V8 Vantage (bolt-on & flip-tail)
V8 Vantage (bolt-on & flip-tail)

V8 Vantage (bolt-on & flip-tail)

(1977 - 1978)

Formally known by the AMOC Register as the Series 1 

On the 18th February 1977, Aston Martin unveiled the first iteration of the legendary V8 Vantage. The 170 mph projectile not only shot to fame as the fastest production road car in the world but is also universally accepted as Aston Martin's and indeed Britain's first ever 'Supercar'. Despite having conventional front engine / rear drive layout and even 4 seats, contemporary road tests claimed that the 'old school' Vantage offered superior performance to such greats as the Lamborghini Countach, the Ferrari 512BB and even the Porsche 911 Turbo.

V8 Vantage (bolt-on & flip-tail)

The name ‘Vantage’ had previously been applied to cars with an optional uprated engine beginning with the DB2. There have also been occasional discrete models called Vantage such as the DB4 Vantage and AM Vantage. But the V8 Vantage became a distinct model line in it’s own right and was a significant upgrade of the standard V8 saloon

Principle to the huge performance leap of the Vantage was a significant upgrade to the V8 engine which in the contemporary AM V8 was struggling to achieve 300 bhp. The carburettors were changed to the larger 48 IDF Weber which were fitted to revised inlet manifolds. Together with  larger valves, revised exhaust manifolds, revised camshafts and a higher compression ratio, once run-in, the engines were capable of giving 375 to 380 bhp although at the time, the power output was described by AML as ‘adequate’. The chassis was also stiffened with adjustable Koni dampers, shortened springs and a larger front anti-roll bar. Wider 255/60 VR15 Pirelli CN12 tyres were fitted together with spacers to widen the track.

External modifications were aerodynamic in nature. The V8 Vantage was easily distinguished for the standard AM V8  by the front air dam, twin Cibie H4 driving lights within the blanked off grille (cooling air for the radiator being drawn in from beneath the bumper) and a boot lid spoiler at the rear. All of these aerodynamic additions were essential to reduce lift and also drag. Another feature was the use of a sealed bonnet bulge to cover a larger airbox above the down draught carburettors.


The first group of 16 cars have two distinctive and unique features. Firstly, the rear spoiler was added to the car after the body was built. Also, the bonnet bulge opening is sealed with a separate bolt on cover. Sometimes these very early cars are called the ‘Bolt-on’ Vantage. For the remaining 23 V540 Vantage production cars, the spoiler was made integral to the body and the opening in the bonnet bulge was welded shut during manufacture. These later cars are known as ‘flip tail’.

The Oscar India V8 Vantage, offered from October 1978, shared the less pronounced integral spoiler and neater bonnet of the AMV8 Oscar India saloon.

The important car on the left was in fact the second production V8 Vantage, the first sold to a customer (Gordon Procter) and the first ever to be raced in anger at an AMOC race meeting in 1977. Over time, it has lost many of the original features of the early cars. When first built, the car had Perspex covers over the headlights, smaller 5 inch driving lights and bonnet with bolted in cover. The car now runs on non-standard 16 inch Gotti wheels in place of the 15 inch GKN‘s, probably to enable the use of wider, low profile tyres. It’s featured prominently one this page for two very good reasons. Firstly, it was the first Aston Martin I ever drove, but more important than that, is that it’s first owner and subsequent owner became firm friends of mine who I have been truly fortunate to meet through the Aston Martin Owners Club.

640AML being driven by Rikki Cann

An early production V8 Vantage from 1977, one of only four built with the smaller 5 inch driving lights

The term ‘series 1’ is a classification from the AMOC register, strictly speaking, these first examples of the V8 Vantage should be called ‘V540’ as used by the factory – 540 comes from the prefix to the engine number.

The V8 Vantage pages have been written with the kind assistance of Kean Rogers of the Kangaroo Stable. For more detained information, please visit www.v8vantage.com

  • Body/Coachwork:
    • 2 door 2+2 coupe
    • Steel platform chassis with handcrafted aluminium alloy body panels
    • Dual 7” quartz-halogen headlamps with additional Cibie 6” or 7” driving lights in blanked off grille
    • Front airdam and seporate ‘fliptail’ added, later made fully integral.
    • Bonnet scoop plugged, later sealed
  • Interior:
    • Connolly leather interior, black vynil on the dash and top roll
    • Coolair air-conditioning system
    • Bucket seats with tilting squabs to allow access to the rear seats
  • Engine:
    • Front mounted all-alloy 90° V8, 5,340 cc, two-valves-per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts per bank.
    • Engine number prefix V540/, suffix /V
    • Bore 100 mm. Stroke 85 mm. Compression ratio 9.25 : 1
    • Four Weber 48 IDF 3/150 downdraught carburettors
    • Fuel supplied by SU AUF 412 electric pump
    • Maximum power: not quoted at the time but now believed to be 375 bhp @ 5,800rpm
    • Maximum torque: not quoted at the time but now believed to be 380 lb.ft @ 4,000 rpm
    • Air Injection System: AC Delco air pump
    • Ignition System: Lucas ‘OPUS’ Mk 2 electronic. 12 volt coil and engine driven Lucas 35D8 distributor.
  • Transmission:
    • Manual: 5 speed ZF. Hydraulically operated 10½” Borg and Beck single dry-plate diaphragm clutch.
    • No official automatic option
    • Final drive: Salisbury hypoid bevel with Powr-Lok limited slip differential. Final drive ratio: 3.54 : 1
  • Steering:
    • Power assisted Adwest rack and pinion 2.9 turns lock to lock.
    • Turning circle 11.58 metres
  • Wheels and tyres:
    • Bolt-on, 5 stud, GKN Kent 15 x 7 ” light alloy wheels
    • Pirelli CN12 255/60 VR15
  • Suspension:
    • Front: Independent. Unequal transverse wishbones, coil springs and co-axial uprated telescopic Koni shock absorbers with an anti-roll bar
    • Rear: De Dion axle tube located by parallel trailing links and a Watts linkage. Coil springs and double-acting uprated Koni telescopic dampers
  • Brakes:
    • Front: Girling, ventilated discs; 1.25” thick, 11.5″ diameter
    • Rear: Girling, inboard ventilated steel discs, 10.8” diameter
    • Tandem master cylinders and dual vacuum servo assistance
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 4,667 mm
    • Width: 1,829 mm
    • Height: 1,327 mm
    • Kerb Weight: 1,727 kg
    • Wheelbase: 2,610 mm
    • Front track: 1,499 mm
    • Rear track: 1,520 mm
    • Fuel tank capacity: 113.6 litres
  • Performance:
    • Acceleration: 0-60 m.p.h 5.4 seconds
    • Maximum speed: claimed 170 mph
  • Price at launch:
    • May 1977: £20,000
    • October 1977: £23,000