Improving on existing masterpieces is a tough task, but Callum’s showing he’s up to the job

Eighteen years ago, Aston Martin launched the first-generation V12 Vanquish. It was a huge moment for the British automaker, which, at that time, was part of the Ford Motor Company stable. The first-generation Vanquish remained in production until 2007, and in that time, the Ian Callum-designed grand tourer established a fanbase that remains healthy and vibrant to this day. Imagine the excitement of those people now after Callum, who has since started Ian Callum Design, introduced the Aston Martin Vanquish 25, a throwback creation of the original Vanquish that the designer played a huge part in creating. The Aston Martin Vanquish 25 is here as part of Ian Callum Design’s goal to redo some of the cars from yesteryear that he had a hand in designing. We’re going to go through a long list of models to identify all the cars Callum helped bring to life so instead of doing that, we’re putting the spotlight squarely on one of his most famous creations. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Aston Martin Vanquish 25, and it looks like it hasn’t aged a day since the last time we saw it 12 years ago.

2001 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S
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Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S

The first-generation Aston Martin Vanquish was an important car for Aston Martin. It arrived at a time when automakers were still trying to leverage their modern exotic grand tourers by creating a niche market where these models could thrive. These days, that market has exploded into a full-blown segment, ripe with models from automakers all over the world. It would be presumptuous to say that the first-generation Vanquish was solely responsible for that, but it played a big part in creating the market. It certainly helped, at least from the perspective of exposure, that the first-gen Vanquish appeared in the James Bond movie Die Another Day a year after it hit the market. Just like that, it was introduced and exposed to a global audience that immediately fell in love with the model.

There’s a lot of credit to go around when discussing the success of the first-generation Vanquish. Make no mistake, though. One of the biggest reasons behind it is Ian Callum, the legendary auto designer who’s largely credited for creating the design that Aston Martin would come to repeatedly use in a lot of its later models. Callum is the design mind behind the Vanquish, and when he decided to retire from his long and storied career as a designer and start a full-service design and engineering house, it was only a matter of time before the OG Vanquish would rise again. That day, folks, has come. Meet the Aston Martin Vanquish 25.

Exterior

  • Split front grille
  • New LED headlights and taillights
  • Larger rear bumper with integrated diffuser
  • Air vents in place of fog lamps
2019 Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum Exterior
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On the surface, the Aston Martin Vanquish 25 looks like…the first-generation Vanquish. That’s not an accident. In creating the Ian Callum Design, the legendary designer made it clear that his company wasn’t going to reinvent the wheel, but, rather, build on what’s already been created and make upgrades and improvements where they’re necessary.

The original Vanquish’s design still has a lot of appeal to it, and you can see it in how Ian Callum Design was careful in keeping its aesthetic integrity intact.

That said, the design company still had its work cut out in giving the Vanquish a modern vibe that fit its goal of turning it into “the Grand Tourer for the 2020s.” Work started in the front where several small redesigned details gave the Vanquish a fresh new look. There’s the sharper-edged upper grille that sits squarely in the middle of the fascia, sitting above what now looks like a larger lower intake. The Vanquish’s old projector headlights were replaced with four high-intensity LEDs and the fog lamps that once occupied the edges of the lower bumper have been replaced in favor of carbon fiber vents that can channel more airflow to the grand tourer’s front brakes. The split-level grilles count as arguably the most noticeable change in the front design of the Vanquish 25. Combine that with the convex carbon fiber rockers that integrate seamlessly into the new curves of the lower rear fenders and you have a striking new look that somehow still exudes images of the OG Vanquish. And this is just the front section of the car.

2019 Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum Exterior
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The taillights are also now of the LED persuasion and the rear bumper has been cut to accommodate a larger diffuser with integrated exhaust pipes.

Notice too how the overall profile of the Vanquish 25’s rear section looks edgier and more cut than the original version? That’s a byproduct of Callum design’s goal to not only improve the grand tourer’s looks but, just as important, its aerodynamic qualities. Don’t sleep on the new metal surfacing of the sills and the new side mirrors, too. As far as the latter goes, the old ones — the same ones that the Jaguar XK used at that time — have been replaced by modern and newly designed units that come with built-in turn signals. It’s all in the smallest of details, folks.

