Unlike the roads either side of Laerdal tunnel, which are iced up, it's as dry as the Sahara in here. The Aston shimmies over the rumble strips that help keep drivers awake and on course, but otherwise remains utterly composed. The instruments glimmer like jewels, reminding me that this is an incredibly special car, as if the noises it makes aren't enough. Pulling into the central cavern where photographer Earey is waiting, he says he could hear me from maybe a couple of miles away, given how long the noise was building up. Astonishing.
Climbing out of the Aston, the feel is that of entering a movie set, such is the unreal atmosphere created by the bare rock face, bizarre lighting and weird acoustics. A few days before the tunnel was officially opened on November 20, 2000, a wedding took place in this very cavern. "Everyone felt positive about the tunnel. It was a special atmosphere. Romantic and not scary at all," said local Ronny Rinde, 27, who married 24-year-old Vibeke Skjerping.
It's a good job this car wasn't there, it would have upstaged the bride. Even Earey, who claims soft-tops are for girls, is seduced by its lines. Lines that are, to my mind, best appreciated when looking at its profile: pure, lean and athletic. I'm in love.
It's also exquisitely made. The paintwork is delectable and the panel gaps perfect. Those decorative humps behind the two seats are covered in the finest hand-stitched leather. Apart from looking fabulous, they house the roll-over hoops that activate if the car senses it's about to turn over, protecting the occupants' heads. To be honest, if I rolled a car like this, I'd want to commit suicide, but regulations are regulations.
There really is only one niggle with the design: its frankly pathetic trunk space. The coupe makes a strong case for itself as a practical sports car, given the amount of baggage you can squeeze into its rear. The Roadster, on the other hand, has about as much luggage space as my wife's purse. Which is not the best state of affairs when accompanied by a photographer carrying the tools of his trade. Travel light: that's the Roadster's mantra.
I'll forgive this car anything, though, because it looks and sounds so divine. Which, of course, is why we're inside the world's longest tunnel, late at night, with no other traffic. We came to make music and that's what we set about doing once again, while there's still time and fuel left in the tank. It would be rude not to.
I edge back out onto the road, pointing the Aston towards the black hole and floor it, grinning like a buffoon. If I end up deaf after this road trip, it'll be worth it. From one end of this glorious echo chamber to the other, one word keeps seeping into my brain, nagging me to pay attention: encore.
There's nowhere quite like this on our planet and there's no other car quite like this either; the two belong together. Without question, we are the first people to bring a V8 Vantage Roadster to Laerdal tunnel. There's no way we'll be the last. For multiple eargasm addicts, there's no finer car and no finer place to enjoy it.
Tunnels are a vital part of everyday life in Norway. Laerdal tunnel has enabled a direct road link between the country's two largest cities: Bergen, on the west coast, and the capital, Oslo. Before the tunnel was opened, it was necessary to drive over mountain passes (extremely dangerous in winter) and to take ferries. All of which took an age. Now, without even paying a road toll, the journey between the two cities is barely a day's drive.
It's not as though Norway can't afford to create tunnels like Laerdal, which cost $114 million. The country is the world's top non-OPEC oil exporter, producing more than three million barrels a day-so money isn't exactly scarce. Norwegians enjoy a higher standard of living than most and being able to get from place to place in relative ease is the icing on the cake.