This Is The OEM-Quality V8 Vantage Rally Car That Aston Martin Never Built
Photography by Ted Gushue
Aston Martin has built a well-earned reputation as the preeminent British grand tourer—no matter which iteration of Vantage, Vanquish, or DB you choose nowadays—but the ability to cruise down the A1 or the undulating country roads off in the distance should not shroud the motorsport pedigree of the company that won at Le Mans less than a month ago. The wins are still being stacked on top of a strong foundation built on the back of the DBR1.
Aston Martin’s ongoing Valkyrie project proves their pursuit of performance extends beyond the track, with the upcoming hypercar (which is seemingly so hyper that it may usher in a new prefix) set to join its GT relatives on public roads in a few years, but what about the brand’s poise when the tarmac is left behind? What about rallying?
Does a proper British Racing Green Aston look better covered in strakes of mud or skimming the curbing on a properly-graded circuit? Well, there are no works cars partaking in the former (not since the weird little flash-in-the-pan project that saw Aston Martin run a handful of DB2/4s for the Monte Carlo Rallye in 1955), and the one that is currently churning dirt isn’t wearing the traditional racing color of Britain, nor does it hail from there.
The Finns at Mäkelä Auto-Tuning (MAT) have been creating and campaigning race cars since 1978, and in the decades since then they’ve also morphed into a source of top-tier restorations and recreations. A visit to their projects page gives a nice crash course: inside you’ll find Group B Audis, a handful of Group 4-spec Ferrari 308s (some set up for rallying), a genuine MG Metro 6R4, Lancia Integrales and S4s, Listers, Jags, Porsches, Mercedes’, an Escort-rally-car-powered Ford Model A, and even an ex-Stalin ZIZ from the ‘40s. And of course, the V8 Vantage ex-GT4 car pictured.
Built to run in the relatively recent FIA category called “Group R-GT” on tarmac rounds of the WRC, this project began as a circuit racer and in only a few months’ time, MAT stripped the car of its former life and went about injecting a bit of rallying functionality. It’s a total trip, seeing an Aston Martin fitted with ice-racing spikes and the ubiquitous white monobloc Compomotive wheels (which were not on the car recently at the Festival of Speed) underneath jacked up fenders with a huge skid plate to pick up whatever slack is left by the robust suspension changes. The photo gallery of the build process is 177 images long, and can be found here. If you’re going to click through one internet slideshow today, let it be this one. And if you’d rather see it in action, have at it!