Freshly restored by Tim Samways' Sporting & Historic Cars equipe, I have the huge honour of testing and developing this stunning and iconic 1974 Alfa Romeo TT12 on behalf of its owner. Think Targa Florio, Daytona, Nurburgring... Merzario, Brambilla, Mass and Bell. Legendary races, legendary pilots. I deliberately use the word 'pilots' rather than 'drivers' because the TT12 looks, feels and sounds far more like something about to take flight, than something designed explicitly to stick to the road. I know of no other car - and I mean literally, not one - that sounds so ear-splittingly orgasmic from the driver's seat. The first time I drove it, I forgot to wear my ear plugs and I could barely complete the lap back to pits for fear of permanently damaging my hearing. The sheer volume of that normally-aspiratied, 3.0 litre flat-12 is extraordinary. The induction noise is symphonic, and the burbly overrun spine-tingling. So turn your speaker up FULL, because they simply don't make 'em like this anymore. Enjoy...
So here it is, as promised, my review for Heritage Aston Martin dealers, Nicholas Mee & Co, of the brutal Aston Martin V8 Vantage 'Le Mans'. Appropriately timed as we look forward to this weekend's 24 Heures du Mans, I only wish they'd have let me keep it for the journey down. We had one helluva time shooting this car, I thoroughly enjoyed it - and frankly was blown away by its versatility. You can read my full review in their excellent magazine, Full Bore (download it here), but first - turn your speakers up, and enjoy the full film review below.
See the car listing on Nicholas Mee's website here
Download entire Full Bore Magazine by Nicholas Mee & Co
Download Aston Martin V8 Vantage Le Mans article by Sam Hancock only
At the Rockingham Motor Speedway today, famous for being one of the few American style banked speedways in Europe and certainly the only one in the UK used for contemporary racing. There to test a 1981 Ferrari 512 BBLM in preparation for Le Mans Classic next month, I was eager to see if the boys at Tim Samways' excellent preparations co. had managed to solve some fuel pressure issues that had been bugging us recently in Spa. I'm happy to report that they had, and we had a successful day's testing. The car was pretty wild up there on the banked Turn 1, the huge weight of that V12 really making itself apparent - got a little loose at times! But then quite fun hustling the car through the infield, which is probably a little too tight and bumpy for this kind of machine. Some further set-up work should improve it further but otherwise it's good to go for Le Mans!
Having just submitted my write up of the limited-edition 1999 Aston Martin V8 Vantage 'Le Mans', I am nervously awaiting the final edit of the film we shot while testing the car. Invited by noted Aston Martin heritage dealers, Nicholas Mee & Co, to try the car at Longcross Proving Ground last week, it was the first time I've not only conducted the track test, but written the script and presented my story to camera. It's an astonishing car with a lovely history. Built to commemorate the 40th anniversary of 1959 Aston Martin's Le Mans win, just 40 were made, each with frankly absurd amounts of power.
You'll have to wait for final publication to read my full findings, but suffice to say I was rather impressed. A luxurious lover and bruising fighter all at once, it must be the most versatile car of all but the last few years. Like a lot of cars from the nineties, it's been strangely overlooked by the collecting community up to now, but I suspect it's time has come. Stay peeled for the full edit...
Sometimes I have to pinch myself. Yesterday was one of those days, arriving at Pembrey in Wales to find not one, but two, insanely exciting cars, neither of which I'd driven in the past. The first, a Porsche 935 Turbo - aka "Whale Tale" - that so inspired sportscar racing fans of the seventies with it's sheer absurdity. Barely recognisable from the humble 911 that forms its base, the 935 is absurdly wide, absurdly powerful (the team reckoned 700+bhp, they weren't sure!), and absurdly AWESOME. There to help coach the owner and provide some thoughts on set-up, I wondered how such monster could ever be tamed on the relatively little Pembrey circuit in Wales. Watch the video to find out how it went. I wish I'd had a mic in the helmet because I was honestly giggling like a school girl most of the time - it must be the only car ever to have made me literally laugh out loud while accelerating!
Second up, the breathtaking ex-works, Rothmans Porsche 956 - the car that finished third overall at Le Mans in 1982 when Porsche's brace of three factory-entered cars filled the podium. Make no mistake, having whiled-away many an hour making models and drawing pictures of this car as a kid, this was dream come true territory for me. Sadly, our running was inhibited by mechanical gremlins that prevented a proper run (hence no sensible onboard to share), but nonetheless just to be sat at that wheel, with that view, was truly sensational... and totally counts;)