The One-77 is the sort of car around which legends are spun. One customer, so the story went, bought a second example just so he could have it stripped down to its naked carbonfibre tub, with the sole intention of displaying it in his home as a piece of art. Another bought not one, not two, but ten cars. More than one buyer insisted that their One-77s forgo the usual pre-delivery test drive so that they could be delivered – and inevitably salted away in dehumidified storage – with zero miles on the clock. All good stories, and all, as far as we can ascertain, true.
All of which appears to confirm the suspicion that cars like the One-77 – billed as the fastest and most expensive Aston ever, and limited to just 77 examples – are bought primarily as investments. Nothing wrong with that, it’s their money, etc, etc. Except that the One-77, perhaps above all supercars, was conceived and engineered for the sheer thrill of driving. Thankfully, other buyers appreciated that fact and have driven their cars long and hard on both road and track, as we shall hear.
One of the reasons that legends sprung up around the One-77 was that the motoring media were denied access to the car by Aston Martin. This caused no little angst and gave rise, in turn, to some actual myths. Aston, it was said, didn’t want anyone to drive the car because [stage whisper] it wasn’t very good. What other reason could their be? After all, even Bugatti did press launches. Motoring hacks, sceptical animals at the best of times, smelled a rat. But their olfactory sensors were wonky. Aston’s rationale was simple: as each and every One-77 had a buyer long before the production run was complete, press coverage was something they could happily live without.
Fortunately, a couple of owners were willing to allow a small handful of journalists – and thus, vicariously, the rest of us – to discover the truth. And when the lucky few did get their mitts on the One-77’s eccentrically shaped wheel with its squared-off, Alcantara-trimmed sides (apparently much nicer to hold than it sounds) they found it to be truly astounding.
Harry Metcalfe, then editorial director of evo magazine and one of the few members of the motoring media who might conceivably have been in the market for the ultimate Aston, was blown away by the visceral nature of its performance and by the challenge it presented.
‘There’s nothing quite like a car that can spin its wheels in a straight line at beyond motorway speeds to grab your attention,’ he wrote. ‘Yes, it’s demanding to get right and I haven’t quite mastered it yet, but I’m desperately keen to learn. I bet some of the owners won’t be up to it and will either abandon their One-77 to gather dust in a collection or sell it on as quickly as possible. But they’d be missing the point, because this is a monster of a car – over-powered yet impossibly charismatic.’
What made it so? A fusion of state-of-the-art technology with time-honoured craftsmanship. So the supremely stiff and light (just 180kg) carbonfibre tub was skinned with hand-crafted aluminium: those extraordinary front wings were each formed from a single piece, and each took three weeks to shape and perfect.
Aston’s 5.9-litre V12 was comprehensively reworked by Cosworth Engineering. It was bored and stroked to 7.3 litres, its weight reduced by 60kg, mostly by re-engineering the internals, which in turn allowed it to rev higher; it was dry-sumped, and the compression ratio was up to 10.9:1. The quoted peak power was 750bhp, though once the engines were run-in they were typically producing 770bhp, an extraordinary figure for a naturally aspirated engine (indeed the most ever recorded at the time). Not the least remarkable thing about this monster of an engine was that it had to retain the durability and emissions compliance of Aston’s series-production units.
Perhaps the one area where the One-77 looked off-the-pace on paper was in its transmission. Where dual-clutch gearboxes had become the norm, the One-77 had a six-speed single-clutch automated manual. Sure enough, with a twin-plate semi-race clutch, it was the one area that attracted criticism, low-speed take-up being afflicted by a degree of stuttering.
No problems once it hits its stride, though. A 0-100mph time of 6.9sec was recorded during testing, which put the Aston in the top echelon. Top speed was quoted as 220mph-plus.
Suspension followed race-car practice, with fully adjustable inboard spring/damper units. Engineers spent time with each customer, fine-tuning the settings to suit their own tastes and driving style. The very brave could turn the DSC to track mode, or switch it off altogether.
The production run began in 2010 and the final car was delivered in August 2012. Out of the 77 cars built, only nine are right-hand drive. With a broad palette of paint and trim colours, no two One-77s are alike, though options were limited to special metals for the switchgear: gold (£40,000), dark chrome (£30,000) or ruthenium (£15,000). The original list price was £1.05 million plus local taxes, but this rose to £1.15m in 2011, which for a UK buyer meant £1.38m once the VAT was added.
What’s the market like today? Bonhams recently offered no.25, a Swiss-registered, 850km, one-owner example, with an estimate of £1.4-1.8 million at it's Monaco auction. Meanwhile the car pictured here, with similarly low miles, was in the process of being sold by Aston Martin Works ‘within that sort of range’. Earlier this year, London-based Joe Macari sold another low-miler, the advertised price: £1.7m. Not too many bargains to be had then…
As more supercars use forced induction or hybrid power, the One-77 will stand as the most wonderful monument to the visceral appeal of a vast, hugely powerful, high-revving, naturally aspirated petrol engine. Aston’s new hypercar will be a very different animal. No doubt faster still and with its own unique challenges and rewards. But safe to say we’ll never see anything quite like the One-77 again.
This is an article about the model Aston Martin One-77
This is an article about the engine Aston Martin Cosworth