If you can’t afford the £120,000 or so required to buy an example of the all-new Aston Martin Vantage V8 4.0 slated for release later this year, perhaps you’d like to consider its forebear, typically available from around £30,000 for a 2006-reg manual one with 50,000 miles and full Aston service history.
It’s tempting, especially since this previous-gen V8 Vantage looks sensational and has a reputation for being one of the best-built Astons yet. Okay, you say, that’s not saying much but its engine is rock solid and, apart from occasional paint bubbling, the bodies are holding up well.
What’s more, generally speaking, the cars seem to have been well looked after and not run much beyond 70,000 miles. There are lots of multiple-owner examples (typically five previous keepers) but, as a Porsche dealer once told me, that’s five honeymoon periods when no expense has been spared to keep the new bride (or groom) just so.
The V8 Vantage coupé was launched in 2005 with a free-revving all-alloy 4.3-litre V8 producing 380bhp and 302lb ft, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox or Speedshift six-speed semi-automatic. Suspension is by double aluminium wishbones with front and rear anti-roll bars. The body is aluminium and, as standard, the interior is trimmed in leather and the fascia in alloy, while the seatsare 10-way electrically adjustable. Original options included a sat-nav that was bad even then. The Roadster followed in 2007 and prices for these now start at around £35,000.
We’ve just had a diesel vRS for three months. Next up: a petrol vRS for three...
There were mutterings about the car’s relative shortage of torque at lower revs but Aston was already working on a more powerful engine, which it released in 2008. The 4.7 V8, which replaced the 4.3, produces 420bhp but, crucially, 347lb ft at lower revs. So equipped, a Vantage 4.7 covers 0-62mph in 4.7sec, two- tenths faster than the 4.3, but it’s in the mid-range that the hike in power is most keenly felt. The 4.7 is cleaner than the 4.3 but road tax starts at £400 compared with the 4.3’s £165. Other changes included a new centre console and new 19in alloy wheels.
Prices for the 4.7 start at around £42,000 (we spied a 2009-reg one-owner 4.7 coupé with 35k miles and full Aston history for £42,480) but £50,000-plus is where the sweetest 2010-reg cars and younger reside.
Meanwhile, also in 2008, envious 4.3 owners were offered the chance to upgrade their Vantage with a new induction system and ECU software that boosted power to 400bhp and torque to 310lb ft. The 4.7’s popular Sports Pack option, comprising Bilstein dampers and lighter alloys, was also made available. It’s worth keeping an eye out for these.
Obviously, with its extra muscle, a 4.7 would be nice to have but a cherished 4.3 is better value. It’s just as achingly beautiful too. If you don’t throw it a backward glance every time you walk away, you don’t deserve one.
How to get one in your garage:
An expert’s view - STUART GOLDSMITH, SENIOR ENGINEER, RIKKI CANN
“The Vantage’s V8 engine is strong and reliable but it doesn’t like being taken for granted. Make sure the car has been properly serviced. That doesn’t mean the work must only have been carried out by main dealers. The specialist service network is just as good if not better since they work on a much greater variety of cars. Check the correct tyres have been fitted and all are in good condition. Air-con and heater controls need to be working correctly as they can be very expensive to put right. When properly maintained at the standard you’d expect of an Aston Martin, a V8 Vantage can be surprisingly affordable to own.”
ENGINE - The alternator belt may squeak from cold but a modified pulley cures it. Over-revving from cold can damage the engine. Check the exhaust bypass valve hasn’t been tampered with. Oil strainers on the 4.3 need to be removed and cleaned at service.
TRANSMISSION - Expect first and second gear selection to be sticky when cold. The clutch lasts up to 40,000 miles with care and is about £3000 to replace.
WHEELS, BRAKES AND SUSPENSION - Check the tyres for alignment. Use worn discs and pads as a haggling ploy. Low-mileage cars can have leaking shocks and broken springs. Bolts to realign the geometry seize and can be costly to replace. Rear hub’s lower bush housings crack.
BODY - Check for water ingress in the boot caused by blocked drain holes. Any rust is likely to be a bodged crash repair. Look for paint defects at the base of A-pillars and around parking sensors. Check for a loose and discoloured grille. Oxidising aluminium can be a problem on early cars and affects wing mirror stems, door bottoms and inside door handles. Paint on the vertical bars behind the radiator grille can flake off.
INTERIOR - The sat-nav can be slow and the plastic gears that open the screen are prone to breaking up. Check leather for wear and splits. Dash-tops suffer shrinkage.
Also worth knowing:
You can buy an extended warranty from Aston Martin – at a price. We were quoted £2192 for 12 months’ Premium cover and £1498 for Plus. The car has to be inspected by an Aston dealer for £600. Then you must wait 90 days before cover is applied, after which the car must be inspected again, for £300.
How much to spend:
£29,000-£34,995 - A spread of 4.3 coupé manuals (some autos) from launch to 2008/57-reg, many with full Aston service history.
£29,000-£34,995 - A spread of 4.3 coupe manuals (some autos) from launch to 2008/57-reg, many with full Aston service history.
£35,000-£39,995 - Sub-40k-mile 4.3 coupe manuals, plus a sprinkling of Roadsters.
£40,000-£44,995 - More coupé and Roadster autos. Small choice of 2008-10-reg 4.7s from £42k.
£45,000-£49,995 - The best 4.3 Roadster autos but quality 4.7s Roadsters and coupés are now available in numbers.
£50,000-£69,995 - Take your pick of 2010-15-reg 4.7s.
One we found:
Aston Martin Vantage 4.3, 2006/06, 51k miles, £33,000
There are lots of nice-sounding Vantages at this money but this private-sale car stood out for its full Aston service history and its new clutch, discs and pads. Plus you can tell a lot about a car from its owner.