There are exciting years ahead for Aston; the past century has had its highlights, too…
By PH Staff / Friday, May 21, 2021 / Loading comments
Our recent interview with Aston CEO Tobias Moers was nothing if not revealing about Aston Martin’s long-running predicament. There was a lot to be done when he arrived, it seems, and his stated quest to make the brand into a true Ferrari rival will not be achieved overnight.
That said, there are reasons to be encouraged, with work progressing on the mid-engined cars and the crucial DBX having been well received internationally. The hybrid Aston Martin is close, too, and will benefit from Mercedes-AMG input. The manual’s confirmed demise is sad, though far from the biggest surprise in the world. For the first time in a little while, it seems there is good reason for optimism.
But we’re not here to discuss future Aston Martins. Instead, it’s time to celebrate the fantastic secondhand ones out there – and there’s good reason to do that. Popularity with buyers has ensured a steady supply of great looking, great sounding sports cars for not all that much money. And who wouldn’t be intrigued by that combination? Particularly with an aspirational badge on the nose.
Here, then, is a rundown of our best used Astons, from hot hatch money to a lotto win. There are straight sixes, V8s and V12s, manuals and automatics, two-doors, four-doors, coupes and convertibles – Astons of shapes and sizes for almost all budgets. So, without further ado…
Up to £25,000…
It’s hard to imagine Aston Martin without the DB7, simply because the brand surely wouldn’t exist today without it. Like so many other luxury manufacturers in the early nineties, Aston was suffering thanks a global downturn. The Virage had only arrived at the end of the eighties but was pricey, and unlike today the range was far less comprehensive. The ’93 Vantage became a hero car for many but was more expensive again.
So thank goodness for the DB7. Yes, it borrowed a lot from Jaguar and, yes, the straight-six was found lacking by a few, but it was exactly the car Aston needed at the time. It looked stunning (still does, actually), drove well enough and kept Aston afloat through the decade and into the VH era. A very significant car, then.
Obviously everyone wants the V12 Vantage that arrived in 1999, and prices reflect that: the best of those, including the run-out GT, are more than £50k. That said others DB7s still represent an enticingly affordable way into Aston ownership, with both higher mileage V12s and nice 3.2s available for £25k or less. Almost 30 years since its introduction, the experience might leave something to be desired, but classics are seldom this desirable – nor affordable. Ensure the cambelt has been changed on time for a 3.2, look out for rust and, importantly, make sure you’re comfy – a DB7 is a snug fit…
Up to £35,000…
As alluded to above, the DB7 was going to take some replacing, having single-handedly (and successfully) established Aston in a whole new sector. Fortunately, the DB9 was just that car: the new look was far more modern yet just as attractive, the VH architecture ensured space for human adults and the interior was a revelation back in 2003.
Perhaps the early cars didn’t quite live up to the lofty (and maybe unobtainable) expectations set for the DB9, but it certainly came good in the end, with more than ample performance from a 450hp version of the 5.9 V12 and dynamic abilities in a different league to the ‘7. With Coupe and Volante models, manual and auto gearboxes plus a host of options – and those killer looks – the DB9 proved popular, meaning there are plenty to be had secondhand.
At the time of writing, there are more than 50 DB9s in the PH classifieds, priced from less than £30k for early, high mileage cars to in excess of £150k for the final Bond Editions. With £35k to spend, a Coupe like this is available: a 2007 car in a great colour combination with 50,000 miles. Of course, it’s going to cost a great deal more than a £35k new car to keep going, but that’s an awful lot of V12 Aston for 3 Series money. And there’s plenty more where that came from…
Up to £45,000…
Considered as a luxury saloon to rival the likes of the Bentley Flying Spur, the Rapide came up short. Literally: it simply wasn’t as commodious as many were expecting from a four-door, four seat Aston Martin.
On the flipside here was a four-door, four-seat Aston Martin that drove better than all its rivals, much more like the 2+2 (and a bit more) DB9 that it could more accurately be described as. By the time of its 2010 introduction Aston was really into its stride with the VH cars, and it showed in the Rapide, a car far more athletic and rewarding than its billing could have ever implied.
The best Rapide is the 2013-on S, with the eight-speed auto and 80 additional horsepower from the V12. But with prices starting at £35,000 for the 470hp original – yes, really – there is still a lot going for the standard Rapide. This car is £45k with 50,000 miles – no one would ever guess you paid so little.