Overall, the Aston Martin Vanquish 25’s exterior is a fresh look and a tribute to the OG, all rolled into one. It is, in Callum’s words, the facelift that the original Vanquish never lived long enough to receive. Remember, it was only in the market for six years, a short life compared to the production run of today’s grand tourers. If that is the case, Callum Design House did the first-generation Vanquish a lot of justice. The Vanquish 25 looks stunning.

Interior

  • New center console with loads of carbon fiber
  • Luggage in place of rear seats
  • Thinner steering wheel
  • Bremont-designed instrument cluster
  • Bridge of Weir leather
  • Eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability
2019 Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum Interior
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The first-generation Aston Martin Vanquish’s weak link was its interior. It wasn’t that bad to look at when it was new and there was enough fine leather and other premium materials to compensate for the atrociously cheap center console that somehow found its way into this beautiful model. The OG Vanquish’s center console was a complete eyesore, so it comes as no surprise that in redesigning the interior of the Vanquish 25, Callum and his team of designers made sure to start there.

Truth be told, the overall layout of the interior remains the same, at least if you’re not too fond of the old Vanquish’s rear seats.

Those have been cast aside in favor of more space to fit custom luggage from Mulberry. I suppose if you’re getting rid of the rear seats, you do it by filling the space left behind with something as useful as custom luggage. Most of the surface area, though, is dressed in fancy cross-stitched Bridge of Weir leather. Carbon fiber trim can be found all over the place, too, adding to the premium vibe that the original Vanquish’s interior never seemed to capture completely. Speaking of premium vibe, the steering wheel is thinner now compared to the ones in OG Vanquish. It also comes with reshaped paddle shifters. This new setup sits just in front of a dash cluster that was designed by no less than renowned watchmaker Bremont.

2019 Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum Interior
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You’ll also notice a distinct pattern design spread throughout the interior of the car. What that is is an abstract tartan pattern that pays homage to Callum’s roots in Scotland. In fact, the legendary designer indicated his plans to use this aesthetic design as one of his design calling cards moving forward. So, if Ian Callum Design produces more models like the Vanquish 25, expect to find this design pattern in those cars, too. You can even see it in the carbon fiber hood vents of the Vanquish 25. It is, in some ways, Callum’s signature spread throughout his current and future creations.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the center console. It’s like night and day, isn’t it?

Gone is the cheap center console of the old Vanquish, and, in its place, Callum turned the whole setup into a vertical, carbon fiber-clad unit, complete with an eight-inch touchscreen display that’s compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The tacky buttons, switches, and dials from the OG Vanquish have also been replaced by carbon fiber buttons and aluminum dials. On top of all this is a removable pocket watch, which comes courtesy of, you guessed it, Bremont. On the other end is an artsy-fartsy-looking compartment that could double as a pair of cup holders.

2019 Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum Interior
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If there’s ever a section of the Aston Martin Vanquish 25 that captures the goal that Callum Design House set when it embarked on this project, it’s the interior of the grand tourer. For the most part, it doesn’t depart from the visual design and layout of the first-generation Vanquish, but there’s something about the new look that’s different. It looks different and, more importantly, it feels different. Maybe it’s the new center console design or maybe it’s the fancy leather and carbon fiber surfaces. Maybe it’s even the orange cursive inscription in the door sills that say “order out of chaos.” Whatever it is, the interior of the Vanquish 25 is a great example of what Ian Callum Design is all about and what it’s going to try to accomplish with its future projects. As far as first impressions go, Ian Callum’s new venture is off to a rousing start.

Drivetrain

  • 5.9-liter naturally aspirated V-12 engine
  • 580 horsepower
  • Three transmission options, including the original six-speed, single-clutch Speedshift automated manual transmission
  • Lowered ride height by 10 millimeters (0.39 inches)
  • 0 to 60 MPH: 4.5 seconds (estimate)
  • Top speed: Over 200 mph (estimate)
2019 Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum Exterior
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As good as the Aston Martin Vanquish 25 looks inside and out, it won’t mean much if it uses the same engine as the original Vanquish. As impressive as the first-generation Vanquish’s 5.9-liter naturally aspirated V-12 engine was in 2001 when it produced a healthy 460 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, that output doesn’t jump off the page anymore in 2019. It’s still decent, sure, but for a car like the Vanquish 25? Not even close.

