Marek Reichmann giving his personal endorsement.

Callum describes this car as being the facelift that the car never lived long enough to receive. "I bought [a Vanquish] a couple of years ago and started to think about it," he told Car and Driver. "The car was only produced for six years—quite a short life—and I started to think in terms of doing the things to it that I always wanted to."

The idea grew into creating the business case for a limited run of 25 cars, each one effectively fully rebuilt around the specific requirements of its buyer and with substantive changes made from the basic car. So this is far more than a respray or restomod update. It is also set to carry a very serious price: the equivalent of about $670,000 at current exchange rates, although that does include the cost of the base Vanquish. Callum says it will be possible for overseas customers to order a conversion for any existing Vanquish, although there will obviously be additional costs in returning cars to the U.K. when they're located in faraway places—the United States, for instance.

Design changes include substantial work to both exterior and interior. At the front, the Callum Vanquish gets a new split-level radiator grille, which also replaces the lower lighting units the original car wore on its front bumpers with venting ducts for the front brakes. Chrome has been swapped out for darker materials, and front and rear lights are now LED units. The rear bumper has been cut back to allow fitment of a far larger diffuser, with Callum saying the revised car has far better aerodynamic performance. At the side, the scalloped shape of the Vanquish's sills has been filled in with new metal surfacing, and the original door mirrors—which were shared with the contemporary Jaguar XK—have been changed to bespoke units.

"I wanted to take it to the next level," he said. "The front end is definitely stronger and more intimidating. The other thing to bear in mind is that since I designed the original, I have improved as well."

Callum's Aston Vanquish 25 Facelifts the Classic

Much bigger changes have been made inside the Vanquish's cabin. Callum admits that budgetary constraints led to the plastic-heavy interior of the original Vanquish. There is an all-new center binnacle replacing the Jaguar XK–sourced switchgear of the original Vanquish, with a touchscreen interface and new air vents. Aluminum trim helps define the shape of the console, and the doors get new cards trimmed, like the seats, in high-grade leather. We're told to think of the pattern—in reference to Callum's Scottish origins—as being "deconstructed tartan." The rear seats are gone, replaced by fitted leather luggage created by Mulberry. Callum said this is the correction of a historic mistake: "The car was never meant to have back seats. They appeared halfway through the project; it was probably a marketing decision."

If that's not enough, the dashboard's centerpiece is a mechanical watch created by British brand Bremont, which can be removed from the car to be worn separately. The same company has also redesigned the car's instrument cluster.

There have been some comprehensive mechanical changes. Callum plans to offer the Vanquish 25 with a choice of three different transmissions: the original automated single-clutch Speedshift system that was fitted to the car from new, the manual conversion that is already offered by Aston Martin’s heritage Works division, and the third option of a six-speed torque-converter automatic.

While Callum says he is actually a fan of the Speedshift and experiences it every day in his own Vanquish, he admits the conventional auto may have broader appeal. "It wouldn't be my personal choice. It's a bit genteel for me, but for people who do a lot of town driving, it will be the best option."

The 6.0-liter V-12 engine has been given a package of revisions, including a new induction and exhaust system and changes to the top end of the motor—which we're taking to mean new camshafts—which boost power by 60 hp, to 580 hp. There are also chassis tweaks, under the direction of Callum engineering boss Adam Donfrancesco, including an 0.4-inch reduction in ride height, new springs and dampers, stiffer sway bars, and a switch to modern Aston carbon-ceramic brakes. Wheels are 20-inch forged alloys wrapped by Michelin Pilot Sport tires.

The upgrades have only gone so far. The Vanquish 25 still doesn’t have stability control, as the original car only had less advanced traction management. "It will be a better car, no question," said Callum. But: "Will it be up to the standards of today's GT cars? That's difficult to say. I think its appeal will be different. You have to do it in the context of what it is, you can't just throw massive statements of 2020 styling over it. That's not what this car is about."

While Callum admits that other cars from his star-filled back catalog may become the basis for future R-Reforged Callum models, he doesn't feel that his new business needs to be limited to working on his own projects. Ultimately, his personal ambition is to create something truly new.

"I'd like to think one day we could do a complete body, as coachbuilders used to do," he said. "There's no reason why we shouldn't. That's not a current plan, but it's certainly an objective."



By: Car and Driver

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