Project Vantage featured a new 6.0 litre V12 engine with a claimed output of 450 bhp, initially proposed for installation into the 1993 Lagonda Vignale and Ford Indigo prototypes. In addition, the gear box was an F1 derived paddle shift system – what would become another Aston Martin first. It was built on an aluminium tub and was clothed in composite panels, not aluminium as would have been expected.
Performance estimates were perhaps a little optimistic with a projected 200mph top speed and 60mph coming up in 4 seconds, performance only seen eventually in the V12 Vanquish S of 2003. Penned by the Scot, Ian Callum, the car is strongly influenced by the DB7 (also the work of Callum) and also the DB4GT Zagato. Indeed, when I first saw pictures, I thought that it was the Vantage derivative of the DB7 which actually appeared a year later.
Following display on the concept lawn at Pebble Beach in August 1988, there were only two British public appearances of Project Vantage was during 1998, at the Hurlingham Club and at the AMOC race meeting at Donnington Park during October. At Donington, the car was enclosed within a tight rope cordon, so clear photography was difficult. Fortunately the car was displayed in the AM Works Service Reception during Autumn 2003 in the company of a V12 Vanquish which allows for direct comparison. Remarkably, the Project Vantage was a true glimpse into the future as the V12 Vanquish remained faithful to the concept. It remained the property of the factory and was rarely seen, the exception being the 2014 UK Vanquish day at AM Works, Newport Pagnell.
This very special piece of Aston Martin heritage was finally sold off by AML by Bonham’s auctioneers during the annual Aston Martin Sale at Works, Newport Pagnell in May 2016. The car had deteriorated to an extent during extended storage and was only operable so far as to be able to manoeuvre at low speed. One hopes the new owner will be able to bring the car back to its former glory.