Vantage Zagato Twins by R-Reforged nears production | CAR Magazine

Vantage Zagato Twins by R-Reforged nears production

Published: 03 December 2020 Updated: 03 December 2020

► Aston Martin Vantage project by R-Reforged
► Smaller Vantage models in Coupe and Speedster form
► Zagato design, with mechanical upgrades underneath

To celebrate Zagato’s centenary, R-Reforged is set to follow the release of the Vanquish 25 by Callum with a pair of Vantage V12s.

Officially titled ‘Aston Martin V12 Zagato TWINS by R-Reforged’, the collaboration blends Zagato’s design with engine, aero and suspension upgrades by R-Reforged.

The process

Take a 2011 Vantage V12 Zagato Coupe, strip it down and build it back up with over 500 new components. The Milan-based design firm tweaked the looks with a new front splitter and wings, and replaced the fixed rear wing with an active one, resulting in a sleeker tail. The finished bodywork is built entirely out of carbon, with half of them remaining as a Coupe, the other, becoming an open-roofed Speedster with its stretched windscreen.

Under the skin, R-Reforged tweaked the 5.9-litre V12 and is expected to develop 80bhp more than standard, reaching 600bhp. This is thanks to an aluminium air intake and titanium exhaust, which should also deliver an exotic soundtrack to match.

The ride height is 10mm lower and the track is stretched by 20mm, with 19-inch forged wheels by APP Tech on each corner wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4s rubber.

If you want one, you’ll have to buy both the Coupe and Speedster. How’s that for a package deal? These are exclusively available as a pair, with 19 sets available for customers. The 20th set – the prototype models you see here – is reserved for the private Zagato collection and will undergo testing to calibrate the final suspension settings in Spain in early 2021.

Each will be hand-assembled by R-Reforged, taking 16 weeks each, and you can have them as matching designs or completely individual from each other, including a ‘visual carbon’ finish. The Bridge of Weir leather interior also comes in a vast range of colours, patterns and textures.

Remember the DBS GT Zagato?

Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum and R-Reforged

Tim Pollard

► New Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum
► Ex-Jaguar design chief Ian Callum’s first project
► Partnership with German race team R-Reforged

Ian Callum has revealed the production version of his revised Vanquish 25 R-Reforged. The new car features a re-remixed interior and more trim options, while the powertrain and chassis layout has been confirmed. 

Amongst the circa 350 alterations is a suspension with retuned Bilstein dampers, stiffer anti-roll bars and a 10mm lower ride height. Steering has also been tweaked by reducing the girth of the wheel – take note BMW’s M division – and the seating position has been lowered to make the driver feel more connected. 

Engineers at R-Reforged believe the new car is now a sharper GT than previously: ‘After a year of piling on the miles in our development prototype, I’m confident we’ve hit the targets we set ourselves of a very responsive but supple car,’ said head of engineering at R-Reforged, Adam Donfrancesco. 

‘There was a perception that much of what we planned was aesthetic but the way the car drives, feels, goes, stops and sounds is actually where a lot of our efforts have been focused. We’ve defined a set up that finesses the composed, big Aston Martin GT feel but sharpens and hones it in line the progress that new tyres, suspension and knowledge brings.’

As you’d expect, the Vanquish 25 retains the original car’s screaming V12 – but now gives customers a choice of manual, auto and semi-auto ‘boxes. 

‘The designers, engineers and craftspeople have poured all their energy into breathing new life into the car, pushing the boundaries of every detail: flawless surface finishes, tight shutlines and a crafted interior I believe you’ll enjoy spending time in,’ said  Callum. ‘I’m particularly impressed with how it drives. From the lower, more sculpted and cossetting seat, the crisper steering with enhanced feel to just the glorious way it sounds, I think we have created something quite special.’

What you need to know

This is the first project from the pen of Ian Callum, the former Jaguar design chief who went solo this summer and set up his own design agency and low-volume engineering consultancy. The eponymously titled Callum has now revealed its first car – the Aston Martin Vanquish 25, commissioned by R-Reforged and fully endorsed by Aston Martin.

It’s an interesting prospect, since it lets the original designer loose on one of his most distinctive models from his long and varied CV. Not many stylists enjoy this luxury. Just 25 fettled V12s will be made in a low-volume run, each featuring a series of design tweaks on customers’ own cars, or ones sourced for them.

What Ian Callum did next

Callum claims more than 100 changes, ranging from a 10mm lower ride height to new 20-inch alloy wheels, from new composite window surrounds to reprofiled carbonfibre bumpers front and rear. It’s detail stuff, but all adds up and it’s not just cosmetic changes either – the chassis and engine are heavily revised, too.

‘We’ve addressed many of the individual areas we feel deserved a second look,’ said Callum (the man). ‘The overall effect, including the stance, gives the car a new lease of life. Applying our design philosophy of balancing form and function has resulted in what we feel is the ultimate Vanquish.’

The original 520bhp V12 has been fettled to produce an extra 60bhp, through a new exhaust and breathing apparatus; there’s a choice of manual or six-speed auto gearboxes and brake feel – a weak point on the original Vanquish – is claimed to be much improved.

But hang on… Ian Callum only left Jaguar in July 2019. How has he had time to work on this project so quickly?

Good point. It’s fair to say that Callum has had a lighter hand in this project, which for the past 18 months has been steered by R-Reforged, part of Swiss race team AF Racing which runs Aston Martin’s DTM race effort and is also involved in Aston’s new mid-engined supercars and Valkyrie.

Which explains why Aston Martin has given the project its blessing. ‘I like that the Callum team’s first project is based on the original V12 Vanquish designed by Ian,’ said Marek Reichman, executive vice president in Gaydon. ‘Aston Martin Lagonda is very proud of the cars created during Ian’s time and they are an important part in both our heritage and evolution.’

What Ian Callum did next: the background to his new design agency Callum

By Lawrence Cheung

Bauer Automotive's former senior staff writer; hot hatch hoarder, road trip hunter