This Aston Martin Vantage GT3 has the last V12 in motorsport

11th November 2017
Ethan Jupp

There’s something for everyone at Historic Sportscar Racing’s Classic 24 at Daytona, with the entry list pulling from motorsport’s most obvious, most obscure, most recent and its distant past. One breed that you can spot existing virtually unchanged (in layout if perhaps not performance) is the good old fashioned front-engined GT.


Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Maserati and more have made a name for themselves producing and racing a brand-defining sports GT at some time or another and all continue those bloodlines today. The breed has endured. Well, today, in racing at least, what we understood as a “GT” has undergone a dramatic transformation. Most of the average WEC GT grid utilises forced induction. Most of the key players do not hang their muscle out front, save for the Corvette at Le Mans at least, but even that is moving its motor rearwards in the not too distant future. Aston Martin’s Vantage along with the Corvette, looks to be the last of a breed – free-breathing, tastefully styled front-engined sportscars. Next year’s GTE car is going turbo. Even this year’s (incredible-sounding) V8 car has four fewer cylinders than we perhaps might fall for… 

That brings us back to the Classic 24 as we found ourselves track-side at Daytona for some night practice enjoying the guttural howl of what could only be an atmospheric V12. And the car for which we can thank for it? That would be a green 2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.

It was at this moment we realised that this car might be the last ever free-breathing V12 GT to turn a wheel in anger in modern endurance racing, nay, the last car in all of motorsport to keep a 12-cylinder current. A mechanical musical legend meticulously cultivated by the likes of the Ferrari 250s and their lusty Colombo V12s, the peerless flat-12s of the big-banger Ferraris and Porsches of the early ‘70s, Matra and Ferrari in sportscars and Formula 1 (the latter coming out singing in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s), McLaren with the immortal F1 and so on and so on. There are too many to count.

The point is that a 12-cylinder on full-song is automotive desire distilled, pure and simple, and the otherwise relatively anonymous Vantage GT3 is unwittingly the hallowed layout’s last bastion.


As for Vantage GT3 Chassis No 33’s history, headline-grabbing achievement is fairly thin on the ground. In 2015 it was a factory car but didn’t find any notable success. In 2016 it was turned to more local events in the hands of a privateer. Post-refresh in the winter months, the current owner picked it up concluding his search for a front-engined GT3 car.

“Did you look at the Corvette?” we asked. “It was an aesthetic decision to go with this” he replied. 

When we floated the notion of this being the last 12-banger in motorsport, the owner seemed unfazed: “I actually was not aware of that”.  

It dawned that we were getting a little dewy-eyed over something that is in effect a tool with a purpose. If something about it hinders it from doing its job (winning!), then that thing needs to be updated or changed to meet the competition. Whether it’s the adoption of hybrid drive, turbocharging, moving the engine behind the cabin or chopping out your big heavy 12-cylinders for a lighter tauter eight or six-pack, that’s par for the course. It’s why the current Ford GT has a twin-turbo six and an EcoBoost badge and why the fastest Porsche round Le Mans to date has four cylinders, a bank of batteries and some electric motors. So when this V12 GT3 is confined to the history books and the new car takes over, it’s not without reason. Progress waits for no man and she is relentless, if not without cause.

It’s times like this you realise these cars dating back less than five years are still relevant in the context of events like the Classic 24. It’s history in the making, unless the missions against emissions take a U-turn and are called off. We hope with every last bone in our bodies for that to be the case but we aren’t holding our breaths. In the meantime, a hearty salute to the unwitting Aston that carried the V12 beacon long after no one else would. Now we’re going to stop waffling, go out and listen to it…

Photography by Chuck Andersen

  • HSR

  • Historic Sportscar Racing

  • Classic 24

  • Classic 24 at Daytona

  • Aston Martin

  • Vantage

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