Five Astons – DB7, V8 Vantage, DB9, Vanquish and V8

2015 / 2016 Drive-My

Five Astons to buy now! Our market expert reveals how to buy well from as little as £15k with a DB7, AM V8, Vantage, Vanquish or DB9. With Aston prices on the march these five models look good value for now, if you buy carefully Words: Russ Smith. Photography Charlie Magee.

One of our publishing directors used to have an old smoker of a DB5 that appeared regularly in the office car park (when it wasn’t being fixed), and for a four-figure sum a friend bought a DBS V8 that just needed some floorpan welding. Those days are gone – Aston Martin has been elevated from a marque to a brand that rivals Ferrari, and values of many have risen to the point where they are bought to admire more than drive.

Things don’t look great from an aspiring enthusiast’s point of view, but the Aston Martin boat hasn’t quite pulled out of port yet. There’s a selection of models that can still be bought for less than £80k – some for a fraction of that amount – and which have the potential to thrill and beguile. Astons you can enjoy driving for what they are without worrying about the weather, the road surface or how many miles you’re putting on the dial.

We’ve brought five of them together to see what they’re like behind the wheel and to talk about ownership realities. History tells us that all Astons eventually rise in value, and our chosen cars all look to have that potential.


ASTON MARTIN V8

Sheer ubiquity probably delayed the V8’s rise in the market; the shape was around in its various slightly tinkered forms for more than 20 years. But the tide has turned; Vantage and Volante versions now fetch serious money and the DBS that it was based on has flown past the £100k mark. The best regular V8s are now around £75-£80k, nearly double what you would have paid four years ago. That means more of them have been getting the care they both need and deserve. The first V8 coupé I drove some years ago left me unimpressed; it felt kind of baggy and loose, like a larger version of a very secondhand Ford Capri. But Ian Brown’s 1974 example made me think again. From the driver’s seat it is vastly more taut and together, much more the smooth and capable GT you expect it to be. Voicing my opinion on the contrast to our seasoned bunch of Aston enthusiasts, it seems this is common with V8s. There was a lot of variation from car to car even when they were new, and that is exaggerated over time by wear and different degrees of maintenance. You should definitely expect to drive a few examples before you find the one that feels right to you.

1974 Aston Martin V8

On the production line each engine was run in for two and- a-half hours. V8’s snout added 3in of length over the DBS V8. As a carb-fed model, this V8 benefits from larger boot space as there’s no need for a surge tank for fuel injection. It took a good V8 to win Russ over.


Don’t expect a sports car; the V8 was always intended as a smooth grand tourer for covering a lot of ground in. Despite the big V8 it’s no quicker off the mark or faster flat out than a six-cylinder E-type, but with roomier, more comfortable surroundings. Like the Jag it has a dashboard in a variety of blacks rather than any fancy wood, with a full set of seven gauges dead ahead of the driver to reinforce the impression that you’re at the helm of something important that needs your full attention, not merely steering.

And on that subject the V8 is quite heavy to manoeuvre at low speeds, and retains a pleasantly meaty feel even when tanking on a bit. It’s not hard work, because the near-prefect driving position has the wheel quite low-slung, just where you want it for ease of use, but it does mean you quickly feel confident to drive the car with a fair degree of enthusiasm.

You might compare the Aston V8 with a Ferrari 400, and it holds up well. The Ferrari is slightly (but only slightly) more involving to drive, but not as pleasing to behold. And though the Aston is now twice the price of the Ferrari it should prove cheaper to run, and while Prancing Horse fans bear deep prejudice towards rear seats, Aston buyers don’t, so the price differential is likely to remain.


OWNING A V8

This was my first Aston Martin, bought 13 years ago,’ says Ian Brown. ‘I nearly bought a DB6 before that, but got divorced instead. I’ve known this car for most of its life as it belonged to a Cambridgeshire potato farmer I used to go shooting with, and was fitted with a long-range 29-gallon tank from new. It’s the only Aston you can get a match-shooting rifle across the back of. After my friend died I bought it from his family, though it took some persuading. There were 45,000 miles on the clock then and that’s up to 101,000 miles now.

‘Early on I had the front suspension rebuilt by RS Williams. It cost about £6000. The firm sets up a lot of racers so it drives well now. ‘I also chose to have the differential rebuilt last year, which cost another £3000, but that included changing it to a taller ratio for easier cruising.

‘Also to improve usability I’ve fitted Carbotech brake pads, which make a big difference to stopping from motorway speeds, along with Avon CR6 tyres. They are twice as expensive and last half as long, but are worth every penny. ‘In general I expect to average £2000-£2500 a year on servicing and consumables.’


