Photos from a shoot I did a while ago but kept forgetting to post...
...not because I’ve been lazy but because I’ve been busy shooting 1:1 cars again!
But this shoot took longer than I had expected to come together as well since it was either constantly raining or overcast. The one day it was completely clear and not deathly hot out - well, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
I had initially planned to post the Vantage GT3 way back in December after it arrived from Model Citizen but when a DBR9 in naked BRG came up for sale locally, I decided to postpone until I shot both cars together later in the summer. I’d say it was worth the wait!
The colour on both models was spectacular in the light box but out in direct sunshine its even more amazing. The curvature of the models are further highlighted as is the sparkle in the paint work. The DBR9 appears to be a tad lighter than the Vantage, but it is the old guard of the brand.
Spawned from the partnership between Prodrive and Aston Martin Racing, the DBR9 was redesigned to compete in the FIA’s illustrious GT1 category. There were notable victories on both sides of the pond from several high profile teams between when it debuted (2005) and when GT1 ended (2011).
A total of 16 DBR9 GT1 chassis were produced, according to Wiki, and the car predominately focused on aerodynamic efficiency as GT1 was very much an “aero formula.” According to Prodrive, the DBR9 was designed with two aero kits in mind: one for Le Mans and Monza, and the other for maximum downforce at all other tracks. The forward portions of the base coupe remain unchanged besides the splitter and the mandated flat floor. A massive diffuser and matching rear wing help to close off the shape, because racecar.
Also carried over from the road car is aluminum naturally aspirated 6.0L V12, albeit with a few modifications, but that’s where the similarities end. Prodive, having an abundance of experience building rally cars, set out to completely transform the DBR9 into a thoroughbred racecar. Of the many challenges they faced, a major hurdle was the aluminum construction of the chassis which meant the roll cage had to be fabricated as a single unit before being dropped into the tub.
Aston Martin Racing had set out to design a car that not only suited its factory teams, but was friendly to customer teams as well. When reworking the internals, Prodrive looked to Porsche’s (996) GT3 as the inspiration for capability and robustness. The drivetrain was redesigned to have as little headache as possible, with the factory guaranteeing a 5000km (le mans distance) engine life for the endurance kits before needing a rebuild. While the Vantage GT3 is a completely different beast to the DBR9 GT1, you can see where a few of the design philosophies have carried over.
DBR9 was blessed with having good suspension geometry from the start (double wishbones) but Prodive still flexed their muscles in this department. Dampers came from Koni, specifically their 2812 series that were found on Formula 3 cars of the time. Brembo, the OEM supplier for Astom Martin, provided six-pot calipers and 330mm carbon discs (although steel discs were optional for privateers). OZ Racing supplied the 18 inch forged magnesium wheels, measuring 12 1/2" front and 13" rear, to be shod in proper Michelin tires.
Designed for customer racing first and foremost, the Vantage GT3 showcases lessons learned from the DBR9/DBRS9 and Vantage GTE programs. Under the hood remains the 6.0L naturally aspirated V12 but with new cooling and lubrication systems to enhance their durability. New Bilstein dampers can be found on all corners with brake systems once again from Brembo (6P/4P). Wheels are in identical sizes to those of the DBR9.
Both the DBR9 and Vantage are incredibly important milestones in Aston Martin’s history, thanks in no small part to how well they were designed as road cars. Aluminum construction allows for incredible lightness, and with rules restricting bulkhead modification the mid-front placement of the V12 engine results in great weight distribution and agility.
The Vantage in comparison is still very much a shape we can associate with modern GT racing and the next Vantage GT3 has a lot to live up to. Although it’s been a decade since the DBR9 debuted, it’s immediately recognizable for its racing prowess. Of course, how can we forget a car that provided Top Gear with one of its most memorable moments:
Nostalgia break: here’s Nicki Thiim (current factory Aston Martin WEC driver) going through the DBR9 GT1:
Overhead is probably the most noticeable difference between these two cars: length. The Vantage is a full 6 inches shorter than the DBR9 and 4 inches more narrow probably thanks to advancements in aerodynamic design needing to rely less on long, bullet shaped cars.
But just because a car is smaller doesn’t mean the aero gets any less aggressive. The front splitter is much larger and the front end/hood opened up to better channel air through and around the car. Front wheel fender diffusers were introduced to relieve high pressure behind the front wheels. While the rear diffuser is shorter, the underbody tunnel runs higher; the rear wing is also higher up in the undisturbed air (Vantage canopy is 2 inches taller) and makes use of a longer flat plane in place of a clam shape.
The Vantage GT3 makes an amazing noise when it’s being pushed hard, as evidenced by the several cars I’ve heard around Mosport these past few years. Unfortunately most DBR9s have retired into private collections or museum pieces, and I’ll probably never get to see one in anger.
With no livery to distract your eye, these “naked” cars are quite beautiful pieces of art to look at. At the end of the day I’m quite pleased to have jumped on the opportunity to acquire both cars in BRG.
As far as the shoot goes, it was fun playing outdoors for a change. Shooting with two large models is something I haven’t done very often but I look forward to returning to this some time in the coming months with another pair of special cars.
Until then, feel free to check in on my IG or Flickr for recent shoots and shenanigans.