Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
The V8 Vantage was dubbed Britain’s first supercar when it was launched in 1977; the 150mph DB6 and Jaguar E-type clearly weren’t fast enough to qualify…
Sharing the same basic shape as the DBS introduced in the late 60s and the later V8, the real differences were under the bonnet and, for a time, the V8 Vantage was the world’s fastest accelerating production car – one tenth of a second quicker than the Ferrari Daytona.
The Vantage was produced in various guises throughout the 1980s, with power increasing from the launch car’s 375bhp up to 403bhp in the 580 “X-pack”, a potential 420bhp in the two-seater Zagato coupe, and 450bhp with the 6.3-litre special available on request from Aston Martin.
Most of the 626 cars sold over a 12-year period came with Aston’s tried and trusted 5.4-litre V8 engine, featuring revised camshafts, larger inlet valves and carburetors and new inlet manifolds – with devastating results as the Vantage proved to be a mile-eating performance monster with a top speed of 170mph.
On the outside, the main differences between the Vantage and the V8 that preceded it were a closed off bonnet bulge (instead of the open scoop), a rear spoiler and a closed-off grille with twin spotlights.
A Volante convertible option, as driven by James Bond in The Living Daylights in 1987, was finally introduced in 1986; Aston had refused for many years because of safety fears at high speeds.
The car was fitted with a deeper front spoiler, side skirts and wider wheel arches to aid stability, and in just three years 167 Volantes were sold, with customers including Aston fan the Prince of Wales (who dispensed with the wheel arches and side skirts – far too brash for royalty!).
Other customers agreed, and 26 of the Volantes sold opted for the “Prince of Wales spec” – the most valuable Volantes today.
Driving the Vantage back in the day when it ruled the performance charts, What Car? magazine described how, such was the sheer size of the car, the awesome power was so understated you barely noticed it.
“The big V8 just does everything with effortless grace; drifts the car off from a standstill, smooths it up to three figure speeds. Everything is cultured, unflustered, relaxed and relatively quiet.
“The Vantage starts accelerating where most other cars stop. This is no lightweight racer to be buzzed casually around the lanes.”
And this is what separated the Vantage from its contemporary Italian and German rivals – it was bigger, faster, and more luxurious: a special type of full-blooded, thoroughbred British heavyweight.
Now sit back, turn up the volume, and enjoy the sound of a 6.3-litre special being driven (hard) by Classic and Sports Car on an Alpine tunnel run.