It’s been a couple of weeks since my V8 Vantage departed and I’ve since replaced it, but we’ll get that another day. It’s given me some real time to reflect on what they’re like to own, to run and to drive so I thought I’d share that.
Running costs. I’ve owned high performance cars for almost 6 years now so I’m somewhat desensitised to the repeated fast car bills and the size of them. However I was still a little shocked when it came to the Vantage. It’s a very very interesting world when it comes to Aston Martin parts. The “wings” yes those two little badges front and rear, want some in carbon fibre? How much do you reckon? Nope you’re wrong £1692 plus shipping. How about some second hand forged wheels? Easily £2000-£6000. The servicing costs are rather large as well. Now I don’t have a complaint with “supercars” having high running costs. However I feel it takes the piss when most of the parts are stolen from Ford, Jaguar and Volvo in what can only be described as the shittest orgy ever.
V8 Vantage servicing with HR Owen an Aston Martin Franchise starts, yes starts at £680 fixed price. That’s for an oil service, the relevant filters and a general inspection. That makes the slowest Aston sports car only a couple of hundred pounds cheaper to service than the 565bhp V12 Vantage S! I had mine serviced by a very talented friend James of P&G Automotive based in Worcester. I paid half of the aforementioned fees and was given a comprehensive walk around of my vehicle on the ramp. On the other hand though if you know where to look parts can be found without such a premium. Because I’m a top bloke I usually provide new discs all round with my cars, as I like to give peace of mind for the new owner. 4 Genuine Brembo discs ordered through Autodoc in Germany and delivered were only £249. I was quite pleased with that.
Road Tax was the highest I think I’ve ever paid despite the Vantage being my fourth V8. I’m sure it totalled up at £620 annually. Fuel? Yep as you might expect terrible, mid twenties at best but mine was tuned and making an extra 50bhp over standard, that being said it’s economy was improved after a software tweak. After my fiasco of smashing one of the 21” Niche wheels the previous owner had fitted I had to buy a set of rubber. I typically go with black circles and managed to get 245/40/19 and 285/35/19 Goodyear Eagle F1’s fitted locally for £556. I thought this was a bargain, Michelin Pilot Sport 4s would’ve been another £200 or so and I didn’t like them in the wet on my GT-R. My honest advice is if you’re looking to purchase a V8 Vantage of any sort out of warranty , find a good independent and shop around for parts. Ford seat motors, Volvo mirror covers , Volvo and Ford key fobs on early cars to save you a few quid from the stealers.
Ownership. I was in a group called V8/V12 Vantage owners and a couple of other Aston Martin groups. Overall most are very friendly and helpful when diagnosing yet another “they just do that” fault of which the Aston will spit its dummy out over. These can range from the EML light because you’ve driven it , or not driven it, or too hard or not hard enough, you get the gist. The reception on the roads you would not believe, many admiring looks, waves from grinning children and I’ve never been waved out of so many junctions.
The Aston was adored virtually everywhere I took it and I had many pleasant conversations when filling up with petrol or doing the weekly shop. I’m quite a tall bloke at 6ft and I always found the dash hard to see over, you can feel like a really shit driver in a Vantage. Visibility is pretty poor of the bonnet and nose and with a high tail I had to reverse like a Countach to avoid decimating my carbon fibre buttocks. The fuel-filler cap button is in a stupid place. You can’t see it when you’re in the drivers seat and you’ll forget to press it 9 times out of 10. You can then enjoy walking back around the car, opening the door and pressing it while onlookers snigger. The SATNAV doesn’t exist I don’t care what spec your car is it doesn’t have one especially if it’s from Volvo. It doesn’t know where you are, where you’re going or have come from, just leave it down trust me.
Clutch pedal is heavy but not offensive, slightly high biting point but good strength and easy to modulate. Brake pedal is crazy firm, again really easy to modulate however in an emergency you’ve really got to stamp on it for the little 355mm Brembos up front to stop you. Throttle response… yeah about that. I’ve had 2 B7 RS4s from a similar era and in sport mode I always felt I could Rev-match with just my big toe in them. Just a light tap and the Revs would spike nicely while I slot home a cog. Not with the Aston though, despite Bamford Rose stage 2 software I really had to stamp on the accelerator to get a decent blip, the response was improved over standard but far to sluggish for a sports car.
Power delivery is linear and there’s a satisfying surge once it gets going, you’re never pinned to the seat but with a manual gearbox and the V8 roaring away it’s an enjoyable drive. The steering is delicious, genuinely perfect to me and I’ll long for it in any car I drive. Immediacy with the weighting off-centre and easy to control your inputs, I always felt in perfect control no matter how tight the corner. Traction control was a bit strange I thought, repeatedly broke traction in lower gears and only knew as I had to make steering corrections. The Vantage breaks away slowly and progressively and is easy to catch mid-convo but a light on the dash would be a welcome heads up for unauthorised skids.
Living with a V8 Vantage Daily.
I’m quite fortunate my job doesn’t need me to transport anything or anyone other than myself particularly often, which is good as you’ll see above it’s quite easy to fill the boot of a Vantage. I feel that’s quite a complimentary photo all being said, but that’s everything I needed for a month at home and it was a squeeze. Glovebox could probably fit a glove in there if you tried, not sure why it needs a button instead of a handle but there you go. Being a well-specced manual my Vantage had the low armrest option fitted so storage was piss poor in the cabin. My iPhone and wallet had to live in the door pocket, the cup holders were small and in the way of your arm when changing gear unless you’re sub 5ft. In which case you couldn’t see over the dash. There’s a shelf behind the drivers seat for something, but in my experience it’s just an easy way to lose things under the seats, my small golf bag might’ve fitted I’m not sure.
Parking was a bit of an issue the Vantage is quite a lot wider than I anticipated, quite a large arse to navigate into spaces and the wing doors open up which uses more space. I had carbon fibre allover my car and the front splitter always had me sweating because you just can’t see where the nose is, hence reverse parking absolutely everywhere I could. Road noise wasn’t too bad, I had a Larini race exhaust so the drone took care of it, but the sport seats were very comfortable. High dash aside the seating position is brilliant you can literally drag your arse along the road if you wish.
You’ll be admired and hated in equal measure. Most of the time you’ll be waved out of junctions, smiled at, stared at and generally admired. However there’s always a few who assume you’re a posh toff who’s spent too much on their car. I was pretty fortunate to experience mainly positives but the odd pleb in a hot hatch may try and have a race which I’m sorry to say you’ll more than likely lose so don’t rise to it. I don’t want anyone to think I’m being deliberately unkind here, I adored my Vantage despite its faults and oddities. I’m very keen to make it into a V12 in the future as the first generation Vantage is one of the best cars ever made. I enjoyed the near 5000 miles I covered in it and I found some brilliant roads to test its character. I’m glad I owned one and finally scratched the itch, it was a little bastard at times and ate thousands of my pounds but I’d do it again in a heartbeat because I’m an idiot. To answer a previous article of mine about the Vantage being a head against heart battle, heart wins every single time.