BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 ("Billie") Auction Tale

One of the most iconic and memorable GT3 car's of a generation – the Prodrive-built 'works' Aston Martin Racing Vantage V12 GT3 that wore the stunning Bilstein-livery & ran No.007 in the 2013 Nurburgring 24-Hour, aka "Billie" – is up for sale with Silverstone Auctions in September.
We are! lol
And we've just had a chat with the auctioneer director's son, Harry Whale – who also happened to be the Account Manager for Aston Martin Racing at Prodrive until earlier this year – for an exclusive Q&A on why this car's so special.

ROAD: So it was Prodrive who created and built Bille to blitz GT3 right?

HARRY WHALE (HW): "Yes, the car was built at Prodrive for a private client, but was run as though it were a full 'Works' Aston Martin, with works drivers and support throughout it's illustrious racing career. Aston Martin set out to win the Nurburgring 24-Hour with it in 2013, along with other top endurance races." 

ROAD: Do you know what it cost to build?

HW: "I wouldn't like to tell you! Each car like this is a bespoke deal really, but I know these V12 GT3 Vantages retailed at £350,000." 

ROAD: How did you guys at Silverstone Auctions get your hands on ‘Bille’ for the forthcoming sale?

HW: "I used to be the Account Manager for Aston Martin Racing at Prodrive, so I knew the owner very well indeed. He was one of our best clients. I organised the AM support race at Le Mans this year (my last for AMR) and I heard afterwards via Twitter that the owner was planning to sell it. I convinced him that we should give it a go selling it at auction."

ROAD: What’s the car like up close & personal & have you driven it? 

HW: "I have been lucky and I've raced some great cars – including Aston Martin GT4s, BMW M3s and Porsche cup cars – which meant Prodrive trusted me to shakedown Billie at the Prodrive test track pre-race. As such, whilst I never drove it in anger on a named circuit, I got to know the car quite well – first from a parts POV (I started as on GT car parts sales), to what it was like to drive in anger & then managing it as it competed internationally, as Account Manager. 
"It's an amazing car to be around and, believe it or not, it's actually an amazingly easy car to drive too. Aston Martin Racing is set up for gentlemen drivers – people who have made an awful lot of money and want something very special to race, but that's also simple to drive fast.
"Billie is incredible to drive. It's incredibly quick, and the gearbox and aero packages are just immense, as are the highly sophisticated ABS and TCS systems, which you can really lean on very hard. I've raced the GT4 and driven this GT3 car, and I'd say the GT3 is a lot easier to drive. And great fun too."  

ROAD: What’s your favourite feature of the car? 

HW: "It's got to be that iconic Bilstein livery it ran in the 2013 Nurburgring 24-Hour, which is what it's being sold with. That makes it pretty special – being one of the most memorable looking GT3 cars of modern times, and having been driven by some of the best endurance drivers of the modern era (and I'm not including me in that!), like Pedro Lamy and the like..."

ROAD: Do you know the story of how they got to run 007 in the 2013 N24?

HW: "Aston Martin (and Bilstein) have a very special relationship with the N24 organisers and as far as I know, it was just a favour to them to run that famous 007 Bond number."

ROAD: Billie ran P2 in qualifying (with an unreal 8.18.362 lap time, just 1.150s off pole) & lead the 2013 N24 for some considerable time. What happened and what are your memories of that race? 

HW: "It was just an incredible year. I recall it took me 25-minutes to walk our guests down the packed grid to get to the car at the front of the grid, in P2. It was so very, very special to see the car there... and for it to lead the race for about 12-hours! But then came the stoppage for fog at c1am and when the race re-started about 6am the car struggled for grip against the BMW's and Audi and Porsches in the wet weather conditions, so slipped down from P1 to P10. I think there's no doubt it would have won if it had stayed dry..."

ROAD: What’s the peak bhp that 6-litre V12 engine?

HW: "Unrestricted that V12 will hammer out over 700bhp, but it has spent most of its racing life with a 34mm restrictor on it, running c620-630bhp."

