The Brave Pill: Aston Martin V8 Vantage

While it's impossible to quote in French at the top of a story without looking like a ponce, a large part of Pill's raison d' etre is to highlight the bargain status of some of our riskier investment opportunities. Including some, like this week's, which allow you to ponce things up on the cheap.

Of course, these things are relative. This week's Pill is being offered for more than the combined values of any two of our previous stars. Yet this stealthy-looking Aston is also the cheapest Vantage V8 we could find on sale anywhere in the UK. Indeed, apart from some faded examples of the not-especially loved six-cylinder DB7, it seems to be the cheapest Aston full stop.

There is a reason for that - a six figure mileage which, if the naysayers are to be believed, will cause Helen Lovejoy to swoon and loudly wonder why anybody won't think of the children. 117,000 miles only equates to a modest 8,400 a year for this early 2005 car, and it seems to have been well looked after throughout that time. But in this rarefied part of the market that odometer tally is regarded as stratospheric; the Vantage pretty much has a nun walking behind it ringing a bell and calling out "shame".

The British market has always been strangely blinkered where it comes to leggier exotics, fetishizing ultra low mileage examples which have barely been used and which are likely to have suffered from the lack of exercise. It's different in other countries. I once seriously considered buying a 350,000-mile Mercedes 500E I found on, the German vendor of which was offering it for almost exactly the same price as cars that had gone less than half as far, on the basis it had been driven flat-out every day and maintained regardless of cost. But in Blighty we often end up with the strange situation of owners afraid to use their hugely expensive cars for fear of dinging their values.

Our Pill frees its next owner from any such concerns, which could be a truly liberating experience. It also gives the chance to get into an Aston fitted with a proper do-it-yourself manual gearbox; this in the same week that the marque announced the radical innovation of putting a clutch pedal into the £149,995 AMR version of the current Vantage.

This Vantage itself is well on the way to classic status. Introduced in 2005 it had its design attributed to both Ian Callum (who started it) and Henrik Fisker (who finished). When new it won the Car of the Year award from Car Design News, the car stylist's favourite magazine, so it's not hard to see why both men would want to be associated with what remains a spectacularly good-looking car. Even after 14 years the muscular, tightly wrapped contours can turn heads, drop jaws and even get the doormen in swish hotels removing the velvet ropes they use to guard the spot next to the entrance.

Okay, so the interior feels old and short on toys by modern standards, with the fit-and-finish of cabin materials in early cars like this one being distinctly, um, hand-built. The reddish facings of the leather trim in this one won't be to all tastes either, but the view from behind the steering wheel of your own Aston Martin is always one that will take some beating. This one also features the early pop-up satellite navigation system, which has all the graphical dexterity of a bus stop departures board and is a great way of amusing passengers, if not actually receiving meaningful guidance.

The Vantage sits on the same bonded aluminium "VH" architecture which underpinned the DB9, and which - in modified guise - still lies at the heart of the brand's GT models. The engine was based on Jaguar's long-serving AJ-V8, both Jag and Aston were owned by Ford at the time, but this was substantially modified with new quad-cam cylinder heads along with a standard dry sump lubrication syste

When new, the Vantage was (mildy) criticised for lacking the effortless low-down muscle that previous Astons had led reviewers to expect. The V8 makes its full 385hp at a high 7,300rpm and the full 302lb ft of torque only arrives at a peaky 5,000rpm. But hindsight has probably done an interesting number on that one; the idea of a rev-happy naturally aspirated engine that isn't going to try and spit you off when the turbos spool up sounds refreshingly different to the modern sportscar norm, doesn't it?

The engine is generally regarded to be tough, but running costs will be high. Routine servicing can be eye-wateringly expensive on an Aston, even when using a specialist to try and reduce the pain. But Vantages don't rust, will do 20-something mpg when cruising and the manual gearbox shouldn't have the appetite for clutches of the boorish automated Speedshift.

This car seems to have been well looked after with recent clutch, tyre and brake replacements according to the vendor, while the MOT history doesn't highlight anything of significance beyond a partial strike by the lighting system last year. (It does however prove the car has been thoroughly enjoyed, covering an impressive 22,000 miles between March 2016 and April 2017.)

In a world where even the ugly ducking that was the iQ-based Cygnet has now got past £30,000, it's hard not to see this Vantage as something of a steal. As a curly haired TV presenter once asked, "is there a better expression in the English language than 'let's take the Aston'?"

See the original advert here

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Comments (56) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Harry Flashman 04 May 2019

    I'll kick this off. Owned one (2007 4.3 coupe), loved it, but big bills at 30k to 40k miles: I spent a lot getting my fully histories, two owner car sorted over the 10,000 miles I had it, and stuff went wrong every month. Mostly consumables though, so if this car has had clutch, brakes and suspension done recently, OK. But absolutely every part on these cars costs an enormous amount - more than Ferraris for some stuff (£600 for a single coil spring, anyone?), as you will find on the numerous threads on these here. And specialists charge almost as much labour as dealers: floating around somewhere on the AM forum is my hilarious (think thousands) quote to get the brakes replaced. When you start replacing things like engine mounts and suspension arms, as you will on a high mileage car like this, have lots of cash ready for parts, and have a local garage do the work.

    And the electronics are made of chocolate. Woe betide you if you need to replace a module somewhere. I did, and I wept.

    I'd have a convertible 4.7 version again, though. I'm stupid like that. Gorgeous looks, noise and drive. Hateful reliability.

    Edited by Harry Flashman on Saturday 4th May 07:50

  • Edward Robbins 04 May 2019

    Blimey that is an awful lot of car for the money! I remember when these beauts came out back in 2005 and pulling up alongside one at a set of traffic lights at night, I’d not long passed my driving test and was (and still am) OBSESSED by Aston’s, this thing looked so sleek, so modern so sexy. I remember thinking how cool the pop up sat nav looked at night! I wound down the window and gave the driver a massive grin and a big thumbs up and when the lights turned green he thanked me - what a sound, a sound that will stay with me for the rest of my life. So if by some chance the chap who was driving that Aston by the cross keys pub in Corsham, Wiltshire is reading this now - thank you!

  • The_Doc_ 04 May 2019

    Completely agree! Stop buying cars with low mileage and being scared to use them!! I love my 150k Audi, because all the depreciation is over with. I also had a Fiat coupe which had over 100k on it. Buy high and seller higher, that's my motto!

  • foliedouce 04 May 2019

    I had a 2006 4.3 for a couple of years - lovely car, never went wrong, not cheap to service has been eluded but no more than my TVRs. Back in the day you could get good maintenance from Rick & Kay at DMS, since closed down frown

    Also great presence and loads of friendly comments.

    I'd have another one but would go for a newer 4.7 but then that's really the point of the Brave Pill!

    Looking at the how well this has been maintained, I think it would be worth a punt. Maybe sub £20k though

  • snuffy 04 May 2019

    I've also owned one, a 2005 couple, which I bought about 7 years ago. Mine was very low mileage, about 30k at the time, but I think I was the 7th owner (so it had had about 1 a year at the time). Servicing costs was not excessive and the only 2 non service items were new brake pads and a new rear bumper because the old one sort of had bowed somehow (you couldn't really see it unless you looked and the light caught it). Nothing went wrong with it for the time I had it.

    However, as much as a tried to like it, I never really got on with it. They do look fantastic (mine was black) but it lacks something - 2 turbos in my opinion !

    So it went after 18 months. Maybe the V12 would have been better for me ? But I can't afford one of those.

    Finally, they do look way better than the new Vantage.

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