I bought an Aston Martin Vantage because ‘sod it’
Alex Goy is a freelance motoring journalist who has written for the likes of Motor1, Carfection and CNET.
My friends think I’m a ridiculous enough person as it is. I wear velvet for fun, drive across continents in Morgan Three Wheelers, and actually enjoy drinking absinthe (properly, with a fountain – you don’t shot that stuff). So when I told them I was selling my Lotus Elise to buy an Aston Martin Vantage I thought they’d take it in their stride. “You bellend,” chimed my mate Sean. Fair.
He’s right, of course. In today’s climate if you’re seen driving something nice people are likely to wave at you with a closed hand. Show me someone who’s driven a Ferrari through the middle of London and not been called a tosser and I’ll show you a liar. That said, I like the quirky, the pretty, the downright stupid, and the stylish. I like fast silly things. As I have no dependents I don't need to worry about things like rear seats or practicality too much, so fast silly things kinda work for me too.
When I was a kid I had a ‘car plan’, in much the same was as really driven people in films have a ‘life plan’. Lotus Elise at 25 (check), TVR at 30 (company folded, swapped for Morgan Three Wheeler), Aston at 40, probably be dead before 50 so it doesn’t matter. This seemed achievable if I worked hard. Thing is, I’ve just screwed up my own plan because the Aston’s appeared seven years early. You’ll also notice a theme with that list: they’re all hand built, and British. And likely to break down a lot.
Why? Because after living with an Elise for eight years I needed something with a fixed roof, air con, and a little more suspension squidge in my life. So about six months ago I started idly browsing Auto Trader for ‘an car’.
The shortlist at the start was basically ‘911’. Then ideas crept in. What about a V8 R8? Or an Evora? Or another Morgan? I kept circling back to the 911, because that’s what people buy. The car from Stuttgart is very good at being sporty, can do some practicality, and isn't likely to blow up. It’s been around for over five decades for a reason.
My mind was semi set until Drew Stearne from Carfection said this: “C’mon, man, a motoring journalist buying a 911? That’s a bit cliché isn’t it?” They do know what's right, so it's clearly the most sensible choice. However, as Sean said earlier, I'm a bellend. One day I'll scratch the 911 itch, but not today.
With this in mind, I widened the net and looked for something that wasn’t a neunelfer. Then I had a look at V8 Vantages, and… yeah. That was me done. An R8 would be ace, as would a 911, but nothing would be an Aston, would it? It ticked all the pretty/British/potentially wonky boxes.
So I did some reading, asked advice of people who actually know what they’re on about, and found out a few vital things. 1) The motor should be pretty good. 2) Early 4.3-litre cars are cheaper than you think. 3) They’re cheaper than you think for a reason and you shouldn’t buy one.
I searched for a later 4.7-litre car (the one with the fancy crystal key thing) for not insane money. It had to be either a ludicrous colour, or black. Why black? Because it shows filth better, and mucky sports cars are good things. I don’t subscribe to the whole ‘must keep the car pristine’ thing. After a few test drives, some careful reading, and a bit of luck I found the car you see pictured here. It drives well, is decently specced, and sounds the absolute tits.
My first steer was a fun one – country lanes and a few fast bits. The suspension is smooth and didn’t appear to have a vendetta against my spine, the steering isn’t the sharpest in the world but it appears to make the wheels go left and right, its brakes straight and true. And the noise it makes is… well it’s like listening to the very essence of petrolheadism. Ok, it’s a touch quiet around town but I hear there’s a fuse you can pull to keep the flaps that mute the pipes open all the time. Something to dwell on.
I liked it, put a deposit down, and picked it up. I also borrowed a large sum of money to make it mine, which I’ll be paying off for years. But sod it, right?
There’s a few things to look out for over time, but I’ll cross those likely numerous bridges when I come to them. I look forward to getting to know it. I also look forward to it being a picture of reliability. Ahem.
For now I’m going to be found burbling around the country listening alternately to AC/DC and that V8. When I’m not doing that I’ll be staring at it because HOLY HELL IT’S PRETTY.