In Aston Martin’s present range, the Vantage nameplate is designated to its smaller car, a rival to the Porsche 911 and other V8 powered supercars. Interestingly, this is a recent development in the company’s model hierarchy. The Vantage name in the 50s, 60s and 70s was used to denote the highest-powered versions of their flagship DB – series cars.
This is what makes the car seen here especially unique. The DBS was launched in 1967 as a replacement for the then flagship, the DB6. It was the last car to be launched under founder David Brown’s control and featured gorgeous styling, right up there with the Italian greats from the time. The bigger DBS was originally intended to come fitted with the Tadek Marek V8, but was launched with the 4.0 litre six from the DB6. When the V8 was eventually made available from 1972 onwards, the six cylinder was not killed off. Instead, it was renamed the Vantage and was sold alongside the DBS, now simply called the Aston Martin V8.
As confusing as this naming system was, it meant that the Aston Martin Vantage produced between ’72 and ’73 was one of the rarest post-war Astons ever. Only 70 were built in this time and these have become more desirable than their V8 counterparts, given that these were the last of the twin-cam straight six powered Astons.
The straight six produced 282 bhp and 280 lb/ft of torque. Top speed was good for 152 mph and power was put down via a dog-leg 5 speed ZF manual. Although, the car seen here and available for auction at Bonham’s Bond Street sale has been retrofitted with a Tremec T5 manual. The Bill Towns designed four seater GT body sat on a platform type chassis with independent suspension all around. It came with all the classically Aston design cues – such as a bonnet scoop, wire wheels(last Aston Martin to be fitted with these), and side air vents with stainless steel brightwork. It also introduced newer design elements like a fastback style rear end and squared off front grille, unseen on an Aston before.
The Aston Martin Vantage was an important car for the company because it came at a time of change. Its Italian and German competitors were going from strength to strength, while the British car industry was generally in decline. This car, with its right mix of looks and speed showed that traditional English GTs were still relevant and right up there with the competition. Photos via Bonhams