Ian Callum knows this, so as part of the entire Vanquish 25 experience, the grand tourer’s naturally aspirated 5.9-liter V-12 engine received extensive upgrades, including a new carbon fiber airbox and a new exhaust system. Throw in an extensive software tuning to the same engine and the result is a final output of 580 horsepower.

That represents an increase of 120 horsepower over the first-generation Vanquish and 60 horsepower over the performance-spec Vanquish S.

Performance times were not announced, though it is worth mentioning that Callum will offer three transmission options for the Vanquish 25, including the grand tourer’s original six-speed, single-clutch Speedshift automated manual transmission. A six-speed GM-sourced torque converter automatic transmission and a six-speed manual conversion from Aston Martin Works are the two other transmission options.

Performance details were not mentioned, largely because they could differ depending on the kind of transmission that’s in place. Still, given that the OG Vanquish could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and hit a top speed of 190 mph, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine the Vanquish 25 accomplishing the same feat in around 4.5 seconds, maybe even a little quicker than that. Top speed should also increase north of 200 mph, which is the posted top speed of the 520-horsepower Vanquish S.

Those numbers are attention-grabbing, but Callum and his team didn’t accomplish the task at hand without making similar updates and improvements across the mechanical landscape of the powertrain. So the team widened the front and rear tracks, lowered the grand tourer’s ride height by 10 millimeters (0.39 inches), and worked on extensively tuning the dampers with custom springs while also adding larger and stiffer front and rear anti-roll bars and bearings in the steering rack.

Callum also fitted the Vanquish 25 with a set of 20-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport tires.

Just behind the wheels and tires are Aston Martin-sourced carbon-ceramic rotors — 15.7 inches in the front and 14.2 inches in the back — fitted with race-spec hubs as support.

2019 Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum Exterior
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A car as extensively recreated as the Aston Martin Vanquish 25 deserves the kind of driving and performance dynamics that can live up to its billing. Callum was once again up to the task, and the results, well, they certainly speak for themselves.

Final Thoughts

2019 Aston Martin Vanquish 25 by Callum Exterior
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Ian Callum staked his name and reputation in starting Ian Callum Design. Based on the company’s first foray, I’d say it knocked the Vanquish 25 out of the park. I never thought I’d get to see the day when the OG Aston Martin Vanquish got the facelift that it deserved more than a decade later but was denied of having one. Well, here it is. To be clear, the Vanquish 25 is more than just a routine facelift. It also represents the start of what could be a fruitful and successful for business for Ian Callum, one where he can properly flex his skills without having to answer to anyone. We’re already bearing witness to what Callum can do with this kind of freedom, and it’s safe to say that everyone’s excited to see what he can come up after the Vanquish 25.

As far as this model goes, only 25 units will be built with each unit priced at £550,000, or roughly around $663,600.

It’s a steep price, for sure, but that amount already includes a donor Vanquish and once it’s been stripped down to its tidy whites and rebuilt at Ian Callum Design’s facility in the U.K., each unit will be sold under the R-Reforged banner, the Swiss-based consumer brand division of AF Racing.

In case you’re wondering where Aston Martin stands in all of this, the British automaker isn’t only throwing its full support behind Ian Callum Design, but it also contributed with a few parts and equipment to help the Vanquish 25 come to life. No less than the automaker’s chief creative officer and former Ian Callum colleague Marek Reichman weighed in on the company’s support for its former designer. "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,” he said.

Now, Ian Callum and his team at Ian Callum Design can recreate some of those cars. The Aston Martin Vanquish 25 is the start, but it sure as heck won’t be the end.

  • Leave it
    • Not for everyone
    • Limited to just 25 units
    • £550,000 ($663,600 price tag is steep

Further reading

2001 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S
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Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S

Read our full review on the 2001 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish S.

2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S High Resolution Exterior
- image 695571

Read our full review on the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S.

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