• A prime example of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the Gaydon Bulldog, is up for sale on Bring a Trailer in an auction that ends March 18.
• Its bite comes from a 4.7L V8 developing 430 horsepower and 346 lbs of torque, and its bark is enough to scare Cerberus away. The six-speed manual gearbox seals the deal, absolving the sins of a deft but unforgiving chassis.
• This Meteor Silver over Chestnut Tan California roadster with only 29,000 miles had a pre-purchase inspection and comes with partial service history and a clean title.
Beauty, hedonism and nostalgia, tinged with masochism, compel me to choose Bring a Trailer of the Day, a 2014 Aston Martin V8 Vantage roadster. The auction site, which, as Car and driver, part of Hearst Autos – accepting offers until Friday, March 18. Over its 16-year lifespan, various versions of the entry-level Vantage compact range have won gold stars or wooden spoons as the best and worst of 21st century Aston Martin. Yet it was never boring, and even worse, like pizza and . . . other things, it’s still pretty good.
Beauty and hedonism go without saying. Look at this car.
As for nostalgia, this job requires repeated jaunts to the most tempting places in the world to measure the best fruits in the industry. Eventually, one becomes numb to luxury, more indifferent to Michelin stars than Michelin tyres, prone to exclamations like “Oh no, not Marbella yet.”
Any work trip that pierces the insane skin is special, and I’ve been on a few. But every trip involving an Aston Martin has been superlative.
I drove a DB9 Sport Pack from England to the French region of Champagne and then to Le Mans to see the automaker put on a successful 24-hour battle to win its class. I took a DBS to the National Motor Museum in England to see the car exhibit from the James Bond film, then was mobbed between hedges by a mule. A friend and I took a Rapide from Munich to St. Moritz for a long weekend over alpine passes.
And before all that, there was my first international press launch, the 2007 V8 Vantage roadster. We bivouacked in a castle perched above a valley in the south of France. I made a boob pal. We were served daily, three times a day, truffle-infused meals washed down with truffle wine. I still avoid truffles 15 years later.
As for the V8 Vantage, it was sent to do an impossible job: to challenge the Porsche 911. It failed, like all such challengers, but the Aston Martin failed sensationally, with an incredible look, a old-fashioned English style and character, dynamic chops. , exclusivity (perhaps to an unintentional extent) and an exhaust whine better than Rogaine to make it a shaggy one.
In 2014, however, development budgets less lavish than products were turning the old school into an anachronism. The infotainment system needed to be euthanized. Mechanical noises, especially those from the SportShift II seven-speed automated manual transmission, occurred day and night. The chassis wasn’t just stiff; he refused to give in. Every long journey ended at an orthopedist.
Hence the masochism, because we would still take this one here. The 4.7-litre, 420-hp V8 is always ready to stir the pot. The proper six-speed manual eliminates the compromises of the SportShift. The roadster would still “gallop around corners with confident handling and play-free controls,” as we said back in 2007. And the convertible brings all ears closer to that chorus of twin-pipe demons.
No OEM offering of the time was as brutal and pampering as the V8 Vantage, and there will never be another quite like it.
Moreover, they will never be cheaper. The bid is $50,100 at the time of writing. Do not be shy.
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