From the May 2021 issue of Car and Driver.
Aston Martin’s gorgeous Vantage could sell on looks alone if it weren’t such a compelling car to drive too. Developed under Ford ownership, the entry-level Aston borrowed a few obvious bits from the corporate parts bin, such as the spindly Jaguar key and the Volvo fob and navigation unit. Yet it still captures nearly all the specialness of the twice-as-expensive DBS and Vanquish. Building each Vantage by hand took 200 hours, and the attention to detail shows in the spectacular leather interior, the swan doors that open with a dignified 12-degree upswing, and the machined-aluminum gauges. Aston Martin overhauled Jaguar’s AJ 4.2-liter V-8 for Vantage duty, giving it a larger bore and a shorter stroke, an additional 80 horses, and a 7300-rpm rev limiter (up from 6200 rpm). The 380-hp 4.3-liter V-8 grew to 4.7 liters and 420 horses for 2009. You want one with the six-speed manual transmission, because a ripping, naturally aspirated V-8 only improves when you combine it with a stick.
Only a handful of manual-transmission cars are for sale at any given time, and many still have very low mileage. Figure on mid-$30,000s to low $40,000s for a 4.3-liter coupe or convertible with the six-speed stick and 20K to 40K miles. Knock off a couple of grand for the more common automated manual. Later models with the 4.7-liter go for 10 to 15 percent more, which is about half what the bonkers V12 Vantage costs.
The factory clutch is notoriously weak, and the tall reverse gear accelerates wear. Failures can occur in as few as 20,000 miles, but aftermarket replacements are more resilient. Other issues are small, such as thermostats that require more frequent replacement than normal. DIY skills are recommended, as dealer service and parts are exotically priced, with $650 oil changes, $700 coolant flushes, and $1400 dampers.
An Owner’s Experience
In 2008, while shopping for a then new E90-generation BMW M3 with plenty of options, Rich Seidlitz was astonished to find that a lightly used V8 Vantage cost less than the Bimmer. He pulled the trigger in 2011, buying a 2007 manual coupe with 21,000 miles for $75,000. Just a few weeks later, someone backed into it, which had him scouring internet forums for advice. Surprised by the lack of Vantage community, Seidlitz started making DIY maintenance videos, which eventually led to his own website, Redpants.lol (an inside joke about a particularly loud outfit he once wore), where he offers advice and sells parts. He’s found some smart substitutions, such as using less expensive thermostats made by Jaguar, and he’s also created modifications, such as a lightweight battery kit and, for the track-day crowd, a catch can to prevent oil getting into the intake. A decade into Vantage ownership and with 90,000 miles on his car, Seidlitz says his Aston universally receives positive attention, unlike the eat-the-rich responses that Ferrari and Lamborghini owners sometimes endure.
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