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For many, the sight and sound of this car will be enough to fire a desire that overwhelms objective considerations – Autocar, 2005
Quite. We at Berlinetta would have to hold our hands up and admit that we fall firmly into the category above. Quite simply, those looks, that interior, 380 bhp at 7,300 rpm, 0-60 in 4.8, a top speed of 175 mph, 51/49 weight distribution and a price tag today of less than £30k… In all honesty, spending literally ten times that amount on a (considerably slower and more fragile) Dino seems, on paper at least, like utter madness.
For those not aware of the backstory, 2005 saw Aston Martin introduce what was essentially it’s most accessible, capable and desirable car for a very long time indeed. Designed by the legendary Henrik Fisker, the V8 followed on from the (rather more pricey) Vanquish and DB9 to become the third model to make use of Aston’s brilliant VH platform – a chassis of lightweight bonded and riveted aluminium which contributed just 183kg to the Aston’s 1590kg kerb weight. It’s a low, purposeful creation with proportions clearly designed to create what you might describe as an ‘aggressive’ aura. Clothed in a mix of aluminium, steel, composite and magnesium body panels (displaying either a forensic attitude to weight saving or a bout of chronic indecision, we’re not sure which), it’s 50mm shorter and 40mm lower than a Porsche 911 Carrera S and far more compact than the contemporary 2+2 DB9.
Under that gorgeous skin, forged aluminium double wishbones are hung from the featherweight chassis, wherein also nestles the 4.3 litre quad-cam 32 valve V8 – positioned up front (of course, we are British after all) - although the six-speed manual gearbox is packaged at the rear in order to help achieve that nigh on perfect weight distribution.
Fire it up and it’s clear that this isn’t the tightly regulated, slightly synthetic V8 sound of a German performance car. On the contrary, moving away is accompanied by a delicious, industrial gurgle that focuses the mind (directly via the ears) without being crude or unsophisticated. The Vantage is clearly a car that you have to actually drive - the gear-lever (thank goodness – no chance of being stuck up a certain creek with a paddle here) moves with a sturdy mechanical feel, the brakes require confident application and the steering has a weighted, oiled feel. The above said, it remains brilliantly useable and is completely at home tottering off to Waitrose where the weekly rose rations can be stowed in the eminently practical 350 litre boot space.
Although not quite as quick off the mark as the 911 Carrera S that is so clearly its main rival, any potential buyer should just ask themselves how they’d feel waking up to see an Aston on the drive. Clarkson and Co. may not be everyone’s cup of Earl Grey, but they did vote the V8 both their ‘coolest’ and ‘best sounding’ car of 2005 – and that year contained plenty of other drives in the latest offerings from Ferrari, Lamborghini and the rest.
By mid 2008 Aston had made 10,000 V8s (no mean feat for them) so there are plenty of examples out there to choose from. However, if you’re looking for one of the very best in the UK, and also something perhaps in a slightly more interesting hue than the ubiquitous grey or black, then you can call off the hunt - because this is it.
Registered on the 20th September 2006, this V8 Vantage is a 2007 model year example which has only changed hands four times in the last 13 odd years whilst at the same time covering just 38,400 miles. Today, rejoicing in absolutely flawless Toro Red metallic paintwork and a similarly gorgeous Obsidian leather interior, we’re almost in danger of mis-describing the car when we call it ‘second hand’.
A detailed inspection revealed no cosmetic blemishes to paintwork or glasswear, the current owner (who’s an ex-aeronautical engineer - not a bunch well known for cutting corners or accepting second best) has just had the front bumper off the car to attend to a few tiny stone chips, the interior has recently been re-Connollised and a full geometry check was also carried out at the car’s most recent service with Harwoods in Chichester.
The only faults we could find in the entire car were a slight scuff mark to the driver’s seat side bolster and a small tear in the door sealing rubber – both detailed in our photo gallery and both very easily remedied.
A full Main Dealer service history is of course essential with a junior supercar such as this, and GX56 ETO has exactly that with all stamps (including corrosion inspections) present and correct, the car having been cared for either at Harwoods or HMW Aston in Walton-on-Thames for its entire life. The current MOT test certificate is valid until October with only a couple of worn tyres as advisories (all four have now been replaced) and the service record breaks down as follows:
1018 - 19/02/07
1690 - 24/09/07
3303 - 29/10/08
4145 - 22/09/09
7299 - 29/09/10
10253 - 20/09/11
12628 - 11/09/12
18186 - 18/09/13
24003 - 01/10/14
27726 - 02/10/15
32571 - 04/10/16
38202 - 11/10/19
As you would expect therefore, this Aston drives perfectly and any new owner can look forward to enjoying a very slick example of the six-speed manual gear box whilst also revelling in the opportunity to enhance its utterly wonderful V8 soundtrack at will via the remote operation of the exhaust flaps - an option costing a not inconsiderable £1,725 at the time, although the smiles that come with it are free. Alongside the aforementioned brand new set of Bridgestones, the Aston will also be accompanied by a full set of handbooks/owner’s manuals and a comprehensive file of service invoices, a selection of which are featured in our photo gallery.
GX56 ETO further benefits from a host of factory extras including: battery conditioner, blue tooth, grey calipers, cruise control, electric heated seats and windscreen, Satnav and 19inch 7 spoke wheels alongside all the other luxury equipment you would expect from such a high-end machine.
If your finger has been hovering over the Aston ‘start’ button for a while but you’ve found yourself paralysed by choice, this represents an opportunity to buy in complete confidence, knowing that you are investing in one of the very best early V8 Vantages that money can buy today.