With no mufflers to worry about, this retired race car is louder than loud

Aston Martin is known for making some of the most sonorous V-12s in the world and, while the Britons are yet to desert the 12-cylinder engine, the current DB11 and DBS Superleggera models are both powered by a 5.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-12.

With natural aspiration now completely out of the picture, the last Aston to feature an N/A V-12 was the V12 Vantage that bowed out two years ago. Luckily, racing versions of that car can still be seen on the race tracks of the world and, once in a while, the owners are even allowed to run their 600-horsepower beasts without mufflers. Enjoy the straight-piped goodness of a race-prepped N/A V-12!

This Vantage Was Once Raced On The Nordschleife

The Sound Of This Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Will Make You Miss The V-12 Engine
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Aston Martin was among the early adopters of the GT3 formula all the way back in 2006 when Prodrive fettled with Aston’s fire-breathing GT1 monster that was the DBR9 to create the DBRS9.

Slower, less aero-dependent, and closer in relation to a street-legal DB9, the DBRS9 was powered by a 5.9-liter version of the DB9's V-12 that was tuned to produce 550 horsepower, 100 over the production version.
The Sound Of This Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Will Make You Miss The V-12 Engine
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Towards the tail end of 2011, as the DBRS9 was nearing the conclusion of its sixth season of active competition, Aston Martin Racing was prepping its follow-up. Based upon the 2009 V12 Vantage, powered by the AM11 5.9-liter V-12 sourced from the DBS, the V-12 Vantage was more powerful than the V8 version that had been used as the basis for both the GT2 and the GT4 versions (both launched in 2008). The V12 Vantage GT3 debuted in 2012 and won on its second outing, the Nurburgring round of the British GT Championship.

"I was actually the very first driver to shake it down in November 2011," said Jonny Adam, whose British GT exploits with the Vantage helped him get a drive with the factory team. "I remember doing about 200km on the first day, which was pretty good for a new car with no baseline. Remember, back then GT3 wasn’t like it is now: we were working from the DBRS9, which was more of a road car that had been turned into a racer. But I remember it being very good straight out of the box."

That first chassis was #X3, the development car that was sold to Andrew Howard’s Beechdean Racing team to race and develop throughout 2012. "We worked closely with Aston in 2012 racing and testing the car as part of its development program, and although we had some success I never thought we’d still be [for seven years] with the same car. Some manufacturers have introduced two GT3 models since then," Andrew Howard pointed out.

While the car never really shone outside of the UK’s very own GT series, it did enjoy many, many wins on the national stage retiring as the most successful car of the British GT’s GT3 era with 22 wins and 63 podiums. Thus, the Vantage was the car behind four Drivers’ Titles and three Teams’ Titles in just six years. The car also took the Blancpain Endurance Series Pro-Am title in 2017 and the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup Teams’ Championship to boot.

The Sound Of This Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Will Make You Miss The V-12 Engine
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So, how about the car you see here? Well, by the look of things, this Vantage, run in full muffler-free spec at a recent historics meeting at the Nurburgring GP circuit, could well be one of the ex-Works cars that have seen action at the Green Hell throughout the 2010s. The V-12-powered GT3 racer was seen on the Nordschleife every year between 2012 and 2018 with the team contesting the 24-hour race as well as select VLN (now known as NLS) rounds.

In 2013, the now-famous Bilstein partnership was signed and over the next three years the factory-backed V12 Vantage GT3 raced around the Northern Loop of the Nurburgring in yellow and blue. In the first year of the partnership, the Bilstein car qualified a stunning second overall and led many hours even as rain began to fall furiously in the Eifel Mountains. Ultimately, though, Allan Simonsen, Darren Turner Pedro Lamy, and Stefan Mucke came home 10th as the car encountered troubles.

The 2014 race saw the Vantage take the fight to Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche but once again falling short in the end. While Audi took overall honors ahead of Mercedes and Porsche, the Aston Martin was best of the non-Germans in fifth, a result it would never match nor better.

The Sound Of This Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Will Make You Miss The V-12 Engine
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In the end, the V12 Vantage GT3 - often cited as 'the last V-12 in motorsports - failed in its attempt to become only the second non-German car to win the Nurburgring 24 Hours.

It did prove to be among the most popular entries and always put in a good fight against the local manufacturers at least. This was aided in part by the fact that Aston Martin Racing’s got a home away from home at the Nurburgring where it develops most of its AMR-tuned cars. On a different note, we’re now waiting to see what the new, V-8 turbocharged Vantage GT3 can do around the Green Hell. The car did prove competitive in Britain and elsewhere but, apart from a couple of VLN appearances, has yet to take part in the 24-hour race.

Source: Road & Track

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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