Up to £55,000…
- V8 Vantage
Perhaps the best known, and surely the most successful, of the 21st century Aston Martins, the V8 Vantage really did have it all: gorgeous looks, thunderous V8, suave interior and great handling. As with the DB9, the earliest ones perhaps didn’t show the Vantage off to its best, but it all came good eventually. Like really, really good.
The 2008 facelift, which brought the 4.7-litre and performance to match the soundtrack, can be bought for less than £40k – a great buy they make, too. With more in the kitty, however, some of the best V8 Vantages are within reach, including the 2011-on V8 S. It brought in quicker steering, a new Graziano gearbox, a 30kg weight saving and bigger brakes for arguably the best series production V8 that emerged in its decade-and-a-bit on sale.
This one a great example of what AMG A45 cash can now buy; a 2013 Vantage S, for sale at Aston Martin Works with just 17,000 miles recorded. The Vantage has not been short of maladies over the past 15 years or so, but a wealth of knowledge has built up around the cars as well. And, predictable though it’s going to sound, you’d excuse a V8 Vantage quite a lot, wouldn’t you?
Up to £65,000…
- V12 Vanquish
For a car first previewed as long ago as 1998 and the Project Vantage concept, the V12 Vanquish still looks absolutely superb. Forget DB9s, V8s and Rapides – the first Aston Martin of the 21st century might still be the best looking of them all.
The Vanquish wasn’t just a new car for Aston, of course – it was a whole new era. Out with the old handbuilt, V8 warhorses, in with aluminium architecture, V12s and automated manuals. Imagine being concerned for the future when it was represented by the Vanquish! Sure, the gearbox was never the best – even by the standards of the early 2000s – and it ages the car now. Manual conversions are possible, but the work is expensive and converted cars carry a premium.
That said, it’s far easier to overlook gripes when presented with a V12 Aston icon for less than £65,000. In the same way old manuals required patience, so you’ll have to learn to take it easy on early paddleshifts. And budget plenty for repairs… This car is 20 years old next year and has covered 38,000 miles, delivered new to Hugh Grant of all people. Sold following a recommission at Aston Works in 2019 with four new tyres, a recent service and even the original phone, it’s £64,000. What more could we possibly tell you than that?
Up to £85,000…
- V12 Vantage
With Aston on the brink of range-wide electrification, the manual having no future and V12 not long for this world, it’s quite incredible to think that buyers could buy this model new as recently as 2011: a V12-powered Vantage, with more than 500hp and a manual gearbox as the only transmission choice.
Aston Martin had teased the idea of its biggest engine in its smallest car back in 2007 with the RS Concept; while the production car that arrived in 2009 was less extreme (the RS potential eventually being realised with the GT12), it remained the most exciting Aston in years. There was no way that engine married to that shape couldn’t be, even if ‘exciting’ might have been the polite way to describe how it drove as well…
The rough edges of the V12 were smoothed out with the S of 2013, but it isn’t hard to see the appeal of the wildchild original – one person’s challenging is another’s characterful, after all. And from less than £70k, too. This one has covered just 2,000 miles a year from new, with an asking price of £84,950. Those who prefer their sports cars the old-fashioned way need look no further.
Up to £100,000…
Those who prefer their sports a little more modern, on the other hand, should consider the DB11. The first car of the Second Century product plan, it laid out Aston’s stall brilliantly well: the new twin-turbo V12 was immense, the new architecture further improved ride and handling and the styling met with widespread (if not universal) approval.
Though a subsequent AMR highlighted one or two less than perfect aspects of the original DB11 (which it actually replaced), those are easier to look more favourably on with the cars now half their new price. Yes, the DB11 really was launched five years ago. The very cheapest cars are now under £90k, with a £100,000 budget bringing both V12 and V8 DB11s into play.
This 2017 car is Aston approved, with just 13,000 miles and a modest spec from the factory – a new raft of personalisation options for the DB11 meant a few bold choices emerged. Like the DB9, the ’11 will continue to depreciate for a little while yet, if not at the rate it once did. And as they say, depreciation doesn’t matter if you don’t sell…
Up to £125,000…
- Vantage AMR
Aston Martin had its work cut out replacing the Vantage, but thanks in no small part to an AMG-donated V8, the 2018 car was a fitting follow up. Building on the Second Century potential shown in the DB11, the Vantage was leaner and meaner than the V12 GT – and the better for it.
