Aston Martin Vanquish Centenary

Potent package now available with a few added extras

Price: £210,000
Engine: 6.0 litres, V12
Power: 563bhp @6700rpm
Torque: 457lb ft @5500rpm
Transmission: six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive

0-62mph: 4.1sec
Top Speed: 183mph
Economy: 19.6mpg
CO2: 335g/km

We’re barely halfway through the year and I’m already bored to tears with anniversaries of this, that and everything else. Everyone from Porsche to Caterham, Lamborghini to Le Mans seems to have some big birthday to crow about. But at least in numerical terms, the 100th anniversary of Aston Martin would seem to be the biggest of all.

And, I guess, the most remarkable given how close to the edges of so many cliffs the company has teetered in that time. Who would have bet 10, 20 or 30 years ago that Aston Martin would be the sole volume supercar producer (as opposed to manufacturers like Pagani or Koenigsegg with single or double digit annual production numbers) not to be owned by a large, automotive multinational. For better or worse, Aston Martin has always had a habit of doing things its way.

To celebrate, it has produced centenary editions of all its cars, produced naturally in batches of 100 each. For the flagship Vanquish, the centenary modifications include a bonnet that fades to grey as it nears the windscreen, and solid silver badging complete with hallmarks that should ensure it is parked in only the best places away from jemmy-wielding bullion fans. Inside there is a rich, deep leather hitherto seen only on the ultra-exclusive One-77 supercar. Centenary buyers also receive sundry silver goodies such as a pen and cuff-links and some Bang 8c Olufsen headphones to go with its Bang 8c Olufsen stereo.

What Aston Martin has not felt inclined to do is enhance the mechanical specification of any of its centenary machines despite, in the case of the Vanquish, asking almost another £20,000 for the car.

That won’t stop it selling, or at least it shouldn’t. Fast though it is, an Aston Vanquish is a vanity product and it’s hard to see anyone minded to buy one this year being sufficiently price-sensitive not to opt for a Centenary model. Over time, they are bound to hold their values better than their mechanically identical but less chintzy standard stable-mates.

I didn’t drive it much, just a few laps of a drenched track during the course of which I managed to push it past 160mph, spin it and discover that while a Ferrari F12 is a better car in every measurable way that matters to me, I no longer see it as a close rival. The Ferrari is a tool, a weapon even, and it does the job of being an ultra-high performance, long-distance sports car better than any other I know. By contrast the Vanquish is an event, a celebration of a certain approach to the provision of pleasure behind the wheel that Aston Martin has been providing for most of its 100 years. It might be more difficult to measure, but it’s no less real for that.

Andrew Frankel