My Beautiful V8 Vantage, Part 1.

By Mark Garnham / 1st January 2021

Some people dream to own certain cars, these could be from emotional connection through friends or family as they were growing up and others from experiences that they have had in later years or simply where there taste and thoughts have developed with age.

For me, I only really wanted one car, that was a BMW E36 M3 Coupe and I was lucky to achieve this at the age of 24, however it turned out it was far from the car I thought was perfect for me. Owning the car itself didn’t fulfil the experience I had dreamt it to be.

I decided to part with that car and move on, this time to an E46 M3 convertible. This was the vehicle I believed the E36 should have been, very different cars but the E46 felt perfect and I kept it for five years. The reason for parting with it was due to my engagement with another car, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

Frosted Aston Martin Badge

Never a car I had considered previously, always thinking the brand was out of reach financially. However, in 2015 my friend Julie purchased a Toro Red one and allowed me to drive it. Instantly I was hooked! The road presence, the noise, everything about this car I enjoyed. That particular vehicle is now in possession of a new custodian in my very close friend Simon and it holds a strong bond with him and his wife, the reasons to why can be seen in his video 'Why this is the best car I will ever own'

Fast forward to May 2019 and the second Vint-tro Road trip was coming up which I would be completing with Simon and we would be using the Toro Red V8 Vantage within his collection of cars. A fun-filled weekend adventure taking in France and Belgium was ahead of us, best of all I was insured to drive the car for some of the journey! This weekend taught me one thing, I needed an Aston Martin!!! I fell in love with the car once again and my mind was made up, when we got back from the trip I was going to sell my E46 M3 and start to look for a V8 Vantage.

With my mind made up and always having had an interest in my M3 from friends it easily found a new home and the hunt was on. I scoured the internet to research information that I should be aware of when buying one of these vehicles. Like any car, the perfect car even (if there is one) when searching the internet you can be completely put off by horror stories and don’t buy this if, check this and wouldn’t go near it if.. There is all sorts circling however when you start reviewing forums by those who own the car there it boils down to only a few things to be wary of.

In the case of the V8 Vantage the door handles often corrode causing paint flake, the mirror stalks do the same and there is the clutch. The clutch is considered a weak point, especially when reversing up hills, any V8 Vantage owner will tell you this is a big no and will result in you needing oxygen to replenish your lungs from the burning smell. Other than that and some smaller items the 4.3 V8 is pretty bullet proof.

I’ve always been a believer you should go anywhere for the right car, additionally, I am also aware pictures tell lies. As mentioned earlier I was lucky to have Simon’s car and another friend Jonathans to view and drive at any point to get a feel for the car's usual behaviour and noises so my search began.

I decided to view two vehicles immediately, the first was in Bristol, a long way from my home of Suffolk. The second was in Redditch. Being keen I arranged to see them both on the same day. I left home at 4 am and got to Bristol for just before 9. This car was a Toro Red with Tan leather. The images looked amazing online and was a private seller.

On arrival it was clear this vehicle had seen better days, the tan leather was scuffed in multiple places, lacquer was peeling on most of the body panels, and all the brakes required new as did the tyres. The car had never had love. I took it for a test drive and worked out some costs in my mind. Realistically this car would require around six thousand pounds in it using my contacts in the repair and parts sectors to make it right. This was too much for me, the owner was in fact a home dealer and had no room to move on price, I also had to consider whether I wanted to do all this work. My head ruled as it should in these situations and I left without making an offer.

The long trip, early start and eagerness to be in Vantage ownership looked doomed at this moment. Back in the car I was deflated and disappointed. I entered the address for the second car I was going to view and had just over an hour and a half of driving with the Bristol car weighing heavily on my mind.

Arriving in Redditch, I called the owner who had the vehicle at his business address, by this point it was a lovely warm day and the sun was shining. I pulled in to the owners business and outside the main entrance was this immaculate-looking Aston Martin in Onyx Black. It simply looked stunning.

Chatting with the owner Jon, he had only had the car for 12 months and had taken the vehicle in part exchange against a Porsche he owned and was struggling to sell. After a year of little use, he was looking to sell the vehicle to fund a property purchase, it turned out he had built up ownership of many industrial units and only one remained on the site and the owner wanted out, for this reason, Jon needed cash quickly to ensure he could purchase this unit and own the entire estate. A lovely guy who was very accommodating to me and I proceeded to view the vehicle.