ROAD: When does it go under the hammer? Where?

HW: "The car is in our auction at the illustrious Salon Privé event on the evening of the 4th September at Blenheim, Woodstock." 

ROAD: What sort of person will end up owning Bille? Racer? Collector? Affluent track day enthusiast?

HW: "You never know. The bottom line is literally ANYONE can buy the car who's at the auction. It could go to someone who wants to race it (there's 3000 hours left on that engine), or to a collector who wants to keep it and watch the value rise over the years (which it is almost certain to do) or even to a chap who wants to use it on track days! Who knows?"

Which I guess is one of the many things that makes auctions so exciting!

One thing is for sure... whoever gets to own this stunning slice of modern GT3 racing heritage is one lucky blighter and is sure to end up making money from it, especially it it shifts near it's (surely typically auctioneer-like conservative) estimate of c£170-190,000. We reckon it'll fly over £250,000 no worries... and still stand to make someone a profit in half a decade...
And if we get a lotto win in the meantime, we'll be there bidding, for sure!
See some more images of the legendary beast here.

And here's what the Silverstone Auctions catalogue entry says about the legendary car:

In common with most other manufacturers of high powered Sports and GT cars, Aston Martin have, from time to time, dipped their toes in the world of International Motor Racing, believing that the pressure of competitive motor sport certainly brings benefits in terms of innovative engineering solutions and coincidentally, may bring a significant increase in dealership traffic.
The regulations for GT3 (Cup Grand Touring Cars) were introduced by the FIA as the third rung in the ladder of GT motor sport in 2006, and were aimed at providing a formula that would, hopefully, combine cars from a number of existing national and international series, providing economies of scale for all concerned.
Closely reflecting their road-going equivalents to keep maintenance costs to a minimum, GT3 specification racecars were allowed limited alterations to suspension, engine and bodywork and needed to look very similar to showroom models.
By the end of 2013, 34 different models have been homologated to GT3 regs and over 20 championship series have been run to broadly equivalent rules all over the World, often eclipsing the popularity of Group A or Supertouring and confirming the initial concept as a great success.
From November 2011, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 has been offered to customers as the latest in race car design, using technology gathered from the years of experience Aston Martin and Prodrive have gained since their partnership began in 2004 in the form of Aston Martin Racing (AMR).
In 2013, Aston Martin set its sights on winning the most prestigious, and one of the most hotly contested races in the GT3 racing scene - the Nurburgring 24-hour race. AMR entered the first ‘works' run and maintained Vantage GT3 in the grueling race in partnership with Bilstein (Shock Absorbers)- promptly qualifying 2nd overall out of an entry of over 200 cars. Works drivers, Pedro Lamy, Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and the late Alan Simonsen piloted the car to the overall lead during the first half of the race, setting consistent fastest times while doing so. Unfortunately, the weather played a key role in the race resulting in the car finishing just outside of the top ten, but a marker was put down to the rest of the GT3 world at the ‘Green Hell'. The car's predictable handling and the sense of security that engendered, combined with its distinctive colour scheme were responsible for it becoming affectionately known as " Bilstein Billie" and this nickname has stuck.
Following on from that race, the car was run and maintained (to the highest possible standards) for the following two seasons by Prodrive, as the ‘in house' works run GT3 car under private ownership. Winning overall, and achieving podiums in Blancpain Endurance, Britcar, the 2015 Le Mans Support race, VLN's, Dubai 24 hour, and finishing in the top 10 at the Nurburgring 24 hour race in '14 has helped to make sure ‘Billie' became one of the most iconic and recognisable cars of the current GT3 period.
‘Billie' has been raced by some of the best GT drivers in the world, giving it a truly unique and special provenance and we are proud to offer ‘Billie' as a significant piece of Grand Touring history, and therefore should be considered very seriously as a collector's item. However, the car is also an attractive competitive asset (a full Technical Specification Sheet is available) and is for sale fully set up as it finished its last race at the Le Mans support event in June 2015, where naturally, Billie won overall.
Estimate (£): 170,000 - 190,000


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