Aston Martin is eager to prove that it's road cars are reliable machines. One way to do that is to simply put a Honda or Toyota badge on the front. That won't work here though. The other way to prove reliability is by taking your toys and going racing with them. In 2006, that's exactly what Aston Martin did and the British automaker didn't start with a measly one or two hour sprint around a local proving ground or circuit. No, they packed up their truck, their team, their car, and they pointed it towards Germany's Nürburgring.
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The car in question is a 2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage. It started life as a development car. This meant it spent most of said life inside a building, driving on a fake road so that engineers could monitor it. That wasn't going to be its final fate though, as it was plucked from this life with the goal of getting it ready to go racing. A cage was installed in the cabin while a large portion of the interior was stripped out. Still, this is a road-legal machine, and it retained the stock gauges, pedals, dashboard, and bits of center trim. It also used the standard six-speed manual gearbox and 4.3-liter V-8 engine.
Aston Martin put their car and team on the grid alongside 140 other teams. This was to be a true test of the car, the crew, and the drivers behind the wheel. Out of those 141 total entries, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage finished 24th overall. In it's SP8 class, the car wound up fourth. That's one hell of an accomplishment when you consider it's an achievement to merely finish the Nürburgring 24 Hour race.
I traveled to Germany to sample this amazing machine. Her name is Rose, and she's actually still street legal. That meant I'd be driving her on the streets around the 'Ring, as the place was a bit busy preparing for the start of the 2015 running of the N24 race. Rose is loud, brash, her brakes squeal, and she is not possessing of the normal finish one would expect of a standard road car from Gaydon. None of that matters though, because she's a true stunner.
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Aston Martin's English Rose means a lot to the brand. The entry was originally conceived as a passion project for one of the automakers engineers. He tried for years to convince the men in charge that they should be competing on such a level. This was met with resistance, not because the higher ups didn't want to go racing, but because they were waiting for the right time and the right car. 2006 was the right time, and the V8 Vantage proved to be the right car.
Years later, Aston Martin is still running strong at the Nürburgring 24 Hour race... and all of their cars in the 2015 N24 event owe their existence to Rose.