V12-engined Astons are very much the cars of the moment, as Nick Mee told Vantage magazine’s Peter Tomalin
There’s nothing quite like a large-capacity, naturally aspirated engine – and they come no finer than Aston Martin’s magnificent 5.9-litre V12. With new cars increasingly moving towards hybrid power and downsized engines, V12 Astons are increasingly being recognised as the very special machines they undoubtedly are.
Independent Aston specialist Nick Mee has been observing the recent trend: ‘We’ve noticed that people are putting together collections of new-era cars, and the V12s are a big part of that, especially the limited editions,’ he told Vantage.
‘There is also a growing appreciation of the V12 as Aston Martin moves towards smaller engines and hybrids.
‘They’re what you might call pre-digital cars, but still very useable, easy to drive, flexible and powerful. And in some models – V12 Vantages come to mind – extremely exciting!’
Is there any lingering sniffiness towards what started life as a Ford engine? ‘Not really,’ says Nick. ‘I mean, you could say a similar thing about a DB2’s straight-six. A bought-in Lagonda engine designed by WO Bentley. The important thing is that the V12 is bespoke and unique to Aston.’
For the cover story of the current issue of Vantage, the magazine brought together five superb examples of the V12 Aston Martin – mk1 Vanquish, V12 Vantage S, Gaydon DBS, mk2 Vanquish and Rapide S.
Good examples of all of these can currently be found for around £70,000, but which way are values currently heading?
Let’s start with the mk1 Vanquish. ‘I’d say they’re currently in limbo,’ says Nick Mee. ‘But they’ve got a lot in their favour: only 1500 built, plus around 1000 Vanquish Ss, and only half of those are right-hand-drive, so the numbers are quite small. It was the last car that came out of Newport Pagnell, still largely hand-assembled. It’s still a flipping good-looking car, the headline car in its day – and a Bond car to boot. So it ticks all the boxes. It’s plateaued for now, but the next move won’t be down.’
You’ll see mk1 Vanquishes for as little as £60k but tread carefully at that level. £70k and upwards is a more realistic entry point (£90k and up for an S).
Mk1 Vanquish is a little more maintenance-heavy than Gaydon-built cars, says Nick, and £60k examples are likely to need money spending on them. ‘They’re also likely to have higher mileage, so even when you’ve spent money on them, they’ve still got the mileage.’ As ever, buy the best you can afford.
Next comes the V12 Vantage and Vantage S. ‘Our favourite cars,’ says Nick, though he and many of his customers prefer the regular V12V with its six-speed manual gearbox to the S, which is predominantly paddle-shift. ‘We’re finding quite a swell of people wanting good quality six-speed cars. OK, an S has 565bhp, but a 510bhp V12 Vantage is as quick as anyone could possibly want for the road.’
Regular V12Vs start at £60k, with the newer Ss from £70k, but expect to pay as much as £80k for a really good six-speed manual, says Nick. Just 100 V12V Roadsters were built, which drives demand, so add up to 10 per cent to these prices for a soft-top.
Gearbox type also has an impact on DBS values, the rarer manual carrying a substantial premium of around 20 per cent over the same car with the Touchtronic auto. ‘Great car,’ says Mee. ‘First time I drove one it reminded me in some ways of a Ferrari Daytona, the way it just pulled and pulled.’
Average Touchtronic-equipped examples can be found from as little as £60k but a really well cared-for manual can easily be as much as £100k. ‘And they’re being bought by people with an eye on the future,’ says Nick. Again, add a 5-10 per cent premium for a convertible.
As DBS values edge up, they’re crossing over with those of the car that replaced it, the second-gen Vanquish, still on a downwards curve, albeit a gentle one. Nice examples can now by had for £75k, but check the specs carefully – some are considerably better equipped than others. The collectable ones, says Nick, are going to be the Vanquish S Ultimate, of which just 99 were built: a low-mileage Ultimate could easily be double the price of a regular Vanquish.
Which brings us finally to the Rapide S. ‘In the collector market, all the money tends to be in coupes and sports cars, not four-doors,’ observes Nick, ‘but the Rapide S is just a cracking car and a great modern Aston.’ Again, good examples start from around £70k.
‘I can’t think of another car I’d rather do a long journey in,’ says Nick. ‘And I know that most people rave about the S with the eight-speed ’box, but I personally prefer the six-speed. Eight speeds was all about noise regs and emissions. Six is more than enough, and in each gear you get a nice long shove to savour!’
So that’s the market view; to find out more about how the cars drive – and how much they’re likely to cost to run – pick up the current issue of Vantage magazine, available at major news outlets and supermarkets, or from magsdirect.co.uk
Photography by Andy Morgan