TECH DATA 1974 ASTON MARTIN V8

Engine 5340cc alloy V8, dohc per bank, four Weber 42 DCNF twin-choke carbs

Power 280bhp @ 6000rpm; 320lb ft @ 3000rpm

Transmission Five-speed ZF manual, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion, power-assisted

Suspension Front: independent by wishbones, coil springs, antiroll bar and Koni telescopic dampers. Rear: independent by De Dion axle, trailing links, Watt linkage, Koni telescopic dampers

Brakes Ventilated discs, 273mm front and 264mm rear, servo-assisted

Weight 1811kg (3990lb)

Performance Top speed: 145mph; 0-60mph: 7.5sec

Fuel consumption 16mpg

Cost new £12,765

Values now £32,500-£75,000


ASTON MARTIN V8 VANTAGE

The last time I felt thrust like this was on a drag strip, surrounded by a rollcage and wearing a crash helmet and race overalls. So to feel it again while sat in an oversize leather armchair, surrounded by walnut and wearing my best corduroys was a shock as immense as the V8 Vantage’s two-tonne kerb weight. ‘You’re smiling,’ said owner David Cawthorne after my acceleration run. Sat in the passenger seat, he was smiling too. There was no wriggle from the rear end or squeal of tortured rubber, the Vantage just hooked up and headed for the next county with no tail-off at all before we ran out of road and confirmed that the enormous brakes are equally impressive.

1994 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Rear light clusters, unlike some parts of the car’s exterior trim, are bespoke to the Vantage. Twin Eaton superchargers help 5.3-litre V8 develop a mighty 550bhp. 1920kg of Aston needs huge ventilated discs and AP Racing calipers to stop it. DB7 was 200kg lighter. Chunky steering wheel lets down an otherwise impressive cockpit.


When unveiled in 1993 this was the world’s most powerful production car engine, largely created by bolting two superchargers to the old four-cam Aston V8.

However, I wouldn’t want you to get the impression that this is some kind of one-trick pony, because this Aston is remarkably composed and capable in corners too, with a lovely weight and feel to the power steering.

The shift on the six-speed gearbox borrowed from a Corvette ZR-1 is light and smooth too, so must improve with age – it was criticised by testers in period. I’m warned about the heavy clutch, but it’s lighter than that of the V8 so I’m more than happy. My sole criticism is that the firm seat is a bit wide and slidy for my skinny backside, but we all have our cross to bear.

Lateral slippage aside, the cabin is a fine place to be, with a wellpadded softness to its leather-covered lines and the impression that it’s all better screwed together than Astons of old. Only the steering wheel spoils the ambience, as its chunky rectangular boss looks like a small attaché case and at anything other than dead ahead obscures your view of the gauges.

‘The way it drives should have the Vantage worshipped like some kind of deity’

The V8 Vantage grew out of the unpopular Virage, but the only panels they share are the doors and roof. The clever rework by Ken Greenley and John Heffernan added 100 per cent beef to the rather spare and ill-proportioned lines of the original. Wisely, it was never called the Virage Vantage, and to mistakenly do so now without the safety net of inverted commas is guaranteed to cause offence. This is very much a different car and owners like to keep that fact clear. Perhaps that hasn’t been made clear enough because the way it drives should have the Vantage worshipped like some kind of deity. Only 239 were built during a five-year production run, so they have the benefit of exclusivity too. Yet at the moment they are only worth about three to four times the price of a Virage, and though that might sound a lot, it isn’t. Think of this as Aberdeen Angus fillet steak alongside a quarter-pounder from the freezer shop.

Sometime soon collectors will wake up to this – the best examples are already changing hands for £120k or so – so get in ahead of them. One like our test car that’s got a few miles on the clock can still be had for around £85,000. In Aston Martin circles that’s not expensive – it wouldn’t buy you a corroded, non-running DB6. And I have absolutely no doubt which is the better buy.


OWNING A V8 VANTAGE

‘I bought my Vantage from HWM in 1996 when it was just 18 months old,’ says David Cawthorne. ‘It’s mostly used for touring or Aston Martin Club events – with twin superchargers and 550bhp it’s not the sort of thing you go to the shops in. A lot of my trips are abroad so it’s now done 75,000 miles with very little trouble.

