The world of ultra-high-performance cars is an odd one. Stratospheric prices and tiny production runs mean few will ever see one on the move; fewer still experience one from the driver’s seat. The relentless march of progress pushes their specs further and further to the edge; 400hp might have seemed more than you’d ever need in the 1970s but would now be barely adequate in a sporting sedan.
And they often act as harbingers for impending global catastrophe—just look at the timing of the Ferrari Daytona or McLaren F1.
In the current era, we had to find a new term to even describe these four-wheeled exotics. Calling them supercars no longer sufficed, so now we have the hypercar. A few years ago, McLaren, Ferrari, and Porsche kicked things off with a trio of hybrids, each costing more than a million dollars and each nearing 1,000hp.
As you can imagine in this kind of arms race, the next tranche of hypercars will be even more powerful and even more expensive. Each of the big three currently in gestation has a link to Formula 1. Mercedes-Benz has taken its multiple championship-winning hybrid powertrain and wrapped it in a two-seater body, calling it the Project One. McLaren—which has a Formula 1 team, barely—has taken the three-seater layout from its almighty F1 of the 1990s for the Speedtail. And Aston Martin has teamed up with Red Bull and legendary designer Adrian Newey for the Valkyrie.
There has been much speculation about that last one. We’ve got a good idea of what it will look like, as Aston Martin started sharing some images even when it was called the RB-001. But there was a lot more mystery about the engine and hybrid system. Well, on Tuesday we got a little more info. It will indeed feature a V12 gasoline engine paired to an as-yet unannounced hybrid system. And that V12 should be quite an engine.
Built by another F1 legend—Cosworth Engineering—it’s a naturally aspirated 6.5L V12 with a 65˚ bank angle. At 10,500rpm it will generate 1,000hp (746kW), with another 500rpm to go before the rev limiter kicks in. Peak torque arrives a bit before that, 545lb-ft (740Nm) at 7,000rpm. And if that sounds low, remember there will be some electric motors to boost things even higher. And it does all that while still meeting emissions regulations.
Many of the engine’s internals are machined from blocks of metal, like the titanium conrods, F1-spec pistons, and a crankshaft that takes six months to create, starting out as a solid steel bar 6.7 inches (170mm) in diameter and 30.5 inches (775mm) long. As with every F1 car since the Lotus 49 back in 1968, the engine is a fully stressed member, meaning it’s bolted directly to the firewall behind the cockpit.
Just 150 Valkyries will be built, with deliveries starting in 2020.