It is argued that the Aston Martin V8 Vantage was ‘Britain’s first supercar,’ owing to its 170mph top speed. There aren’t many people who would argue, as the performance of the Aston put it in league with the Ferrari Daytona and Lamborghini Miura, and would be Aston Martins flagship car for many years to come.
In the days when most supercars weighed no more than 1500kg, the big Aston came in at over 1800kg. This made its performance all the more impressive, and the reason it had this performance was thanks to its 5.3L V8 that produced 375bhp. The engine itself had larger carburetters, bigger inlet valves and an improved exhaust system over the standard V8.
As well as the performance, the Aston had to be a genuine luxury 4 seater, something the earlier Aston Martins such as the DB5 and DB6 hadn’t really achieved. In 1963 the new aluminium V8 engine started its development, and the company switched to a new internal designer, William Towns. The car would also require a wider chassis, essentially taken from a widened DB6 and all new bodywork.
Aston Martin went though a number of changes and financial problems. Whilst they managed to develop the car, the engine progressed slower, so a predecessor to the V8 Vantage, the DBS was introduced. Whilst it was a hit due to its styling and comfort, it still only had a 6 cylinder 4L engine, and so was slower.
Eventually the V8 finally hit the market in 1977 and was everything it promised to be. The production of the Vantage went on for another 12 years with steady refinements and performance upgrades. By 1986 there was a 432bhp ‘X-pack’ version and a 6.3L 450bhp version available. The performance of the Vantage mixed with its looks, beautiful yet somewhat brutish means it has gone down as one of best supercars, and certainly one of the best large tourers of all time.