It had a replacement twin plate clutch in it, the paintwork had been immaculately detailed and the black leather with silver stitching was in brilliant condition. The wheels had been recently refurbished and the tyres were in good health. The vehicle also came with a tracker, an Aston Martin trickle charger and a parrot Bluetooth kit. There was full service history from the dealerships and Jon had it booked in for an oil service and MOT in the coming days.

the dealerships and Jon had it booked in for an oil service and MOT in the coming days.

I fell in love with the car, I think when you know, you know… After a test drive and a look through the car's history it was clear to see it had been well looked after. Something else that attracted me to this vehicle was it is an early car.

Registered in January 2006 and number 619 off the production line it had the early seats, no steering wheel controls and halogen headlamps. Oh not forgetting it qualifies for the cheaper road tax!!

Whilst I wasn’t buying the vehicle as an investment but am aware most early vehicles irrelevant of manufacturer have subtle differences that generally become the reason they are more sought after much further down the years. All of the features in this car I found attractive.

Knowing this was the car for me, I was able to negotiate with Jon a better price due to his predicament and I left a deposit with a commitment to collect the vehicle the following weekend allowing him to have the service, new battery and MOT completed. For the MOT the vehicle needed a front coil spring as the current one had a crack in it, While this didn’t affect the driving of the vehicle it was a safety issue and MOT requirement. In all honesty you wouldn’t have known on the test drive and this also gave me some further reassurance with Jon being a seller I wanted to deal with.

Some days went by with me in dreamland that the coming weekend I would be picking up my new car. Jon had called me in the week to state the spring was ordered and he hoped it would be in to the dealer on Saturday, the day I was collecting so it would be a tight timeframe.

Collection Day: That Saturday morning I had quite a trip to get to the vehicle, initially a train from Suffolk to London, tube across the capital another train from West London to Reading and then my final train of the day Reading to Redditch. It was going to take some time, I wasn’t expecting to arrive with Jon until 4pm that day and whilst making my journey I wouldn’t know if the coil spring had arrived in to the dealer. Jon was in constant communication with me as I made my way to him.

In the last couple of hours of my trip I got the news I was waiting for, the coil spring had arrived, Jon had collected it and taken the part to the specialist who had already serviced it and fitted the new battery. The coil spring was now fitted and a 12 month MOT added to the car. Jon met me at the station in his other vehicle, taking me back to his business address where the vehicle was waiting. I’d already left a deposit and now was time to pay the remaining balance. Unfortunately, as I learned on this day the Barclays app only allows you to transfer £5k in one go, there is also the chance if done multiple times it will hold one or more for the security team to investigate which will take hours. I proceeded to call the banking team who advised their limit was £10k and advised me it would be much easier for me to go into the nearest branch.

Jon was happy to drive me in to a large shopping centre within Redditch, parking underground and making our way to the bank inside felt like forever when all I wanted to do was get in the car and drive.

Upon arrival to the bank, I was subject to a multitude of questions by the bank manager, such as whether I was under threat to make this payment, why was I making it and I was I doing so when I was far from home. I was then asked to complete a signature test to compare against my account, this didn’t go to plan as the last time Barclays required this I was 16 years old!! Anyway… A further hour and a half later I had successfully made the payment to Jon and as he also banked in the same branch he was able to have the manager confirm the amount had been transferred.

Returning to the car park exhausted by the bank fiasco we pulled out of the car park and it was now pouring down with rain. It couldn’t have rained more if it tried. Arriving back to Jon’s address, the Aston Martin still looked elegant even being pelted by rainfall. We ran inside and carried out the paperwork, I had already insured the vehicle on the train up to Redditch so last thing was to tax the vehicle. I had also agreed with Jon I would take the car still on his private plate which when the log book arrived I would remove and send back to him.

At last, the moment had come, I ran from Jon’s office through the pouring rain and jumped in the car for the long trip home. The car was everything I dreamt it would be, granted the weather could have been nicer but I didn’t care. With a beaming smile on my face, I was on cloud nine.

I arrived home some three and a half hours later, the car filthy I drove it on to the garage floor and stored it away until I’d get my opportunity to clean it another day.

For now I was tired, delighted and above all an Aston Martin owner….

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