2016 is shaping up to be a big year for Aston Martin. We're looking forward - in both senses - in the case of the new DB11, which was one of the undoubted stars of the Geneva show.
MAY 10th 2016
Dan Trent – The Time For An Aston V8 Vantage Is Now!
The DB9 and V8 Vantage ranges that have underpinned the Aston Martin line-up for years remain lovely cars. But a clean break is needed as the brand moves into its new era, supported by AMG engines and Mercedes electrical architecture. The DB11 is just that and I love its modernist riff on Aston Martin tradition - wait until you see it in the metal and then you'll realise what a big step it is.
Likeable boss Andy Palmer has been having fun making sure the existing cars go out with a bang though. In just the last few weeks we've had announcement of a limited edition, track focused GT8 based on the V8 Vantage and – huzzah! – the return of the manual gearbox to the V12 Vantage S.
This makes good on Palmer's long-stated promise to offer a manual gearbox on as many cars as possible, picking up on the premiums asked for rare manual versions of recent sports and supercars like the manual DB9 we on PistonHeads discussed recently. I think catering to an old-school, purist crowd is bang on for Aston Martin's image. Most DB11 buyers will probably want autos. But at the heart of the brand is a macho, traditionalist streak it would be a pity to abandon.
Palmer's tastes can be judged by the fact his personal choice from Aston Martin's back catalogue is a 1981 V8 Vantage, discussed previously on GRRC when it went through the Assured Provenance approval with the Works restoration department. Suitably inspired by his example I went on a bit of an online tyre kicking exercise. They're funny cars these. Many supercars of the time were beautiful and daring in their design and engineering. But the AMV8 and Vantage it spawned are utter unreconstructed brutes. This is the American muscle car, reimagined in hand-stitched leather, burr walnut and chrome and with an eccentrically British twist. It shouldn't really be my thing. But I love them.
I prefer the purer 70s looks of the early AMV8s and some scrape beneath £100K. This carb-fed one (POA, admittedly) appeals greatly in all but colour. Further searching revealed some more cars, excitement all too often dashed by the sight of the shifter for the three-speed auto. Mine would have to be a manual I'm afraid. This more butch looking 1982 Vantage is an appealing mix of a tasteful colour and interior, updated in 1991 with a factory 6.3-litre conversion for an apparent cost of £50,000. Golly! I love the apparent clash between the elegance of the cabin and the unashamed brutishness of the looks and under-bonnet muscle. I'm all for originality but I think I'd have to take a little ride height out of it to make it look less like an SUV; other than that it's bang on, the fact Palmer reportedly paid £250,000 for his V8 Vantage putting that 'POA' in context. Still, values are apparently on the up…
I've always thought Aston Martins have a certain caddish charm about them, this example for me the spirit Palmer seems keen to channel into the new product coming down the line. All power to him!
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