The exhilaration of speed or, as some might put it, “the need for speed” is more deep-seated in England than almost anywhere else on earth. Even the legendary engineer George Stephenson named one of his first locomotives “The Rocket”. The fascinating unit of horsepower (HP) also has its origins in the era of the steam engine; it managed to establish itself as the reference standard for the car in general language usage over the more banal unit of “kW”.
It soon became clear that the first non-tracked automobiles were not only judged for their power. Hence, the relatively under-motorised Mini Cooper became very successful in motor sports thanks to its agile handling properties. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Eibach company – which can look back on decades of experience in motor racing and in suspension design for regular road cars – uses the advertising slogan “Horsepower for the turns” in America.
The quintessence of these efforts – a combination of technical fascination and the endeavour for speed – is currently the Eibach Vantage V8 HP400+ project vehicle which has been realised with the cooperation of the technology partners Prodrive, Pirelli and Alpine Electronics. It makes an appearance as stylish as a gentleman’s suit from London’s Bond Street, and its performance is as superior as the unbeatable cheese rolling races from Gloucestershire. This is no joke, by the way: for years, this rolling food has been winning every mountain race against its human competitors, who try to catch it on its uncontrolled roll down a steep hill.
“The Will To Win” is also a characteristic of the Eibach V8 HP400+. Rail vehicles and the rolling cheese (not to forget many automobile competitors) are lacking the precision of almost-perfect handling properties. With its minimum body roll tendency and optimum steering behaviour, the suspension impresses with its Eibach Pro-Kit Performance Springs which brings the high-performance sports car by 10 mm closer to the road at the front and 5 mm at the rear. Thanks to the progressive design, the springs become tighter with increasing deflection and always ensure optimum traction. Electronically adjustable shock absorbers made by Bilstein assist a razor-sharp cornering speed: the driver can change the characteristics at the click of the switch from the cockpit at any time.
Another convincing dimension is the extreme residual comfort offered by the car. Whereas the track determines where the train goes to, with Eibach the driver has everything under control: in addition to the Pro-Kit, the Eibach Anti-Roll-Kit – developed specifically for this car – ensures that practically every manoeuvre can be performed with a minimum of body roll. The Performance Stabilizer Bars are made from high-strength tubular steel whose cavity also keeps the total car’s weight low.
Eibach Pro-Spacer, made from aluminium, further improve the road stability and give the Aston Martin Vantage V8 an appearance as far removed from a narrow-gauge railway as the bottom of the Marianas Trench is from Mount Everest. This was first climbed in 1953 by a British expedition. In the guise of the Prodrive company, the Britons reached a further peak in the broader sense of the word with the Eibach V8 HP400+, namely when it comes to power – let’s not forget that the HP in the project name stands not only for high performance but also for a good dose of horsepower: the result is around 425 bhp (431 DIN-PS) which the tuning team – with whom Eibach also cooperates in the Aston Martin Racing project – gets out of the eight-cylinder engine (series: 380 bhp - 385 DIN-PS) of this Vantage V8.
Prodrive did not scrimp when it came to torque either, providing the Aston Martin with an increase from 410 to 440Nm. The result of these impressive figures is a top speed faster by 15km/h, i.e. 295km/h, and an acceleration time improved by three-tenths – making a total of only 4.7 seconds from 0 to 100km/h! With so much power under its bonnet, the high-performance sports car possesses perfected aerodynamics. Following extensive tests in the wind tunnel and using computer simulations, Prodrive managed to reduce the high speed lift by 45%. To this end, a front lip and an effective rear spoiler are used – both of which are made from the high-strength material carbon fibre which is also very light.
The weight of the unsprung masses is also crucial to the optimum handling of the car. Rims as big as those on a freight wagon yet light as a feather? No problem! Prodrive uses 19-inch forged wheels made from light metal which reduce the weight by approx. 1kg per wheel compared to standard wheels. Add to this the formidable design which pays homage to the Aston Martin DBR9 GT1.
Whereas locomotives scatter sand to overcome traction problems, Eibach prefers to rely on its tyre partner Pirelli, which uses the P-ZERO CORSA system with tyre mixing: CORSA Direzionale in the dimensions 245/40ZR19 XL TL AM8 on the front axle and CORSA Asimmetrico in 285/35ZR19 XL TL AM8 on the rear axle. With its ultra-efficient lateral water expulsion capacity, the Direzionale prepares the road surface for the Asimmetrico, allowing it to maximise grip, and thus, driver safety. The rubber compound is a result of Pirelli’s experiences in motor sport.
In days gone by, steam engines were very noisy – as were automobiles, too. The entire, unbridled power of the Eibach V8 HP400+, however, comes across as a melodious sound. The Prodrive exhaust system, which is volume-controllable via an automatic override option for the exhaust valve, makes an important contribution towards this lovely sound. Yet the hi-fi and multi-media system from the technological partner Alpine Electronics is also a first-class treat for the eyes – and the ears!
The 8-inch pulse-touch display by Alpine in the middle of the dashboard looks as perfect as if it had been inserted during the assembly work in the Aston Martin plant in Gaydon. Not only does it act as a playback medium for DVD films embedded in a dream of the finest Conolly leather and boasting the best 5.1 cinema sound as a special treat for passengers, the likes of which not even the ICE (German high speed train) can offer: the perfect interplay between the components is enabled by the innovative Vehicle Hub Pro, the interface solution from Alpine, which makes it possible to equip practically any vehicle system with additional components.
An example of this is the innovative, weight-saving digital amplifier by Alpine, which combines the perfect sound with the power of a steam boiler. Its polished aluminum look is a further delightful feature. Corresponding light metal decorative elements can be found on the sill tread plates and the door handles of the Eibach project car. Incidentally, the Alpine DVD navigation system will guide you to your destination as easy as can be in even the worst of urban jungles. Then again, with so much driving fun to be had: who wants to get there?!