Is the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S unfairly forgotten in Aston's history? Potentially. Because we all remember the original V12 Vantage, the realisation of that incredible RS Concept and the memorable Clarkson Top Gear vid. The limited edition cars, by their very nature, are often held in high regard, too: GT12, Zagato, V600 to name three. And now the new Vantage is up and running, with the manual gearbox coming to the UK soon and the Roadster not far behind, the previous V12 S is in danger of being forgotten. Which it shouldn't be.
On launch a few years back it was described as "a night and day step up from the previous V12 Vantage"; apparently there was a "leap" from V12 to V12 S, indicative of "just how much room for improvement there actually was." It was more powerful, significantly better to drive, arguably even better to look at and every inch the Vantage flagship to mark 100 years of Aston back in 2013.
But then came the manual V12 S, and the various valedictory specials, and the early Speedshift cars were discarded somewhat. Which means that cars like this Stratus White Vantage, showing just 17,000 miles, are available at £65,990. It's still possible to pay more money for an older V12 Vantage with more miles, which goes to show the value on offer here. Sure, the Speedshift automated manual is far from the greatest, but then neither Aston's six- or seven-speed manuals are particularly pleasant, so it's not like a prospective buyer is missing out on a great combination of gearbox and naturally aspirated engine. Oh alright, we'd rather have one of the V12 Vantage S manuals, too, but the cheapest one of those on PH at the moment is £125k. So basically twice as much.
Just think what the £65,000 - or the same as one of those new 4.0-litre 718s - is buying you here. One of the 21st century's prettiest cars, powered by one of its greatest engines, and with a chassis really able of exploiting it. The Vantage is still raved about for very good reason: naff interior and less-than-perfect transmissions aside, it was absolutely wonderful to drive.
Of course, it would be sensible to have a healthy contingency fund for running a 200mph Aston Martin, and to expect a little more depreciation as well. A V12 doesn't immediately save an Aston, unfortunately, as the residual values of the DB7 Vantage and DB9 can attest.
But the V12 Vantage S is a vastly better car than those two, as well as rarer. There simply isn't anything that offers the Vantage's range of abilities for this money: a contemporary GT3 will be sharper to drive, but cost at least £100,000; you could buy a 12-cylinder Continental GT for the same sort of money, but it'll feel like a ship by comparison; and could you really spend £65k on an F-Type SVR, knowing a V12 Aston is also available? Exactly. Hopefully the V12 S will get the recognition it deserves soon; until then, its underrated status could mean one or two canny purchases to be snapped up.
SPECIFICATION - ASTON MARTIN V12 VANTAGE S
Engine: 5,935cc, V12
Transmission: 7-speed automated manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 573@6,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 457@5,750rpm
Recorded mileage: 17,000
First registered: 2014
Price new: £138,000
Yours for: £65,990