Preventive maintenance helps, and annually I spend £3000-£4000. It gets serviced every year by HWM, and goes to Newport Pagnell every 20,000 miles for supercharger belts, which is an engine-out job. ‘There was one incident when the alternator packed up in Macon on the way back from a tour in France and we were towed to a Renault garage. At least it was after the tour had finished. Aston Martin flew out a new alternator but it had the wrong pulley. Luckily the French guys were able to modify it and Aston fitted a new one for free when I got home. The most important thing is that even after all this time, whenever I drive this car it puts a smile on my face.’


TECH DATA 1994 ASTON MARTIN V8 VANTAGE

Engine 5340cc alloy V8, dohc per bank, Bosch sequential fuel injection, twin Eaton superchargers

Power 550bhp @ 6500rpm; 550lb ft @ 4000rpm

Transmission Six-speed ZF manual, RWD

Steering Rack and pinion, power-assisted

Suspension Front: independent by wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar and gas-filled dampers. Rear: independent by coil springs, multi-link De Dion axle, gas-filled dampers

Brakes Ventilated discs, 362mm front and 285mm rear, servo-assisted

Weight 1920kg (4224lb)

Performance Top speed: 191mph; 0-60mph: 4.6sec

Fuel consumption 12mpg

Cost new £177,600

Values now £60,000-£120,00


ASTON MARTIN DB7 COUPÉ

Widely acclaimed at launch as the best-looking British sports car since the E-type, by the time it was superseded by the V12 Vantage model in 1999 the DB7 coupé had become the best-selling Aston Martin of all time. And that was despite a £78,500 price tag that made it £5000 more than a Porsche 928 GTS. They remain rivals, with both priced in the high teens today, but I’m willing to bet that the DB7 will soon regain its price premium over the 928. Time and familiarity may have taken the edge off the Aston’s visual appeal, and it’s a less focused driving tool, but it’s still a whole lot sexier than the Porsche, and that’s why people will buy them. Well, that and the fact that they are still by some margin the cheapest way to buy into the Aston Martin dream.

1995 Aston Martin DB7 Coupé

Interior is classy, despite some of the controls coming from a Ford Granada (Scorpio EU). Ian Callum-shaped body was built by Motor Panels in Coventry and painted by Rolls-Royce. Jaguar AJ6-derived straight six was built and tuned at TWR’s workshops. Eaton supercharger urges you into the horizon with a 335bhp shove.


To make sweeping judgements about DB7s based on today’s test car is a little unfair as it’s a daily driver that has covered more than 120,000 miles, but it should also provide reassurance for potential DB7 buyers for that very same reason. In fairness it does feel a bit loose in places, but almost anything does at this mileage. None of it detracts from the enjoyment of driving the car. It’s a thoroughly pleasant experience, as is the XJS that it was heavily based on. Plenty of that comes through in the way the DB7 feels and handles, and the delicate and sublime ride/handling balance is what you expect from a Jaguar and more. This is one of those rare performance cars that you can instantly drive quickly without feeling threatened by it.

‘This is one of those rare performance cars that you can instantly drive quickly without feeling threatened by it’

As a past XJ-S owner I felt right at home with the familiar slight vague indecision as I started to turn the wheel from one lock to the other. I had to ask and owner Chris Done confirmed that both cars use the same Adwest power steering rack. In a way it makes the DB7 feel like an older car to drive, more Seventies than Nineties, but that only adds to its classic cachet in my mind, and the surroundings are certainly bang up to date and assembled with a quality that wasn’t always present in the Jaguar.

What the DB7 also has over the six-cylinder XJS is a lot more poke. As with the V8 Vantage, the credit here belongs to an Eaton supercharger – just the one this time – which helps the Aston’s 3.2-litre straight-six engine crank out more power than even a 6.0-litre V12 XJS. Even with the optional four-speed automatic gearbox that was specified for just more than half the DB7s sold, this is a swift car with an intoxicatingly instant throttle response thanks to that supercharger. It also adds a faint but endearing vintage-like whine to the engine note, loud enough to provide character without becoming an irritation.

Some testers have grumbled about the driving position being too ‘Italian’ with no reach adjustment for the steering wheel, but I look right at home in downtown Turin so it wasn’t an issue – everything is an easy, tangible reach.

And I don’t mind all the parts that have come from Mazda, Jaguar, Ford and other parts bins; they’ve all been well-integrated and have the appeal of lowering ownership costs. It all adds up to one Aston I could realistically see myself owning.


OWNING A DB7

Chris Done not only owns a DB7 but specialises in their service and repair, and is also building a database of what they share parts with. He says, ‘You want a cheap Aston Martin? It’s do-able. I’ve had this coupé for five years now and it’s my only car so it gets used all year round. Before that I owned a DBS V8 for 29 years.

