Musings on the Motoring World

When the Valkyrie and Senna begin to parody themselves

The 2018 Geneva Motor Show was a glorious presentation of many things. Concepts that promise an electric future, concepts that promise a conventional engine future, and concepts that promise a flying future. Most importantly, for a motor show that prides itself on exotics, it provided an answer to the question of whether track versions of road cars are sexier. And the answer is a Schrodinger’s cat paradox, both yes, in the form of the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro, and no, with the wing-tastic McLaren Senna GTR concept.

In a rather ironic twist, the Valkyrie, a car designed by one of motorsports’ greatest aerodynamicist, comes across as one of the most aesthetically pleasing automotive creations in its AMR Pro track-only guise. Whereas the Senna GTR continues the Senna’s pursuit of maximum downforce with a chin spoiler from a Pikes Peak contender and a rear diffuser big enough to make Bosozuku fans think it is a bit on the nose.

Does it matter that the original road-going version of these cars are more likely to be used on the track anyway since its sparse appointments, featherweight figures, and uncompromising nature imbues it with the ride comfort of a million-euro shopping trolley? Probably not. And you can expect either one to sell out quickly like any track-only plaything these days, as Aston Martin says all 25 examples of the Valkyrie AMR Pro’s planned run has already been spoken for. Neat.

Where the Valkyrie AMR Pro and Senna GTR begin to lose me is the idea that both the base road-going models were designed to push the boundaries of what constitutes a road-legal car. Road legalities might stifle a racing engineer’s pursuit of performance and progress, but to the discerning buyer, it is far more satisfying to learn how these engineers overcome the limitations of regulations.

Anybody with a garage and a toolset can build a banger with a great big whooping turbo V8 to set a land speed record run on their street, but it takes real thought to make one that unfeeling bureaucrats can only tick their way to approval.

That is the greatest achievement of something as extreme as the Valkyrie and Senna, and to create a version that steps over that boundary into the realm of track-purpose exclusivity serves only to blast the sheen off that shining achievement.

It almost seems as though both these track-exclusives have become a parody of their original purpose. And, again, not that this will matter the least bit to most of its owners as it will be unlikely that either base and track-only model will ever taste the imperfections of public roads.

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