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Aston Martin celebrates 70 years of Vantage. Image by Aston Martin.

Aston Martin celebrates 70 years of Vantage
More than 36,000 Astons now carry the Vantage name.
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What's all this about?

The Vantage name is synonymous with Aston Martin and this year marks the 70th anniversary of it first appearing. It was first applied to the DB2 in 1950 and represented a specific Vantage specification that featured an uprated engine. In that case, it was the 2.6-litre Lagonda engine that received larger SU HV6 carburettors and a higher compression ratio of 8.16:1. Back then, that gave the car a power output of 127hp, which was a fair jump over the standard 107hp - and it proved popular, with 248 examples being produced.

Speaking about the anniversary of the Vantage, Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group CEO, Dr Andy Palmer, said: "Today's Vantage and Vantage AMR sports cars represent the latest interpretation of what this single, yet incredibly evocative word means to drivers around the world. As we celebrate 70 years of Vantage in 2020, it allows us to delight in our superb sports car heritage. Vantage has always stood for engineering ambition, thrilling performance and exceptional beauty, and I'm pleased that today's models more than live up to the standards set by their iconic forebears."

What other models carried the Vantage name?

Following the DB2 Vantage came the DB4 Vantage in 1961 and this was the first time that the Vantage car has different styling to the regular production model. Faired-in headlights and bright aluminium trim helped to set the car apart, and beneath the bonnet was the Special Series engine that utilised three SU HD8 carburettors, revised cylinder heads with larger valves and a higher compression ratio. That gave the car a 10 per cent power increase to 270hp over the standard 3.7-litre straight-six.

In 1964 the DB5 Vantage followed up, although only 68 of these would be made. The Vantage engine got triple Weber carburettors that gave a 40hp power increase. There was also a soft top DB5 Convertible with the Vantage engine, and this is one of the rarest of all Vantage models as only eight examples were produced. If you wanted to upgrade to the Vantage back then, buyers had to stump up an additional £158 plus tax. The DB6 Vantage came after that, appearing in MkI and then MkII guises, featuring the same 4.0-litre straight-six as the DB5 with the same power output.

Then in 1967 came the DBS Vantage that marked a major change. Its more angular style came from the pen of William Towns, who until then was a junior interior designer at Aston. Originally, this car was due to get a new V8 engine, however it was not ready in time and Aston Martin resorted to using the same 4.0-litre six-cylinder.

Five years later, an improved DBS was revealed, sporting two headlights instead of the previous four but only 70 examples would be made as by now the Vantage name didn't carry the same appeal, mainly due to this model being the least powerful of the range at the time.

Getting the Vantage mojo back...

Skip ahead to 1977 and Aston Martin reveals the V8 Vantage, a proper supercar that would go head-to-head against cars like the Ferrari 512BB and Lamborghini Countach. Faster than a Ferrari Daytona to 60mph, the V8 Vantage had a top speed of 170mph thanks to its potent V8.

This trend continued into the 1990s with the debut of the new V8 Vantage that was based on the Virage. A huge GT in every sense, this 1,990kg monster was powered by a 5.3-litre V8 with two Eaton superchargers to give it a power output of 558hp. In late 1998 Aston Martin unveiled the V600 variant, that gained an additional 50hp.

The Ian Callum-designed DB7 V12 Vantage made its debut at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show boasting a 5.9-litre, 48-valve all-alloy V12 engine with 426hp. Available in both manual and automatic, though the latter was limited to 165mph, Aston Martin produced 2,091 examples in all, with the last car being made in 2003.

In 2005, the V8 Vantage began production at Gaydon and to date it remains the most successful Vantage model. The 4.3-litre quad cam dry-sumped engine produced plenty of power and was fitted with a six-speed manual. This model was followed up by the V12 Vantage, that weighed only 50kg more thanks to an aluminium-alloy engine.

That brings us up to today, where the current Vantage will be joined later this year by a drop-top version. There's also the Vantage AMR that we drove last year, featuring a seven-speed manual transmission from Graziano.

Dave Humphreys - 2 Mar 2020

Earlier articles featuring 2020 Aston Martin Vantage

2020-02-12: Roadster joins Aston Martin Vantage range
2019-10-07: Aston’s Vantage convertible opening next year

2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.

2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.2020 Aston Martin Vantage 70th Anniversary. Image by Aston Martin.    - Aston Martin road tests
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