AS­TON MARTIN VAN­TAGE

A V8 BRUTE IN A HAND-MADE SUIT. IS THIS REARDRIVEN STUN­NER A FU­TURE CLAS­SIC?

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS -

De­pre­ci­a­tion can be fickle. But what is the bane of sell­ers can be the trea­sure of buy­ers. Es­pe­cially in new cars, sell­ers will take the brunt of the down­ward dip, but sec­ond­hand buy­ers can save some se­ri­ous coin if they’re will­ing to wait for their dream car to drop in price. With the rate of tech­nol­ogy change, quick turnover of mid-cy­cle up­dates and even en­tire model life­cy­cles, semi-mod­ern sports cars of­fer a sweet propo­si­tion – they’re of­ten not enough to be con­sid­ered a clas­sic or nos­tal­gic, but are of­ten swept to the side and for­got­ten in the face of the new­est flash metal.

With a burly V8 up front, driven wheels in the back, and a lux­u­ri­ous leather-clad cabin in be­tween – As­ton Martin’s most ag­ile and lithe of­fer­ing is pos­si­bly at its low­est on the sec­ond­hand mar­ket, and of­fers big-buy­ing for any­one look­ing at a pre­mium two-door per­for­mance coupe.

Orig­i­nally, this car cost north of $250,000 when new and was aimed squarely at the Porsche 911, its main ri­val. Cur­rently, it sits around just a third of its sticker price on the sec­ond­hand mar­ket.

With de­sign penned by Hen­rik Fisker, the V8 Van­tage is one of the more hand­some As­tons of this mil­len­nium. It’s al­most 25cm shorter than it’s longer and larger rel­a­tive, the DB9, but just as wide – giv­ing it a mus­cu­lar squat stance with lit­tle over­hangs. Each end is framed by soft and hand­some curves, so its styling won’t scream at you, but will in­stead com­mand at­ten­tion with a grace and ma­tu­rity lacked by some of its more the­atri­cal con­tem­po­raries.

The chas­sis struc­ture it­self is a short­ened ver­sion of the bonded alu­minium ar­chi­tec­ture found in the more ex­pen­sive Van­quish and DB9.

Upon re­lease, the V8 Van­tage was pow­ered by a 4.3lt quad-cam 32-valve V8, ca­pa­ble of an ad­mirable 273kW, though the range was up­dated in 2008 and saw the en­gine swell in dis­place­ment to 4.7lt. Based loosely on the Jaguar AJ-V8 en­gine ar­chi­tec­ture, As­ton Martin pro­duced al­most all of the in­ter­nals and an­cil­lar­ies in-house, and hand built the en­gines in their Cologne, Ger­many fac­tory.

In 4.7lt guise, the Van­tage can sprint to 100km/h in 4.3 sec­onds – and should pull up with just as much fe­roc­ity thanks to mono­lithic 380mm front brake ro­tors – clamped down by mas­sive six-pis­ton calipers.

It makes a good noise too, not overly brash like many con­tem­po­rary AMGs, but sings a more re­fined tune, with a hearty but re­strained rum­ble down low in the rev range. The ex­haust sys­tem too fea­tures in­tri­cate but­ter­fly valves that open

“IN 4.7-LITRE GUISE, THE VAN­TAGE CAN SPRINT TO 100KM/H IN 4.3 SEC­ONDS”

above 4000rpm, re­leas­ing a much more burly eight cylin­der bel­low when you re­ally give it the beans. Though if you do de­sire a more vo­cal bark at low revs, you can sim­ply pull the fuse (#22) to keep the valves open all of the time!

Open the sig­na­ture but­ter­fly doors; and you are greeted with a con­ve­niently large aperture, and an en­cap­su­lat­ing cabin awash with leather. The dash is min­i­mal in its in­tri­cacy, with the cen­tre con­sole neatly stacked with cli­mate con­trol and in­fo­tain­ment con­trols. In true James Bond fash­ion, the nav­i­ga­tion screen folds out from the top of the dash.

The seats are com­fort­able on long jour­neys, though side bol­ster­ing is some­what lack­ing com­pared with the equiv­a­lent Porsche 997 Car­rera.

Be­hind the two seats (yes, there are only two), there’s a car­peted stor­age area, as well as a pair of neat alu­minium roll-over bars.

Fur­ther aft, the boot and rear win­dow open as a one-piece hatch, pro­vid­ing a co­pi­ous 300 litres of stor­age space.

Steer­ing is nicely weighted, but smooth, and the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence still feels me­chan­i­cal and in­volved. In man­ual guise es­pe­cially the shift-ac­tion is sturdy and at times may re­quire

“A BURLY V8 UP FRONT, DRIVEN WHEELS IN THE BACK, AND A LUX­U­RI­OUS LEATHER-CLAD CABIN IN BE­TWEEN”

some heft – so evoca­tive of its cel­e­brated 80s V8 pre­de­ces­sors.

While the baby As­ton has a lot go­ing for it, if you’re af­ter scalpel sharp per­for­mance also check out a Porsche 911, of which Lor­bek has many.

Though it was As­ton Martin’s most ath­letic of­fer­ing at the time, it still re­mains a grand tour­ing car first and fore­most.

It will trans­port you any­where, at a brisk pace, in com­plete com­fort.

While its ri­vals may be a marginally quicker – the As­ton’s true party trick is how it makes you feel.

Would you be happy walk­ing out to see this hand­some clas­si­cally pro­por­tioned coupe in your garage? We sure would! And if you agree, pre-facelift mod­els can be had for around $80,000 - $90,000. A man­ual would be our pick, but there’s lit­tle price dis­par­ity be­tween the two.

Tack on an ex­tra ten-grand for the up­dated 4.7lt model. And yes, there is a V12 model too, which is glo­ri­ous – but you’d best be pre­pared to jot down a “1” or a “2” in front of the above val­ues.

With pre­mium man­u­fac­tur­ers in­creas­ingly down­siz­ing their pow­er­plants, and shy­ing away from the faith­ful man­ual gear­box – there’s plenty of head­room for these cars in the fu­ture, as there will be a time when rear-drive V8s are looked back on much the same way as the As­ton Martin’s of old.

TOP LEFT The baby As­ton has aged beau­ti­fully.TOP RIGHT As­ton Martin’s V8 is a smooth and charm­ing unit.BOT­TOM LEFTThis in­te­rior looks like it could’ve been re­leased to­day!.

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