Callum is proud of the car, of course; it was one of the earliest designs for which he drew practically every line. It led Aston’s change to modern construction methods and it’s a timeless shape that has matured beautifully over its 20-year life.
However, there were always things the designer simply didn’t like: the old-tech lights, the lower lamps he inherited from the DB7 V12, the mirrors, the chromework, the “timid” wheels, the too-narrow tracks that didn’t quite fill the arches, and the nose and tail designs that he felt needed “more teeth”. Most of all, he was disappointed with the interior; the design theme was decent but the execution was less about craftsmanship than using existing facilities to get cars out of the door.
All of which is why Callum last year revealed, after he moved on from a distinguished 20-year career as the head of Jaguar design, that the first project for the new design business he promptly launched would be a batch of 25 revised Vanquishes. They would be produced at a new studio in Warwick and be backed by the Swiss R-Reforged group that makes a speciality of high-quality, bespoke products of all kinds – not just cars.
Now the building of Callum Vanquishes has begun. The details of the interior revisions, trim options and the definitive chassis and engine specifications have now all been decided by Callum and Adam Donfrancesco, the project’s head of engineering. At the Warwick headquarters a couple of weeks ago, the pair of them offered us a socially distanced meeting, a car viewing and an exclusive drive.
“We’ve made a grand total of 350 changes,” Callum says, “introducing a level of craftsmanship you simply can’t get in normal production cars – even supercars. The idea is to chase even the smallest details. Only the panelwork remains the same. Our idea is to build a show car for every customer.”
When you approach the 2020 Vanquish, its quality hits you immediately. The lustre of the paint, the richness of the black chrome window surrounds, the new stance on more prominent wheels… they all modernise it. “I’m 20 years older than when I did this first,” says Callum, “and quite a lot has happened in the meantime. Life and fashion are different now. When the chance came to reconsider the car, I could see immediately what it needed.”
The 5.9-litre Aston V12 engine gets light modifications (as well as a superb set of specially machined air intake stacks for beauty reasons) so that it now produces 580bhp – an extra 60bhp. Buyers can opt for a six-speed manual or conventional eight-speed automatic gearbox, or stick with the original car’s six-speed automated manual. Despite the bad publicity, some prefer that.