∙Powerful and luxurious grand-tourer ∙Huge history file ∙Only 4 owners and 98k miles ∙Desirable colour combination
The Aston Martin V8 represents an interesting point in the company’s history. Naturally the generic nature of the name can cause a little confusion, being applicable to so many slightly different models across a span of decades, but essentially the car you’re seeing here is the genesis of the concept. With Aston Martin seeking to replace the DB6 with something larger and more luxurious with more of a modern aesthetic, the idea was to upgrade the running gear to feature a brawny V8. However, with the engine not ready in time, the DBS model of 1967 was initially powered by the outgoing DB6’s straight-six; two years later the engineering team had caught up with the designers and the DBS V8 arrived to market, and in 1972 the DBS name was dropped and the front end redesigned to the look you see on this blue example today. The so-called ‘Series 3’ of the Aston Martin V8 launched in 1973, its tall bonnet bulge necessary to accommodate a quartet of twin-choke Weber carbs, and with over 300bhp the performance was muscular. 60mph arrives in around six seconds – although this is a GT rather than an out-and-out sports car, and the sumptuous interior appointments reflect this. A rumbling motor attached to a gentlemen’s club; a bouncer in a Savile Row suit. It’s a beguiling classic with a big heart.
There’s an inherent class and panache that goes with owning a classic Aston Martin – these are not machines bought cynically as runarounds or throwaway frivolities, these are bespoke creations carefully hand-picked by connoisseurs. So the stories behind such a car are always rich and vibrant, and that is the case with this one; combing through the history file we find handwritten letters between former keepers, paper-trail evidence of how the VAP 69 plate was liberated from a tractor in 1983, an obsessive approach to collecting and organising certificates and documents. It’s also a car that’s received a great deal of care and attention from specialists, all of which is recorded literally and photographically. Much like a Swiss watch or an old army medal, buying this car won’t simply be a case of taking ownership: you’ll be joining a venerable and select list of curators (there have only been four before), charged with the responsibility of enjoying this Newport Pagnell masterpiece in the manner in which it deserves.
The history file accompanying this car is truly remarkable. The V5 confirms this as a 1978 car, with the VIN and engine number matching those stamped in the engine bay, and the cherished transfer documentation shows that the VAP 69 plate has been with the Aston since 1983 and as such is an intrinsic part of its character. The original manuals and service books are present. Organised in extraordinary fashion we find every old MOT certificate and tax disc arranged chronologically, along with a number of printed photographs documenting work that’s been carried out on the car. There’s a huge quantity of receipts and invoices from across the decades, meticulously recording everything that’s been done. V8 aficionados will be aware of how important it is to address any corrosion in the sills in these cars, and we can see that this was dealt with in 2016 at a cost of over £3,600. We also find evidence of extensive works in 2009, including a new steering rack, radiator, water pump, fuel pump, bushes and much more, totalling over £6,300. More recently, in 2017 the carbs were stripped, fuel pump replaced and alternator overhauled at a cost of £3,100. This car has had a lot of money spent in all the important places, and it’s all carefully documented in this huge file.
The quality hand-built nature of this car is evident throughout; it reportedly took a full 1,200 man-hours to craft each example of the AM V8, and it shows. The original Magnolia leather is still in superb condition, testament to the car’s gentle mileage over the years, and the details throughout the cabin speak of a vehicle built for high-roller lifestyles. There’s a document pocket on the side of the transmission tunnel to store the boarding passes for your pan-European jaunts; flipping open the glovebox you’ll find a hinged vanity mirror for perfecting your mascara along with a map light for finding those obscure auberges after dark; the carpets are deep and the original 8-track is in place for those old-school road trip tunes. The headlining is in good condition with no sagging, the dash is solid and uncracked, and all of the gauges are working. The steering wheel has a gentle patina to it without being excessively worn, and the surprisingly large boot features the correct spare wheel and original toolkit.
The light metallic blue paint works so beautifully on this car, toning down the muscular profile to provide more of a feel of panache and boulevardier chic. The paintwork is outstanding too, we found no chips, scratches or scuffs, and there’s also no evidence of corrosion bubbling beneath it. The panel fit is uniformly good throughout the car, with the doors hanging correctly and the boot and bonnet sitting straight. All of the light lenses are in good order and functional, and the window glass is sound and surrounded by chrome trim which isn’t corroded or pitted. The wheels look fabulous finished in white, and are all in great and unkerbed condition, wearing appropriately high-profile BFGoodrich tyres. And most importantly, the wing badges inform every passer-by that there’s a V8 underneath all that bonnet acreage – just in case they couldn’t tell from all the malevolent rumbling.
The inherent duality is key to this car’s character; yes, it’s an opulent and cosseting grand tourer, but it never lets you forget that it’s packing a muscular V8. The way it gently rocks from side to side at idle helps you to feel at one with the mighty performance on offer, and yet the smoothness of the transmission and comfort of the ride means that it doesn’t feel like a muscle car… it feels like a Monte Carlo cruiser that’s just a little bit naughtier than the equivalent contemporary Jaguar or Mercedes. The engine is happy to fire up, and with a little choke the quad carbs aren’t too troubled by cold starts in sub-zero temperatures; once it’s warmed up it idles happily and pulls strongly through the gears, the auto ’box shifting cleanly. All is well with the brakes and the steering, and the car rides extremely well; aside from a little knocking from the rear which would be easily rectified by some new bushes, the suspension does an excellent job of bolstering the Aston’s grand-tourer credentials. A lovely thing to drive, combining power and luxury in fine style.
The cult of classic Aston Martins stretches way further than the usual lazy James Bond cliches – these are machines that speak volumes about the owners’ prowess as connoisseurs, and these 1970s V8 models are particularly interesting. Late enough to sidestep the more obvious DB choices, and yet early enough to represent the beginnings of a model line that stretched right up to the late-1980s, cars like this one aren’t just curiosities, they’re vital historical landmarks. And this particular one sure has some tales to tell: it may have covered fewer than 100k miles in its life, but you just know that its four former keepers have enjoyed it in the correct style of flair, vivacity and panache (and perhaps even a little international espionage? Who knows, they’ll never tell). This Aston is beautifully presented, fabulously usable, mechanically robust and offers all the feel-good splendour you could wish for. And as we languish under repeated lockdowns and wonder dreamily about the future, doesn’t this car just perfectly embody the concepts of hope and adventure?
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