Though clearly still with a relaxed side, the turbocharged Vantage was miles more capable (and faster) than its predecessor. The eight-speed auto was a much better fit than any of the automated manuals were, the V8 still thundered, and the sense of occasion was off the scale. Not everyone loved the looks, and the interior was confusing, but the Vantage did so much so well that the demerits weren’t dealbreakers – it was a worthy replacement for a legend.
With the car having now been on sale for three years, early Vantages are available from less than £90k; a £125,000 maximum means nearly new cars are obtainable. But it also opens the door to the Vantage AMR, with its manual gearbox and 100kg weight saving over standard. With the days of three-pedal Astons already numbered, it would be a very hard one to resist.
Up to £150,000…
- Vanquish Volante
We couldn’t do a best Astons list without a convertible mentioned somewhere, and we weren’t simply going to make do with any old Volante. (Not least because so many drop-top Astons weren’t all that well resolved design-wise.) No, we wanted the best – and it’s hard to think of anything better than a Vanquish S Volante. Look at it!
The V12 Vanquish never had a convertible version, something its replacement rectified soon after launch. “More exotic than the SLS and sportier than the Bentley GTC” is how we summarised the Vanquish Volante, adding that it was a “much-needed lift from the DB9-based cars it supercedes” – job jobbed.
But with those cars available from £115,000, we need something even more special for this slot, and the Vanquish S Volante is that car. Launched in 2017, it followed the template laid out by the coupe S of the previous year: 600hp from the V12, the eight-speed auto at last and a new setup to put distance between it and the new launched DB11. The Vanquish – indeed the entire VH era – was signing off in style. While cars like the GT12 and GT8 Vantages were more attention grabbing, arguably nothing showed off quite what could be achieved with that engine and those underpinnings than the Vanquish – it really was delightful. Dated in areas, for sure, but joyous to drive.
A few years later, the Vanquish S Volante still commands at least £140k, so it’s the natural fit here. Another Aston approved car, its sombre colour combination hasn’t harmed the Vanquish’s impact one bit; for a car not universally loved at launch its ageing very nicely indeed. With 14,000 miles recorded in three years, this Volante has clearly been enjoyed – no reason for that to stop with a new owner.
Up to £200,000
- DBS Superleggera
Objectively speaking, the DBS Superleggera was a tricky one to explain. It wasn’t very super light at all, and the DB11 AMR that launched around the same sort of time undercut it significantly. With the same V12. And a top speed just 3mph less.
But if ever there was a car for real life rather than an on-paper comparison, the DBS Superleggera was it. Because that gave you the chance to see its spectacular form up close, to appreciate every detail and styling flourish – and to experience a 725hp Aston Martin.
That so much power was generated from a twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 wasn’t the surprise, given the capacity and the forced induction; the surprise was in just how well the DBS coped with 725hp and 664lb ft – like it was always intended never to have a jot less. Performance was astonishing, and the DBS drove beautifully; if the DB11 and Vantages were qualified successes, the Superleggera was an immediate hit. If you could live with the interior.
In 2021 it’s possible to pay £150k for a DBS, and that includes approved ones. £200,000 not only brings low mileage cars like this one into play, but also DBS Volantes as well. Which is about as awesome as you might expect from a 700hp convertible Aston to be.
Sky’s the limit…
What else could it be? For many the DB5 is still the first car that comes to mind when Aston Martin is brought up, thanks to an association with a certain movie franchise. One Aston Martin remains only too keen to exploit, if the latest DB5 Goldfinger cars are anything to go by.
There’s not really a lot more to be said about not just the most famous Aston Martin of all time, but one of the best-known cars in history. Right now, the entry point is half a million for a car described as “eminently usable” – although not without a dealer offering a range of upgrades in addition – as if to suggest the DB5 dream may not exactly be found in a totally standard car. And their full restorations start at £299,995…
But then no Aston Martin has ever come cheap, and not least one that has achieved worldwide notoriety – especially with fewer than 900 made more than 50 years ago. This DB5 is especially appealing for not being Birch Silver, and Dubonnet Rosso looks fantastic. With its original engine recently rebuilt and upgraded to 4.2-litres along with the gearbox, it’s described by the seller as “much loved and cherished… regardless of cost.” Which makes sense, given a car like this is now worth £700,000. But then that isn’t £3m, which is what a Goldfinger costs. And this one can be driven on the road, too; what an unmitigated joy that promises to be.
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