‘The DB7 now has 122,000 miles on it but apart from rubber bushes all the running gear is original including the exhaust system, though I did have to replace the chrome tips. I do all the work on it myself so it hardly costs me anything to run, but for most people I’d say you could run one for £1000 a year, and that’s everything bar fuel. ‘They do last really well if cared for – I know a guy who has 194,000 miles on his.

‘You have to be careful when buying one, though – there are a lot of lemons about. Cars got to a certain age and value, then owners didn’t want to spend Aston money to fix them so did nothing. ‘You need to be paying about £15-£20k for a DB7 or you’re asking for trouble.’


TECH DATA 1995 ASTON MARTIN DB7 COUPÉ

Engine 3239cc alloy straight-six, dohc, Zytec sequential fuel injection, Eaton supercharger

Power 335bhp @ 5500rpm; 360lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission Four-speed auto, RWD

Steering Rack and pinion, powerassisted
Suspension Front: independent by wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar and telescopic dampers. Rear: independent by wishbones, longitudinal control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar (from chassis 100172) and telescopic dampers

Brakes Ventilated discs, servo-assisted

Weight 1723kg (3794lb)

Performance Top speed: 157mph; 0-60mph: 5.8sec

Fuel consumption 20mpg

Cost new £78,500

Values now £15,000-£23,000


ASTON MARTIN VANQUISH

Prepare for a culture shock – Aston’s technological leap from DB7 to Vanquish was akin to Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen releasing a hip-hop album. Only the V12 engine was carried over from the DB7 Vantage, and that was heavily revised to rev higher and kick out an extra 40bhp. It’s clothed in carbonfibre and aluminium to an Ian Callum design that’s still recognisably an Aston Martin, but drawn so taut that it looks like you could pop it with a pin. Nail the throttle pedal and you’ll think someone has, it’s that explosive. Not quite as awe-inspiring as the V8 Vantage, but there’s only a fraction in it; this is a genuine supercar with near-200mph capabilities that provides a more than credible alternative to Ferrari’s 550 Maranello. I’m drawn to that comparison because my first thought from behind the wheel was ‘am I in a Ferrari?’ It has that same engine revviness and darty steering response that makes people love Italian sports cars. So while on the one hand it doesn’t really feel like an Aston Martin any more, on the other hand I really don’t care. If this is the brave Newport Pagnell world, I’m in.

2003 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish

Muscular body barely contains the Vanquish’s gigantic V12 heart. Car magazine described the Vanquish as the best executed, best engineered Aston Martin ever. 5.9-litre V12’s 400lb ft torque proved too much for early semi-automatic cars’ clutches – thankfully this one’s a manual. Cosy interior brings a more modern approach to luxury motoring.


Even the way the cockpit (and it is one) wraps around you is a big departure from the cosy comfort of past Astons. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very comfortable, but well-fitted Armani rather than off-the-peg Harris Tweed. All the controls are just where you want them; Aston listened to previous criticism and made the wheel fully adjustable for reach and rake this time. A lot of buyers went for the semi-automatic gearchange option, but David Such’s car has the desirable six-speed manual. This takes some getting used to because the gate is so narrow it’s easy to hit fifth instead of third and second rather than fourth, but after a while I get the hang of it.

The nice thing is that you don’t have to drive the Vanquish as if your pants are on fire – it’s a car of split personality, happy to be driven as a docile GT for regular use. But when the mood takes you, just crank it up over 3500rpm and it becomes a testosterone-fuelled cage fighter. ‘Do you want some?’ Actually, yes please. At any rational speed it instantly goes where you point it and just grips and grips, daring you to try harder. It felt way beyond my capabilities to upset either end of the car, or even call on assistance from the traction control. Some have marked the brakes down for not being up to snuff, but they must have been driving like complete lunatics as even slowing from track speeds I’ve got them noted as stunning. The Vanquish is set to be a legend, and the market is taking notice. A few years ago you could pick them up for £35k. They’re double that now. Only 1503 were made, plus another 1000-or-so of the 60bhp more powerful Vanquish S, so the market will never be crowded. Look after a nice manual one and you can’t go wrong.


OWNING A V12 VANQUISH

‘Last year I took early retirement and thought, “Who needs somewhere to live?” So I bought this last November,’ jokes David Such. ‘It’s the only blue one with a manual gearbox. I haven’t got a garage so it lives outside, but that hasn’t stopped me entering it for Club concours. Before this I raced a fuel-injected V8 for 26 years but wrote that off by hitting the pitwall at Donington sideways – it wound up banana-shaped.

