The Aston Martin V8 Vantage Could Be the Exotic DIY Project You’re Looking For
The gorgeous baby Aston is still fast and costs far less than its original price.
During these troubling times filled with disgustingly inflated used car prices, it can truly be hard to find a deal. However, there are still some decent performance options if you know where to look. In addition to certain BMWs that keep the risk-averse away, there’s also one well-renowned and beautiful option from the U.K. worth considering: the mid-to-late 2000s Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
This entry-level Aston debuted in 2005 as one of the best-looking cars that the brand has ever done, in my opinion. It’s small, possesses excellent proportions, has one of the best front-ends ever bolted up to a modern car, and produces a raucous small-displacement V8 growl. They’re not terribly hard to find with three pedals and a stick is the cherry on top.
This generation Vantage lasted all the way until 2017 when it was replaced by the current iteration, but the early model years are where the deals exist.
The Performance Inclination
The V8 Vantage’s specs are quite handsome: 0-60 mph in around 4.8 seconds, a high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 with a dry-sump oiling system for a little extra exotic prowess, and a curb weight of 3,461 pounds. Displacement was bumped from 4.3 liters to 4.7 liters in 2008, which bumped the V8’s output from a claimed 380 to 420 horsepower.
Ray Hutton from Car & Driver had very nice things to say about the V8 Vantage when it debuted in 2005:
“The V-8 Vantage does everything you would expect a proper sports car to do. It is responsive, agile, and stiffly sprung. Well-judged damping keeps body movement in check. Sharp bumps shake up your insides, but on a typically undulating British country lane this Aston keeps its poise and doesn’t run out of suspension travel.
As you set off, the steering feels heavy and reluctant to move away from straight-ahead, but as the speed builds, the weighting becomes just right. Through corners fast and slow the handling is resolutely neutral. The V-8 Vantage is beautifully balanced.
The 380-hp engine is enough to give a thrilling ride, even if it’s outhorsed these days by a number of sedans and upscale sports coupes. Zero to 60 mph should take about 4.8 seconds or a half-second or so longer than a Carrera S’s time. Eighty-five percent of the V-8’s 302 pound-feet of torque is available from 1500 rpm, which makes for easy and smooth acceleration in any gear.”
Hutton mentioned the fact that the V8 Vantage was Aston’s answer to Porsche’s 997 911 Carrera S. When compared to the Porsche, the Aston cost a little less money and had a front-mid-engine placement instead of in the way back like the 911.
The mid-’00s V8 Vantage has dropped in price quite a bit since its debut base price of around $110,000. Nowadays, it seems like $30,000-$40,000 is the sweet spot for a solid runner in overall good condition. Anything going for cheaper either has a lot of mileage or needs some work. Though, as we always say in blogs like this, mileage isn’t always so crucial to consider if it’s been properly maintained.
Maintenance procedures and parts costs don’t seem too rough, either. Regarding the latter, going directly through an Aston Martin dealership would most definitely be financial torture. For example, an OEM alternator costs $725, an OEM clutch and flywheel fetch over $1200, each, and suspension prices are quite scary as well. But luckily the sum of the Vantage’s parts is stuff borrowed from an immense amount of other cars, including older Jaguars, Fords, and even Volvos. Cross-referencing replacement parts for something that’s stamped with FoMoCo (Ford Motor Company) can potentially save you a lot of coin.
This is demonstrated brilliantly in a recent video published by YouTuber Samcrac, who recently bought a beat example at auction for very cheap and is slowly restoring it into something much nicer:
If you’re OK with very-off-brand parts, or even parts that just aren’t genuine, it seems like the overall theme is you’ll save a lot of money. Especially if you’re used to perusing sites like RockAuto.com. Then, for more traditionally pricier bits like a clutch for a European sports car, figuring out the clutch’s dimensions and having a specialty shop custom-make one for you could also save you heaps of cash, like Sam does in the video. Or, there are quality aftermarket clutches that come in at less than half the price of original equipment.
When it comes to general maintenance, the Vantage has its share of weird reliability quirks, but overall they don’t seem too atrocious. Electrical grounding issues, minor electrical gremlins in general, short clutch life, burnt out lighting, air conditioning that gives up the ghost, broken hood and trunk latches, and a few other annoyances are the primary problems that pop up. In general, it doesn’t seem like anything catastrophic, and I’d say it’s all stuff that any DIY wrencher with enough courage and patience could tackle, especially if it’s a weekend or second car.
Then, of course there’s the cost of insuring an Aston. Since these European sports cars are a far cry from a mid-’00s Toyota Corolla, yet not quite up there with Lamborghinis, figure they’ll cost a bit more to insure than average. Quotes and figures are all over the map, and this forum thread, despite being a bit old, sheds some light on the subject. According to Doug Demuro, when he owned his Vantage, insurance was one of the more reasonable costs compared to dealer parts and service costs, and that includes living in a fairly major city at the time. I can only imagine that rates decrease as the car gets older, regardless of its original MSRP.
In these turbulent times of brutally-high-priced used cars, the only refuge in finding a good deal could be shopping for stuff that’s traditionally expensive and scary, like a mid-2000s Aston Martin. But with a little inclination to get your hands dirty, a determination to take one’s time seeking out the best parts prices, and the understanding that there’s nothing particularly exotic about them, at least in terms of which bins the Gaydon, UK brand pulled parts from, there could be an excellent deal out there. Plus, who wouldn’t love driving around in something that looks way more expensive than it actually is?