1980 Aston Martin V8 Vantage 'Series 2' Sports Saloon Registration no. LJH 439W Chassis no. V8VOL 12241 Engine no. V/540/2241/V
With the resurrection of the 'Vantage' name in 1977, Aston Martin enthusiasts everywhere breathed a sigh of relief; previously applied to high-power versions of the DB six-cylinder cars, it had been dormant since the V8's arrival back in 1969. A heavier car than its six-cylinder predecessor, the V8 suffered as emissions legislation became ever more strangulating, leading to concern that Aston Martin's traditional performance image might be lost. The arrival of the Vantage dispelled any such worries.
Propelling Aston's V8 back into the supercar league was a tuned version of the existing 5,340cc engine breathing through a quartet of 48mm Weber carburettors rather than the standard 42mm instruments. Valves and ports were enlarged and the camshafts changed, the end result being an estimated maximum output of around 375-380bhp - in Rolls-Royce fashion the factory chose not to disclose the actual figure, merely claiming that power was 'adequate'.
In 1978 the V8 Vantage earned the title of 'world's fastest accelerating production car' and throughout its life delivered outstanding performance by any standard, accelerating to 60mph in just 5.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 175mph. With such high speeds attainable, aerodynamic refinements were called for. Thus the Vantage gained a deep front 'chin' spoiler, blanked off front grille and a boot lid spoiler, the latter being bolted on to the earliest cars and later integrated into the bodywork. There were commensurate improvements to the suspension, brakes and tyres.
In 1986 an optional upgraded 'X-pack' engine with 432bhp on tap was made available, the engine number suffix changing from 'V' to 'X'. As the mechanical specification progressed so did the coachwork, with wheel arches flaring to accommodate wider rims, increasing the overall width by 2", and 16"-diameter wheels being introduced. Unlike the V8 saloon, which reverted to fuel injection in 1986, the V8 Vantage kept its 48IDF Weber carburettors to the end of production in December 1989, by which time 361 cars had been built.
Chassis number '12241' was ordered in left-hand drive configuration on 14th March 1980 and first registered as 'JBM 112V' on 4th July that same year to His Highness Sheikh Salem Al Ali Al Sabah of Kuwait. It seems that, although invoiced, the car was never exported and returned shortly thereafter to Aston Martin with zero miles recorded. It was converted to right-hand-drive at the factory and on 31st December 1980 was sold to Sir George Pigot, Bt of Berkshire. The car was reregistered as 'GHP 637'.
From January 1985 the Vantage was stored at Aston Martin Lagonda Limited, Newport Pagnell where in May 1989 the engine was rebuilt to 'X-pack' specification at a cost of £8,000+VAT. In September 1993 the car was purchased by Ray Northway of Berkshire and reregistered as 'SWL 660', and in March 1995 was repainted in Rolls-Royce Royal Blue metallic by Silchester Garage. Its next owner, Adrian Gosden of London, acquired the Aston in September 1996. In March 2000 it was sold to Keith Williams of Dunbartonshire and on 23rd March 2006 was reregistered as 'LJH 439W'. The current owner purchased the car on 30th July 2008.
Today the Vantage presents beautifully having had more than £30,000 spent on it by the current owner over the course of the last seven years. Works carried out include an engine top-end rebuild, new sills, a bare-metal repaint, suspension upgrades and interior refurbishment. Driven regularly by the current owner and meticulously maintained, the car is currently reading 105,806 on the odometer, 'LJH 438W' is currently MoT'd and comes with a V5C registration document. There is also extensive marque specialist service history from new and MoTs on file dating back to 1987.