Bold Styling Decisions: Aston Martin One-77

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A boutique supercar from a big manufacturer, the One-77 is as beautiful as it is rare.

It's hard to say that making something unspeakably beautiful is exactly a bold decision, but Aston Martin did sidestep convention when making the One-77, and it worked. The DB9 is conventional beauty; the One-77 is something else. The One-77 is also highly exclusive for a production car, not to mention expensive. Yet it doesn't need to be unattainable to be desirable, though you might not know it from how Aston Martin treats the car.

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The One-77 made its first appearance at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, albeit under a cover that Aston called a "Savile Row tailored skirt" (safe to say they know their market) for almost the entire duration of the show. The car remained shrouded (no pun intended) in mystery until the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, where it was finally revealed in full. It has since appeared in quite a few video games and won nearly as many design awards, but only a very small number of people have ever seen one in person.The engine is based on Aston's 6.0-liter V12, but has been extensively modified and is bespoke to the One-77.

Aston worked with Cosworth to modify the design of the engine, and the result is a 7.3-liter unit that's 25 percent lighter than the original. It produces 750 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque without the aid of forced induction, and the One-77 is therefore the most powerful naturally-aspirated production car in the world. The transmission is also derived from Aston's six-speed sequential unit, but has been understandably beefed up to deal with all of the extra power now coming from the engine. It runs from zero to sixty in just 3.5 seconds, and will hit a top speed of 221mph. The One-77 can outrun anything it can't out-pretty, and that isn't much.

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Helping the car with this speed is its relatively low weight, coming in at 3,300lbs. This is achieved through the extensive use of carbon fiber, as one might imagine. The One-77 is shorter than Aston's bigger GT models, and is lower and wider than anything else in the Aston stable. A special set of carbon ceramic brakes were also developed just for the One-77, designed with maximum cooling efficiency in mind, as well as keeping heat from being transmitted to the brake fluid. The One-77 had an ultra-exclusive production run of just 77 units, and of these, 7 cars were given a further limited edition treatment by Aston Martin's Q program.

This hardly seems necessary, but they wouldn't have done it if they couldn't have sold them. The price for the "base" car is $1.4 million, but Aston supplies a long list of options, and they are willing to work with any customer who has the money for further special requests. Even without making any custom requests, the One-77 can easily be optioned up to about $2 million. That's right, Aston offers two Rolls-Royce Phantom's worth of options for the car. The idea being that Aston doesn't want any two One-77s to be the same, a difficult task even with such a limited production run.

With its price, the One-77 draws unavoidable comparisons to the Bugatti Veyron. For those to whom exclusivity is paramount, the One-77 scores some serious points over the Veyron. We've seen some impressive one-off Veryrons (such as the sublimely beautiful L'Or Blanc), a couple dozen of them in fact, but the majority of the production run is differentiated primarily by paint color alone. That said, the Veyron is faster, so you'd have to ask yourself what is more important. Cars like this are rare, and not just in the sense that very few examples are made. Boutique carmakers will often offer huge lists of customization options.

When each car is built by hand by a group of a couple dozen people, it's easy to make some tweaks here and there, especially when you're charging huge sums of money for it. Just look at the Spyker C8, few cars have longer options lists than that. But big automakers don't take the boutique approach very often, and even Rolls-Royce doesn't offer as much customization as, say, Dartz (although, in all fairness, Rolls-Royce does offer more subtlety, if less insanity). This production approach runs counter to the principals of manufacturing efficiency which have been gospel for the automotive industry since the Model T.

This is one of the more remarkable aspects of the One-77, the fact that it was built by Aston Martin. Of course, this still comes a distant second to the design itself. The One-77 is impressive in several different ways, but the design itself is one of those rare instances where the unusual and the beautiful are one and same; the very definition of exotic.

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