It can be nerve-wracking to consider driving a high-end car on a daily basis. And true, some are notorious for nightmarish reliability. But bargain pricing doesn’t always mean problems. There are quite a few used high-performance cars, like the Porsche Cayman, Ferrari 360, and Audi R8 that can be both relatively-inexpensive and reliable. And there’s another name that belongs on that list: Aston Martin V8 Vantage. When it was new, the V8 Vantage was something of an entry-level supercar, competing against the Porsche 911. And now, it’s even more of an everyday-driver bargain.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage specs and features
When it launched in 2005, it came with a 4.3-liter V8, which made 380 hp and 317 lb-ft. This was increased in 2008 to a 4.7-liter V8, Hagerty reports, rated at 420 hp. There was also the S trim, which made 430 hp, had a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds and a 190-mph top speed.
Also, while a semi-automatic transmission was available, Jalopnik reports, Aston Martin also offered the V8 Vantage with a 6-speed manual. In addition, the car has a roughly 50:50 weight distribution, What Car reports, and a standard limited-slip differential. It also comes with wishbone-style independent suspension, and 4-wheel slotted disc brakes. Someone even made a rally version, Petrolicious reports.
The Aston Martin is also appropriately luxurious. There’s full-grain leather upholstery, heated mirrors, built-in navigation, and automatic climate control. Not to mention its overall interior and exterior design, which Automobile Magazine reports still looks modern today. That’s thanks to designer Ian Callum following the famed golden ratio.
And, for a 2-seater, the V8 Vantage is also surprisingly good in daily driving.
Daily-driving an Aston Martin V8 Vantage
MotorBiscuit actually has on-staff first-hand experience with daily-driving an Aston Martin V8 Vantage. One of our writers, Gabrielle DeSantis, owns one.
As a true sports car, she reports it does lose something compared to a 911. It’s more of a grand tourer in that regard. But in terms of refinement and livability, she is very impressed. “The suspension and handling,” she said, are “so ungodly smooth that it distorts your perception of how fast you are going.” 120 mph feels like 60 mph. And while the seats don’t quite hug you like a pair of Recaros, they’re like leather lounge chairs in their level of comfort.
Several other automotive journalists have owned or still own Aston Martin V8 Vantages. British journalist Alex Goy, for example, needed a more practical car to complement his Morgan 3-Wheeler. So, as he described to The Smoking Tire’s Matt Farah (video below: spicy language warning), he traded in his Lotus Elise for a V8 Vantage.
Doug Demuro once owned a V8 Vantage, too. And he did genuinely drive his on a daily basis. He reports that, compared to his Ferrari 360, the Aston Martin had a noticeably bigger trunk and less of a propensity to bottom out on rough roads.
Demuro even took his Aston Martin V8 Vantage on an extended cross-continental road trip of the US. And across 6,522 miles, the only issue he ran into was a cracked windshield.
Goy’s Vantage has been similarly trouble-free. He drove it 10,000 miles in one year and has never had a fault. DeSantis, too, hasn’t had any electrical or mechanical faults.
That’s not to say the Aston Martin V8 Vantage is perfect. However, in terms of deal-breaking problems, it’s actually fairly robust.
Issues and running costs
Very early models, What Car reports, were recalled due to engine-starting issues. Supercar Pro also reports that some early cars let water into their rear lighting clusters. Also, as with many semi-automatic supercars, the paddle-shifted Vantages can be jerky in traffic. However, the solution is to get a manual one—or get a manual conversion.
A bigger issue is maintenance costs. That’s DeSantis’ biggest problem with her V8 Vantage. Changing the clutch, for instance, requires dropping the transmission, and is a roughly $3000 job. And Demuro had to replace his Vantage’s thermostat, door strut assembly, and fix its engine timing. If he hadn’t had an extended warranty, that would’ve cost about $5,600.
However, Demuro pointed out that his V8 Vantage had been sitting idle for several months before he bought it. Even a Countach can be reliable if driven regularly, Jalopnik reports. In addition, apart from the clutch—which is a fairly-infrequent maintenance item—Demuro’s biggest expenditure was a $1,445 brake pad service. But he only paid that much because the warranty required him to go to an Aston Martin dealer.
DeSantis tells me it’s possible to do oil changes and similar maintenance items on your own. Apart from the clutch, 6 Speed Online reports it’s not unusual to see annual maintenance costs below $2000. Which, according to Money.com, is actually lower than many other luxury brands.
Plus, as Exotic Car Hacks explains, Aston Martin created the V8 Vantage when it was owned by Ford. As a result, it actually shares some components with other Ford and Volvo products of the time. In fact, in an interview with TST, noted mechanic, crew chief, and writer Bozi Taterevic (spicy language warning—video below), notes that the Aston Martin Vanquish’s $2700 fuel pump is exactly the same as a $190 Ford Super-Duty fuel pump.
Originally, an Aston Martin V8 Vantage would set you back at least $120,000. Now, though, you can have one for significantly less.
Bring a Trailer reports V8 Vantages regularly sell for $30,000-$50,000. As of this writing, there’s a 2006 manual example listed at $15,500. And though the later, more-powerful 2007-2012 models are recommended, they don’t command a premium.
A genuinely usable British supercar for the price of a new BMW 3-Series? Sign me up.
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