Sales of thirsty GT’s were badly hit with the mid 70’s fuel crisis and the new owners of AML, Company Developments also suffered financial problems. William Wilson put the company into administration in late in 1974. Aston Martin Lagonda, the company that had virtually never posted a profit, almost disappeared. But, thankfully, a multinational consortium of enthusiastic businessmen took over in 1975 and full production began again.
The first new car from the new owners was the spectacular Lagonda. The Aston Martin Lagonda was way ahead of it’s time – a classic 70’s wedge; you either love it or hate it (and I unashamedly adore the Lagonda). This was quickly followed by the high performance V8 Vantage – at the time, the fastest car in the world and the first British Supercar. Such a huge and heavy car, the Vantage came with four seats and the ability to take on and beat the Lamborghini Countach and Ferrari 512BB hands down. The range was completed in 1978 with the elegant V8 Volante and after a gap of eight years, AML could again tempt customers in the lucrative US market with a stylish convertible. By the mid 1980’s the combination of the Vantage engine and open bodywork gave Aston Martin the fastest open four seater the world had ever seen, the V8 Vantage Volante.
In 1980, AML demonstrated their engineering skills with the unveiling of the fantastic gull-winged Bulldog. Only one 200mph machine was constructed, and it remains the only mid-engined road car Aston Martin have ever built.
Whilst the V8’s were constantly upgraded, they were starting to look dated by the early 1980’s. The replacement for the V8 was still some way off, so the old association with Zagato was renewed in 1985. The limited edition V8 Vantage Zagato and Zagato Volante were a sales success; the cash earned was used to fund the development of the Virage – the car that eventually replaced the AM V8. Despite the great age of the design, constant development kept the V8 going until 1989. Performance of the X-pack V8 Vantage in particular was equal to many other late 80’s supercars and demand remained strong in the buoyant market for Astons and other prestigious classic cars.
The chrome bumper V8’s are a popular first choice as a Classic Aston Martin; they were until the introduction of the DB7, the most popular cars within the Aston Martin Owners Club. It used to be said that a decent AM V8 can cost the same as a brand new performance saloon but with impeccable breeding and supercar performance thrown in. But as with many classic cars, prices have hardened and you will have to dig deeply for a well sorted example. Running costs are potentially a problem, especially as petrol is getting very expensive right now and they are thirsty for the stuff (12 mpg!), but this is easily outweighed by zero depreciation and inexpensive classic insurance. If your purse is big enough, go for the performance icon that is the V8 Vantage and live happily ever after. By todays standards, they were built in tiny numbers