The early 1970s weren’t the best of times for Aston Martin. The David Brown era had ended when Sir David sold up in 1972, and new owners Company Holdings were, by their own admission, ‘not car people’. As if to confirm their lack of empathy, when the DBS V8 was relaunched under the new regime, it was to be known simply as the Aston Martin V8, the ‘DB’ part having been dropped ‘for marketing reasons’. Doh.
To be fair, boss William Willson and his team kept the factory open at a time when political and economic forces were conspiring against makers of expensive high-performance motor cars. But at the end of 1974 they were finally forced to throw in the towel, the company went into receivership and the factory closed.
There was a real risk it wouldn’t reopen.
It took a consortium, led by American Peter Sprague, to rescue Aston Martin in 1975 and revive the marque’s fortunes, though production woudn’t restart until early 1976, and then only in tiny numbers.
It’s fair to say the quality of these mid-70s Astons was, how to put this, patchy. When Motor tried an AM V8, its testers reported that the bolts retaining the final drive unit became detached, the transistorised ignition amplifier failed, as did the air-conditioning thermostat, swarf was found in a carburettor, and the clutch required attention.
And yet the road testers raved about it! Because, despite everything, the AM V8 was the fastest, most accomplished high-performance luxury GT of its day – and in its various guises would remain in production for a remarkable two decades. As DBS V8 morphed into AM V8, the decision to ditch the tricky-to-service Bosch fuel injection for a quartet of twin-choke Weber carburettors certainly didn’t harm the performance: in fact Motor’s 0-60mph time of 5.7sec for a carb-fed AM V8 was almost half a second quicker than they’d achieved with the injected car, thanks to the new model’s keener initial pick-up and torquier delivery. Even if top speed was 5mph down at 155mph, it was still one of the world’s quickest GT cars.
The Webers, they concluded, gave a ‘worthwhile improvement in low-speed running and tractability. When combined with the Aston’s very high cornering powers, this makes the V8 one of the most satisfying road cars we have driven for some time.’
Which one to buy?
The DBS V8 with its four headlights and Bosch injection ran from 1969 until it was replaced by the AM V8 with its two headlights and plainer grille in April 1972. There was a run of 288 fuel-injected AM V8s while engine stocks were used up (chassis numbers 501-789), but from July 1973 all had Weber carbs, these cars distinguished by a much bigger air-scoop on the bonnet.
Just to muddy the waters, in 1972 Company Developments also introduced an ‘entry level’ version of the new Aston with the old 4-litre in-line six-cylinder engine. Ignoring decades of Aston tradition, they called this lower-powered model, which had wire wheels in place of the V8’s alloys, the ‘Vantage’. Doh.
But back to the V8s, and in 1978 came the ‘Oscar India’ (aviation code for OI or October Introduction) model: still carb-fed, so retaining the big bonnet-scoop, but with a host of detail improvements, subtle body changes including a neat, integrated tail-spoiler and, inside, a more sumptuous feel with lashings of glossy wood veneer on the dash and door cappings.
The final version ran from 1985-1989 and featured Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection, these ‘EFi’s distinguished visually by their BBS wheels and virtually flat bonnets.
There were, of course, souped-up Vantage and rag-top Volante variations on the basic recipe, but the values of those have long since escaped into the stratosphere, so it’s the regular V8 coupé (or ‘saloon’ in Aston parlance) that we’re focusing on here.
Today, compared with the DB4, 5 and 6, the V8 still looks good value. But its stock is rising fast. Aston Martin Works recently sold an admittedly pristine DBS V8 for £175,000, and while the four-headlight car seems to attract a premium, the AM V8 isn’t too far behind, with the very best now commanding £150,000. It is, however, still possible to pick up a perfectly presentable and eminently useable example for £100,000-125,000. The key is finding a car that’s fundamentally sound and that won’t require major work.
This is an article about the model Aston Martin V8
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage was hailed at its 1977 introduction as "Britain's First Supercar" for its 170 mph (270 km/h) top speed. Its engine was shared with the Lagonda, but it used high-performance camshafts, increased compression ratio, larger inlet valves and bigger carburettors mounted on new manifolds for increased output. Straight-line performance was the best of the day, with acceleration...
After producing six cylinder engined cars for around two decades, Aston Martin introduced the DBS V8 late in 1969. Under the DBS' the long bonnet a new V8 engine was installed. Designed by long time Aston Martin engineer, Tadek Marek, the engine had made its public debut in the less than successful Lola T70 Le Mans racer. The advanced engine featured double overhead camshafts and Bosch Fuel Inject...
This is an article about the engine Aston Martin Tadek Marek V8