‘I always go to Le Mans and took the Vanquish this year. It coped with a six-hour queue for the campsite, though I’m glad it’s not an auto – they eat the clutch packs. The “check engine” light comes on regularly, so I now carry a code reader I can plug in to see what’s wrong and reset the light. It’s never actually broken down, it just doesn’t like being driven slowly – that upsets the lambda sensor, which is what sets the light off.

 ‘Values of these are really taking off, and you have to pay a premium for manual cars. Low-mileage stuff has already gone stupid, with prices heading for £100,000. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at their original sale price in three years.’


TECH DATA 2003 ASTON MARTIN V12 VANQUISH

Engine 5925cc alloy V12, dohc per bank, sequential fuel injection

Power 460bhp @ 6500rpm; 400lb ft @ 5000rpm

Transmission Six-speed ZF manual or auto, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion, variable power-assistance

Suspension Front and rear: independent by wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bars and telescopic dampers

Brakes Ventilated discs, 355mm front and 330mm rear, servo-assisted

Weight 1835kg (4040lb)

Performance Top speed: 196mph; 0-60mph: 4.4sec

Fuel consumption 14mpg

Cost new £158,000

Values now £55,000-£80,000


ASTON MARTIN DB9

Yes, there is a bit of a game of spot the difference when you are first confronted by the DB9 and Vanquish. Aston Martin is keen on its new generic look but there are big clues to help distinguish these cars – just don’t ask me to identify any of the current range. Things like the DB9’s bonnet continuing all the way to the grille, the Vanquish’s large auxiliary front lamps instead of brake cooling ducts, and its rear arch blisters extending into the doorskins, while the DB9’s stop short. Overall the DB9 looks that bit less aggressive, and that’s deliberate as it was intended to be a grand tourer rather than a bruiser, a rival to the Bentley Continental GT rather than anything with a Prancing Horse on the nose.

The first car built at Aston’s new Gaydon factory, it uses less composites and more aluminium in the structure, which along with other production streamlining allowed it to sell for two-thirds the price of a Vanquish. The engine is basically the same, but remapped with 10bhp at the top end traded for a bit more mid-range oomph. All of which of course means that the DB9 will never be as coveted and collectable as its noisy older brother. It may come as a surprise, but you can still pick up decent early ones for £30-£40k. Where they go from there is still anyone’s guess, because this is the car here whose future stardom is least assured, but as I said at the start all Aston Martins go up in the end.

2004 Aston Martin DB9

Aston built 93 prototype DB9s. Just a decade or so prior they struggled to sell that many cars in a year. Carbon fibre torque tube between engine and gearbox provides a stiff backbone to the car – meaning the DB9 never gets soggy in the bends. Silky-smooth ZF 6HB26 automatic gearbox controls located either side of the starter button in the centre of the dashboard. Very early engines were built by Cosworth, before production moved to an Aston workshop in Cologne in 2004.


If you want to shorten the odds, seek out one with a manual gearbox. It won’t be easy as only about one in 20 DB9s were so equipped, but that also means there will be an orderly queue when you finally come to sell.

As it stands, having driven the Vanquish and DB9 back-to-back, the latter feels like a half-price bargain. The difference in performance between the two cars is marginal on the road, where the DB9 feels more civilised and less darty, just well planted on the road and with similarly unreachable limits of grip.

And at the risk of having my manhood called into question, I actually prefer this car’s six-speed auto over the manual gearbox in the Vanquish. I think the novelty of having dash-mounted push buttons for the gearshift rather than a stick – something I’ve not seen outside a Fifties De Soto – was a factor here. Spaced either side of the starter button, being able to quickly prod P, R, N or D seems so logical and easy when you try it. The automatic gearbox also suits the car’s nature, and gives me more time to enjoy the rest of its dynamic abilities.

And just like owner Gary Bownes I also don’t try the flappypaddle gearchanges. It has a whiff of a gimmick, especially when the gearbox’s computer seems perfectly in tune with what you want and when, and shifts between ratios in microseconds.

The electrically adjustable driver’s seat provides a perfect driving position and was both my size and very supportive. Unfortunately I turn on the seat heating function by accident and can’t find the off button while on the move. It’s very effective, but not what you want on a warm summer’s day in Surrey. But at any temperature this is a superbly easy car to drive fast.


