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Stiff Magazine Aston Martin AMV8 at the Nurburgring

Stiff Magazine Aston Martin AMV8 at the Nurburgring

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Published by Tim Hutton
Stiff magazine takes the awesome Aston Martin AMV8 to the Nordschleife. http://www.stiffmagazine.co.uk
Stiff magazine takes the awesome Aston Martin AMV8 to the Nordschleife. http://www.stiffmagazine.co.uk

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Published by: Tim Hutton on Mar 17, 2010
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street // drift // race // life February 2010

Aston Martin & The Nurburgring

Road Trip//

Heaven & Grüne Hölle
The AMV8 is pure heaven, a car that makes grown women weak at the knees. We drive to Nurburg and the ‘Green Hell’ to discover how the beauty became a beast.
Normally when a car gets dropped off to the office a nice man drops off the keys or it gets wheeled off a trailer. Most deliveries to the Stiff office fail to raise a ripple of excitement. Today, however, is special..., everyone in the office wants to see the new arrival. A nice chap called Hugh has parked his Land Rover outside with a trailer containing one of the sexiest cars available today, the Aston Martin AMV8. It causes a big stir, even the girls who don’t like
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cars are visibly pleased to slide into the sumptuous cockpit and stroke the smooth lines of the interior, I press the stereo on and she lets out a little squeak as the tweeters rise up out of the dashboard, not just any old speakers, these are Bang and Olufson speakers. After a good hour or so of inquisitive staff and even more interested locals I set off home to pack up the car ready for the drive to one of the world’s most formidable race tracks in Germany.
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The clock shows 4am, I know this because I have been looking at it for a while unable to sleep and itching to get on the road. I have to wait for the time to become a bit more sociable so I can go and pick up my travel companion for the next few days. At well over six foot I am a little worried that he and his massive bags won’t fit into our sporty number. I need not worry though as the boot is impressively large and the leg room ample. We cut a swift line across the sleeping south coast to our first destination, Dover and the ferry port. Call me old fashioned but I love ferries. They add a sense of excitement that you don’t get when sitting in your car in a container for an hour. With breakfast tucked away we hit the roads of France and Belgium. In no great hurry we choose to see just how economic the ‘Baby

Aston’ can be. Somewhat astoundingly - and with a great deal of restraint - we managed 31mpg on the way to Nurburg. While I wouldn’t recommend that anyone drives such an amazing car with so much restraint, it is a true mark of how flexible the AMV8’s engine is, it still pulled well in top for overtaking and was as quiet as a mouse. By mid afternoon we arrive at the Nordschleife, surrounded in its usual November fog, to catch up with a few friends. We say our goodbyes and check in to the only place to stay in Nurburg, Am Tiergarten owned by the Schmitz family, yes of Sabine fame. This is a beautiful, friendly hotel with modern well equipped rooms and the bonus of housing the world famous Pistenklause restaurant and bar. No excuses for the plug as it really is that good and it has parking outside your front door!

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The next morning we take breakfast of fruit, bacon, eggs, toast, coffee, juice, the works and catch up on the previous evening’s antics and set a plan for the day ahead. Firstly we head down to the Nordschleife, sign on with the guys from RMA Trackdays and set about taking part in one of RSRs fine track talks. These take a good hour or so but if you want to survive your first time at the ring this is not to be missed. A slow lap is all we can grab with the AMV8 as I am on a promise to return the Aston home in tip top condition. In normal circumstances this could be a pain but today it really isn’t because we have a date with Wolfgang Schuhbauer, Director of the Aston Martin Testcentre and one of the four drivers of ‘Rose’ in the 2006 Nurburgring 24 hours. More of that later though.

When you walk through the doors of the Aston Martin Testcentre you are greeted by a couple of flagship models and some extremely comfy leather couches. After a few minutes we hear footsteps and through the door appears Wolfgang. We are guided to a room where in the far corner sits the legendary Rose. Not a human but the car driven at the 2006 Nurburgring 24hrs, finishing 4th in class and an amazing 24th overall. Not bad for a near production car that would then be shod with road tyres and driven back to Gaydon. Wolfgang was one of the lucky ones to get picked as one of the four drivers contesting that year’s race. His development along with that of Chris Porritt has been key in getting the AMV8 as good as it is today.

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STREET // DRIFT // RACE // LIFE

Wolfgang Schuhbauer on the AMV12 round the Nordschleife

“it’s a lot of fun”
But what about the Testcentre? It has three roles. Firstly development, using its proximity to the Nordschleife, the autobahns and the amazing B-roads. Secondly, fleet management, so while Gaydon looks after the UK cars, the Testcentre is the European hub for press and VIP cars. Thirdly, racing, whether you are lucky enough to be a ‘gentleman driver’ or just want to enter a VLN race this is where you come to make the magic happen. After our chat we take a walk around the centre where everything secret is tucked well away from our prying eyes. But we take the opportunity to have a good poke around an AMV12 and tucked away in a corner is a gorgeous DBS, looking standard from the outside, but inside it is stripped down with bucket seats and a roll cage. This is the current ring taxi and looks like a lot of fun, rather sadly though once this car has completed its innings it will be crushed. No amount of pleading that I would cherish it and never show it to anyone was going to change this rather sad outcome. I ask Wolfgang what his preferred Aston Martin is on the Nordschleife. He simply replies ‘the AMV12’, then smiles and says “it’s a lot of fun”. For 2010 the Testcentre will be busy finishing the Rapide and developing the One-77 and serving its racing customers. It’s great to see such passion and family spirit in such a global manufacturer and I really can’t wait to see the One-77 driven in anger. But for now, that a whole new story . We say our goodbyes and set off in the now gleaming AMV8 …… well it seemed silly not to get it cleaned while there!

Back at the Pistenklause for yet another steak on the stone we mull over the Aston and what makes it different from the rest in its class. For a start I don’t think there is anything else in its class. Yes it is so often compared to a 911 but that is to misjudge and undervalue a beautifully crafted, hand built super car compared with a mass manufactured high performance car. Yes the Aston was conceived to steal some of those 911

buyers, but you’re getting a lifestyle with the Aston. Respect, love, admiration and a real sense of occasion with every drive. We ignore the fuel consumption on the way home to Blighty, and while it may have cost a few more bob in petrol it produced yet another example of what makes this revised AMV8 such a great GT car. You can take it on track all day and then drive it home and it doesn’t miss a beat.

Thanks This article wouldn’t have been possible without help from the following: Kim Palmer Wolfgang Schuhbauer www.astonmartin.com Sabine Schmitz Am Tiergarten www.am-tiergarten.de Graham Clarke www.rma-limited.com

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STREET // DRIFT // RACE // LIFE

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www.stiffmagazine.co.uk

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