Building Aston Martin's awesome Vulcan racecar (pictures)
Meet the Aston Martin Vulcan -- the most powerful car ever built by the world-famous manufacturer. Built entirely by hand in a secret production facility near Warwick, England, separate from the company's regular operations, this racing beast boasts some astonishing vital statistics. Its engine produces 800 horsepower, it'll do 0-60 mph in only 3 seconds and it can hit a top speed of over 200 mph. Only 24 Vulcans will ever be made and they're all built almost entirely from lightweight, high strength carbon fibre.
Perhaps its most eye-watering figure, however, is its £1.5 million asking price -- that's about $2.15 million or AU$3.06 million.
We got up close and personal with this automotive monster during its production, so click through to see what lurks under the hood.
Don't expect to see one pulling up at the traffic lights next to you. Quite apart from the rarity of the vehicle, the Vulcan is designed specifically for the racetrack, rather than for cruising around the countryside. It's designed by Aston Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman, who also created the Aston Martin DBS, the One 77, and James Bond's very own DB10, seen in the movie "Spectre".
Reichman says the design of the Vulcan hints at the next generation of Aston Martin sports cars.
Eight technicians are responsible for constructing the Vulcan, each of whom were specially selected from Aston's existing engineering team due to their experience in motorsport. It takes over 390 man-hours to bolt it all together by hand.
Almost all of the car is made from carbon fibre, which is both extremelystrong and lightweight.
The immense brake discs are made from racing-grade carbon ceramic, which can withstand the extreme temperatures generated under hard braking. They measure 380mm in diameter -- I've wedged my iPhone 6S Plus in place for size comparison.
The brakes have their own dedicated cooling systems.
The wheels surrounding the brakes are equally immense, with thin spokes that help save weight. The Michelin tyres are designed specifically for racing.
By maximising the surface area, the extra wide able to achieve more grip on the road. Again, I've used the 6S Plus as a size comparison.
Aston Martin will also provide the owner with different types of tyres for different racing surfaces.
It takes around four days for a specialist carbon-fibre production team to produce the carbon-fibre components in the engine. This won't be cheap to fix should you crash.
Building a seriously cool car requires a seriously cool face mask.
Here it is in its dark green and blue paint job. Aston Martin says there's an almost infinite range of possibilities for paint colour and trim options. I'd be interested to meet the person who'd spend millions on a racecar and have it painted hot pink.
I present the classic Aston Martin logo. If you have this on your car, you're probably quite pleased with yourself.
All of the engineers working on the Vulcan build have extensive experience with racing engineering for a variety of teams and manufacturers. They don't just specialise in one part of the process either -- they're each capable of working on every part of the car.
It's a tight fit inside the cabin after you squeeze in through the integrated roll cage. The cage is made from aero-grade steel and weighs 32 kg (70 pounds).
The brake lights are made up of these slightly odd-looking red plastic teeth.
When the LED lights behind them light up, however, they glow vividly.
One of the engineers hooks up a laptop to the car to run a host of tests on the internal electronics. The performance and handling of the car can be tailored to the skill of the driver.
Even this toolbox is Aston branded.
You won't find huge touchscreens with sat-nav and sound systems on board -- this car is all about the track. Instead, toggle switches perform most operations.
A giant, powerful engine needs giant, powerful cooling. These massive fans (iPhone 6S Plus for comparison) pull in vast amounts of air to keep the motor running.
An engineer pours high-performance oil into the engine before it's first fired up.
The engineers have on hand row upon row of nuts, bolts and various other pieces. If this shelf unit ever collapsed it would take an age to reorganise.
The steering wheel has now been attached. It's smaller than you'd find in standard road cars, but perfectly suited to racing.
All cars should come with a massive red button on the steering wheel that says "start".
It's a vast bonnet to lift up. If you've paid millions for your car, though, you'd probably have a team of people to do this for you.
It's an aggressive looking beast from the back. The fins on the bottom help channel the air, while the wing provides downforce, keeping the rear wheels pressed firmly into the tarmac.
The car is fitted with a wide array of safety features. None are as important as the emergency fire extinguisher.
Vulcan owners will be trained in how to properly race their cars by Aston Martin's own training team. They'll start off in lower-powered cars such as the V12 Vantage S (itself a phenomenally powerful beast) before letting the Vulcan loose on the track.
Here's the six-speed gearbox. This alone costs around £15,000 ($21,500, AU$30,600) which is morethan a lot of small cars.
The car is fed petrol manually when in the workshop.
The Vulcan has two exhausts -- one on each side of the car, poking out from under a vented tube of carbon fibre.
Fire extinguishers are kept nearby during production -- particularly once the petrol has been poured inside the engine.
There's a screen in the dashboard showing all kinds of telemetry about the car from oil pressure to braking performance. There's no option, however, to watch "Spongebob" while you're hurtling around the track. Perhaps for the best.
The suspension and the dampers can be fine tuned quickly to suit the racing style of the driver.