A V12 engine was first proposed for use in the Lagonda Vignale Concept car in 1993 although a working unit wasn’t in fact fitted to the show car. The Vignale was intended to be built around an extruded aluminium structure, a feature first seen in production in the V12 Vanquish. By 1996, Ford had fitted a working experimental 6.0 litre V12, initially based on a pair of 3.0 litre Duratec V6 units, to a show car they called the Ford Indigo Concept. A further development from this V12 finally appeared in an Aston Martin with the fully road going 1998 Project Vantage. The first opportunity for Aston Martin to use the V12 engine in an actual production car was the DB7 Vantage of 1999.
The production V12 Vanquish, closely resembling the Project Vantage, was finally shown to the press and potential customers in October 2000 and then the public at the Geneva Salon in March 2001. Production started very soon afterwards at the revitalized Newport Pagnell factory and deliveries to customers commenced in the Summer of 2001.
The V12 Vanquish has been very much in the public eye ever since James Bond was reunited with an Aston Martin. A much modified V12 Vanquish was the star in ‘Die Another Day’ released during November 2002 to huge acclaim.
In the Autumn of 2004, Aston Martin introduced the ultimate V12 Vanquish, the 520 bhp, ‘S’. Capable to 200 mph, the V12 Vanquish S remained the flagship of the range, or as AM describe it, their ‘Hero’ car until production ended in the summer of 2007. This also marked the ending of manufacture of Aston Martins at the famous Newport Pagnell factory.
By the end of 2004, around 1600 examples of the V12 Vanquish had been built. Demand has remained strong and in October 2005, the 2000th V12 Vanquish rolled out of the factory destined for a new owner in Japan.
By 2006, it was apparent that both the days of the V12 Vanquish and indeed Aston Martin production at Newport Pagnell were drawing to an end. Firstly, cars were no longer being marketed for the US market and production began to slow a little. Then in early 2007, AM announced the final version of the V12 Vanquish S, the Ultimate Edition.
By the time the final Ultimate Edition was completed in July 2007, a mere 2578 V12 Vanquishes had been built at Newport Pagnell. Production of Aston Martins at the factory came to a sad end after a period in excess of 50 years. Much of the factory was knocked down in early 2008 to make way for redevelopment into homes and light commercial activities. As a footnote, at the AM/Bonhams auction in May 2008, 1500 especially numbered and boxed bricks, salvaged following the demolition, were sold for charity. Since they were available for purchase for one day only, the bricks are now prized collectors items.
To date, there have been two special modified cars based on the V12 Vanquish, the unusual Bertone Jet 2 and the wonderful Roadster by Zagato. Sadly, these cars have remained unique and are held in private collections.
The V12 Vanquish was replaced as the ‘hero’ car by the DBS V12, unveiled at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegence which itself was replaced by the VH310 Vanquish in 2012. Yet the original car has a loyal band of supporters who fly the V12 Vanquish flag high and proud. It remains for many, even after deletion from the price list, the ultimate ‘New Era’ Aston Martin. Only 2,589 production cars were ever built, 1,503 as standard V12 Vanquish and 1,086 V12 Vanquish S.
Note that the car built between 2001 and 2007 was called the V12 Vanquish, the much later Vanquish, codename VH310 built from 2012 has only ever been known as the Vanquish, without the V12.