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Car and Driver: Under the Hood of Aston Martin’s Vulcan, a Plug-and-Play Oil System

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Nexcel cell large

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We don’t normally pay a huge amount of attention to a car’s oil system, and especially not when the car in question has as many alternative sources of excitement as the Aston Martin Vulcan, the $2.3 million 820-hp track toy aimed at thrill-seeking billionaires. Yet one of the most unusual things about the Vulcan is its plug-and-play lubrication system, one that makes it possible to do a full oil change pretty much as easily as you’d load a pod into one of those fancy espresso makers, and which is planned to come to other, less exclusive cars soon.

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Aston Vulcan construction

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According to Fraser Dunn, the chief engineer of Aston’s Q Advanced Operations Center in Wellingsbourne, England, Castrol had been looking for a limited-production car to prove the concept of its Nexcel system, making the Vulcan, of which 24 are being produced for track use only, an ideal candidate. Castrol’s Nexcel is a box that includes both oil and filter elements, and which effectively acts as the reservoir for a dry-sump lubrication system, connecting into the car with three plug-in connectors for the feed, return, and breather. The upshot is a mess-free oil change that takes less than 10 seconds; after raising the Vulcan’s hood all that’s necessary is to lift out one Nexcel unit and drop in a fresh one.

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AM Vulcan 7

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The idea is to ensure the right quality of oil is being used and to cut maintenance times, especially for cars like the Vulcan that may well be stored for extended periods between track outings. A secondary benefit is that, as the exact type of oil is known, it is easier to recycle after it’s been removed from the car. According to Castrol the box can withstand sustained 1.8-g loads and can handle flow rates of over 150 gallons a minute.

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Castrol is also serious about introducing a version into more mainstream machinery and is working to persuade carmakers to share its vision, the corporate prediction is that we’ll see a Nexcel-equipped production vehicle within five years. As it’s proprietary technology, this would likely mean being tied to Castrol come oil-change time, but there’s a lot to be said for the idea of such a simple and fuss-free system.

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