Aston’s mid-engined cars wouldn’t be real without Gran Turismo

Image for article titled Aston Martin's Mid-Engine Marvels Wouldn't Exist Without Video Games

Drawing: Aston Martin

With the Valkyrie and Valhalla attracting so much attention now, it’s easy to forget Aston Martin’s earlier fantasies of what a mid-engined supercar from the marque might look like. Nearly a decade ago, she unveiled the DP-100 — a car designed for Grand Touring 6. We should all appreciate the DP-100; apparently without this car, Aston wouldn’t be making the Valkyrie and Valhalla now. Or not yet, at least.

This interesting tidbit comes from Marek Reichman, chief creative officer of the British automaker, who recently shed some light on the duo’s history with the Australian outlet. Cars Guide:

“This journey began with [Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital CEO] Kazunori Yamauchi and we created the DP-100, which was our first mid-engined virtual car. We didn’t have a Valkyrie, we didn’t have a Valhalla, we didn’t have a Vanquish back then, we had a DP-100,” he said.

“We did it as a GT car and had so many requests from customers saying ‘you’re going to do this, you’re going to do this, you’re going to do this’, so I did a template, we took the template from Pebble Beach… I’m not going to rewrite history, but after that came Valkyrie.

The DP-100 was Aston Martin’s submission for Vision Gran Turismo – an initiative launched by GT developer Polyphony Digital to inspire automakers to design concepts exclusively for the game. According to the game websiteseries producer Kazunori Yamauchi posed the same question to every manufacturer he works with: “Would you design your interpretation of the ideal GT? [grand tourer] for us?”

Image for article titled Aston Martin's Mid-Engine Marvels Wouldn't Exist Without Video Games

Picture: PlayStation Studios

Some 10 years later, this request has resulted in a vast catalog of vehicles, revealing very different interpretations of what the “ideal grand tourer” really is. the Porsche Vision Grand Touringwhich happens to be on the cover of GT7, is a simple, uninhibited mid-engine profile designed with electrification in mind, as one might expect for a near-future Porsche. Honda’s interpretation produced a NSX baby I’m still gutted that I never did production, while BMW liquidated a Last-gen 2 Series that got the old-school DTM treatment.

A few of these cars ended up being realized in the flesh, like Audi e-tron Vision GT – which brings us back to Aston Martin. Because these concepts aren’t just 3D models thrown into games. Polyphony is really asking car manufacturers to provide about as much data as they would with a real car. Again, from Reichman:

“If you look at the timeline of [Aston Martin] mid-engine car, if you do your research, DP-100 was our car in Gran Turismo to celebrate 15 years in Gran Turismo, and I’m a good friend of Kazunori San, and Kazi called me and said ” we’ve been working together next year for 15 years, we should be doing something special,” he said.

“And I said ‘what about one of those [DP-100]’? And he said “yes”.

“It’s an amazing process because what Gran Turismo wants isn’t just my sketch, they want CAD, they want to know what’s its weight, what’s the weight distribution, what’s the curve of couple ?

“It’s not just a ‘here’s a pretty picture’ as they then calibrate the car for the track and so on.

“[It took around] six months as a process because you have to create all the CAD and work with the engineering team to check the weight distribution, motor torque, horsepower, etc.

Although it seems like a meaningless detail, the fact that the DP-100 culminated with Aston Martin and Polyphony Digital celebrating 15 years of collaboration is important to note. Aston Martin was part of the very first Grand tourism, in 1997. This set included the DB7 Coupé and the Volante; alongside the TVR Griffith and Cerbera, they represented the only British vehicles in GT1 listing.

Image for article titled Aston Martin's Mid-Engine Marvels Wouldn't Exist Without Video Games

Picture: PlayStation Studios

The DP-100 was a decidedly less stylish car than the Valkyrie or Valhalla, with its chunky, slab-sided silhouette and slender LED headlights hidden in repurposed NACA ducts. Yet, as Reichman puts it, the concept was the “push” that convinced Aston Martin to join Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren in high-performance, mid-engined, motorsport-derived hypercars.

“I can’t say they [mid-engined cars] would not exist without [Gran Turismo], but if you now consider that the virtual world is just as important as the real world… has the digital influenced the physical? From my point of view, of course,” he said.

“And would they have existed without [Gran Turismo]? Maybe they would have taken a little longer. Maybe the DP-100 was the push the world needed to say “hey, you can make a mid-engined car with a cool look and have a wing on it and there it is”.

It’s no secret that the success of games like Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport and others are the reason the Impreza WRX, Lancer Evolution and Nissan GT-R started sales in North America in the first place. The phenomenon of racing games influencing car culture isn’t new, but it’s encouraging to know that it’s still happening, even today.