OWNING A DB9

‘I only bought this three weeks ago,’ says Gary Bownes. ‘It’s my first Aston Martin and was a total impulse buy. ‘I took my car in for a service and this was sat on the forecourt. I joked about taking it as a courtesy car, and it turned out that it was there being prepared for sale. So I did a deal – and I have no regrets, it’s that fantastic. Even better, I was able to add it to my Admiral multicar policy for a couple of hundred quid. It seems their rates are really low for DB9s for some reason.

‘I can probably get my money back on it in two years, but then again I probably won’t. Would you sell a car like this once you’ve got it? It’s a real mood-changer – you cannot help getting out of it in a better mood than when you got in. And that’s priceless.

‘I shall now be joining the Aston Martin Owners’ Club and will get along to a few meetings to see what that’s like. ‘And I really must get round to trying the semi-automatic gearshift; I’ve only driven it in automatic mode so far, I just haven’t felt the need for anything else.’


TECH DATA 2004 ASTON MARTIN DB9

Engine 5935cc alloy V12, dohc per bank, sequential fuel injection

Power 450bhp @ 6000rpm; 420lb ft @ 5000rpm

Transmission Six-speed auto, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion, variable power-assistance

Suspension Front and rear: independent by wishbones, coil springs, antiroll bars and telescopic dampers

Brakes Ventilated discs, 355mm front and 330mm rear, servo-assisted

Weight 1760kg (3876lb)

Performance Top speed: 186mph; 0-60mph: 5.4sec

Fuel consumption 16mpg

Cost new £103,000

Value now £27,500-£50,000


BUYING ONE

So how Aston can you afford to go? Taking them in order of value, you really can still buy a DB7 worth having for £15,000 – less than a fifth of what it cost new. If necessary, it is worth paying a little extra for one with the right service history – in specialist hands and not tailing off five-ten years ago. Check that the aircon works and there are no signs of rust breaking out in the bulkhead, both of which can cause expenditure in thousands.

There are plenty of DB9s about with not a lot of mileage for prices in the low thirties, but you’ll need to add £6000-£7000 for a manual ’box, despite it being £3000 less than the auto when new. Check underneath for signs of leaking transmission fluid, and make sure everything electrical works – especially seat adjustment, windows and central locking. Constant improvement means the newer the better.

Decades of being the cheap Aston means the condition of V8s can vary wildly. Nice aluminium outer panels are no guide and can hide quite serious corrosion in the steel sub-structure so be prepared to get grubby looking at everything or hire a pro to inspect it. Blown cylinder head gaskets are common so look for water in the oil and vice versa. You might find something for less, but think of £50k as the starting point for ‘safe’ purchases.

Already it’s hard to find a Vanquish for much below £60k, and prices are firming up all the time – low-milers will easily fetch £80,000. And consider 5000 miles a year to be average for Astons, not the usual 10-12k. Don’t buy without removing the front undertray to check the crossmember for rot, because it will cost many thousands to repair. And check the gearbox shifts cleanly and without much clutch slip as repairing that can cost five grand. The V8 Vantage is one of the old-school Astons, which means that if you do get problems the expense can be enormous. So above all the others this is a car to have professionally inspected by an Aston expert before buying. At close to the price of a house, think of it as a matter-of-course survey. Check when the supercharger belts were last replaced because it’s a four-figure engine-out job that needs doing every 20,000 miles. And those superchargers have the potential to put a lot of strain on the old V8.


THE BOTTOM LINE

There are no duds here, either from the point of view of driving enjoyment or being able to at least get your money back (and possibly a bit more to cover running costs) when you come to sell later on. So take your pick by era or budget. Buy with care and you are unlikely to be disappointed.

For something that everyone will instantly see as a classic, it has to be the V8. If you’d prefer a car for more than weekend use, either the DB7 or DB9 come to the fore, and I’m particularly drawn to the DB7’s potential for more affordable running costs.

‘There are no duds here. Buy with care and you are unlikely to be disappointed’

Any debate over whether the Vanquish – launched 14 years ago – is old enough to be considered a classic ends here. It’s a proper hero car and the queue for them has already started to form. The James Bond connection never hurts, either, even if this Aston’s appearance was in the underwhelming Die Another Day. But the real hero here, the car that to my surprise I am finding it hard to get out of my mind, is the V8 Vantage. It may be an overengined dinosaur, but it also provides one of THE great driving experiences. I’m just glad it exists.


Thanks to: The Aston Martin Owners Club, particularly David Such for gathering the cars together, AstonDB7.com and astonmartins.com


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