‘the carb-fed v8 was al­most half a sec­ond quicker to 60mph than the in­jected car’

VANTAGE - - Buying Guide Am V8 -

As DBS V8 mor­phed into AM V8, the de­ci­sion to ditch the tricky-to-ser­vice Bosch fuel in­jec­tion for a quar­tet of twin-choke We­ber car­bu­ret­tors cer­tainly didn’t harm the per­for­mance: in fact Mo­tor’s 0-60mph time of 5.7sec for a carb-fed AM V8 was al­most half a sec­ond quicker than they’d achieved with the in­jected car, thanks to the new model’s keener ini­tial pick-up and torquier de­liv­ery. Even if top speed was 5mph down at 155mph, it was still one of the world’s quick­est GT cars.

The We­bers, they con­cluded, gave a ‘worth­while im­prove­ment in low-speed run­ning and tractabil­ity. When com­bined with the As­ton’s very high cor­ner­ing pow­ers, this makes the V8 one of the most sat­is­fy­ing road cars we have driven for some time.’

Today, com­pared with the DB4, 5 and 6, the V8 still looks good value. But its stock is ris­ing fast. As­ton Martin Works re­cently sold an ad­mit­tedly pris­tine DBS V8 for £175,000, and while the four-head­light car seems to at­tract a pre­mium, the AM V8 isn’t too far be­hind, with the very best now com­mand­ing £150,000. It is, how­ever, still pos­si­ble to pick up a per­fectly pre­sentable and em­i­nently use­able ex­am­ple for £100,000-125,000. The key is find­ing a car that’s fun­da­men­tally sound and that won’t re­quire ma­jor work. So, what to look out for?

First, it’s good to know which model you’re look­ing at, so a brief his­tory. The DBS V8 with its four head­lights and Bosch in­jec­tion ran from 1969 un­til it was re­placed by the AM V8 with its two head­lights and plainer grille in April 1972. There was a run of 288 fuel-in­jected AM V8s while en­gine stocks were used up (chas­sis num­bers 501-789), but from July 1973 all had We­ber carbs, th­ese cars dis­tin­guished by a much big­ger air-scoop on the bon­net.

Just to muddy the waters, in 1972 Com­pany Devel­op­ments also in­tro­duced an ‘en­try level’ ver­sion of the new As­ton with the old 4-litre in-line six-cylin­der en­gine. Ig­nor­ing decades of As­ton tra­di­tion, they called this low­er­pow­ered model, which had wire wheels in place of the V8’s alloys, the ‘Van­tage’. Doh.

But back to the V8s, and in 1978 came the ‘Os­car In­dia’ (avi­a­tion code for OI or Oc­to­ber In­tro­duc­tion) model: still carb-fed, so re­tain­ing the big bon­net-scoop, but with a host of de­tail im­prove­ments, sub­tle body changes in­clud­ing a neat, in­te­grated tail-spoiler and, in­side, a more sump­tu­ous feel with lash­ings of glossy wood ve­neer on the dash and door cap­pings.

The final ver­sion ran from 1985-1989 and fea­tured We­ber-marelli elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion, th­ese ‘Efi’s dis­tin­guished vis­ually by their BBS wheels and vir­tu­ally flat bon­nets.

There were, of course, souped-up Van­tage and rag-top Volante variations on the ba­sic recipe (there’s a full guide to the lat­ter in Van­tage is­sue 4), but the val­ues of those have long since es­caped into the strato­sphere, so it’s the reg­u­lar V8 coupé (or ‘ saloon’ in As­ton par­lance) that we’re fo­cus­ing on here.

Ac­cord­ing to Nigel Wood­ward, man­ager of Her­itage Op­er­a­tions at Works, it doesn’t mat­ter which vari­ant you’re look­ing at – DBS V8, early AM V8, post-1978 ‘Os­car In­dia’, or the final run of We­ber-marelli in­jected cars – they’re­all­fun­da­men­tal­lythe­same­un­derneath, which means that the biggest con­cern (and I sus­pect you may be one step ahead of me here) is cor­ro­sion.

All the V8s had the same con­ven­tional steel box-sec­tion chas­sis with a steel su­per­struc­ture clad in al­loy panels. All of it was made and as­sem­bled by hand at New­port Pag­nell, but while the skills of the craftsmen were never in doubt, rust pre­ven­tion mea­sures were very much of the time (i.e. fairly per­func­tory by mod­ern stan­dards).

‘Cor­ro­sion of the sills is the biggest sin­gle is­sue with V8s,’ says Wood­ward. ‘And as with any As­ton that’s not a small job to put right prop­erly. Ba­si­cally it in­volves cut­ting off the front and rear wing bot­toms to gain ac­cess to the struc­ture of the car, re­mov­ing the sills, re­pair­ing the floors and mak­ing up new sill sec­tions and putting them back in. And then of course you’ve got to fill, pre­pare and paint both sides of the car. It’s a ma­jor un­der­tak­ing by any­body’s stan­dards.’

And the cost to re­pair/re­place the sills to Works stan­dard? ‘ You wouldn’t walk away with much change from £20,000,’ says Nigel.

Was there much dif­fer­ence in the build qual­ity over the years? ‘We’ve re­stored V8s from all the dif­fer­ent eras, and re­ally there’s not much to choose be­tween any of them.

‘Me­chan­i­cally, though, they’re gen­er­ally sound,’ con­tin­ues Nigel, ‘but bear in mind that they can be up to 40 years old now.’

The en­gine, aside from the switch from fuel in­jec­tion to car­bu­ret­tors and then back to fuel in­jec­tion, was es­sen­tially un­changed from the

Op­po­site This 1972 car, re­cently sold by As­ton Works for £120k, is one of the ear­li­est AM V8s, still badged DBS V8 un­til the badges were used up! At this stage the V8 still had Bosch in­jec­tion; carb-fed cars had a big­ger bon­net scoop

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