With most automakers cutting the number of gas-fueled engines they’re producing, it’s little surprise to hear of Aston Martin’s announcement Wednesday. In what has to be the briefest press release of the year, the company announced the return a V-12-powered Vantage sports car. “It’s not just a Limited Edition, it’s a Final Edition. Returning in 2022,” the company said in a press release without further elaboration, as if any were necessary.
Of course, knowing how much horsepower this final gasp of gas-fueled frenzy produces would be nice, as well as any modifications the vehicle might have. And knowing a price would be nice as well.
What we know
For the record, the 2021 Vantage’s base price ranges from $139,000 to $147,000. For that money, you get an AMG-sourced “M 177” twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 with as much as 528 horsepower. While Mercedes-Benz has cut production of that engine for its own models in the U.S. market, the announcement, “doesn’t affect Aston Martin, so the V8 Vantage will continue to be sold in 2022,” according to Nathan Hoyt, head of PR for Aston Martin The Americas. So the new V12 Vantage is the model’s final, raucous, fuel-powered concerto before the onslaught of electrification at Aston Marin.
How much power will the V12 Vantage have?
Currently, the DB11’s V-12 produces 630 hp, while the DBS’s powerplant yields 715 hp. Our guess is that the Vantage’s power will be less than either of them, given its place in the line-up. But no word on whether a manual or automatic transmission — or both — will be offered.
With the company having offered a V8 Vantage with a manual, the V-12 could possibly be offered with a manual as a parting gift to a motoring world that will increasingly see fewer of them in the age of BEVs.
And, given that the new model is a final edition, it stands to figure that the V-12 model will cost somewhere north of $150,000.
A well-known engine upgrade for decades
The Vantage name will celebrate 72 years in 2022, having first appeared in 1950 on the Aston Martin DB2. The name originally signified an Aston with a more powerful engine. In the case of the DB2 with the Vantage specification, this meant 125 hp, up from the standard engine’s 105 horses, thanks to the larger SU HV6 carburetors and a higher 8.16:1 compression ratio in the car’s 2.6-liter engine.
With the debut of the DB4 Vantage in 1961, output rose to 266 hp from its 3.7-liter aluminum straight 6 engine with three SU carburetors, revised cylinder heads, bigger valves, and a higher compression ratio. It was followed by the last of the DB4s, the more spacious 1962 DB4 Series V Vantage. Basically a prototype DB5 and virtually indistinguishable from it, the car was used in the James Bond film, “Goldfinger.”
Perhaps the most famous of any Aston Martin, the DB5 Vantage is extraordinarily rare. Of the DB5s built, a mere 68 of 887 closed cars and 8 of 123 convertibles were built with the optional Vantage engine. Equipped with triple Weber carburetors, it produces 325 hp, 40 more than the standard DB5.
The Vantage upgrade would carry over into the DB6 Vantage, the final development of the DB4. It was followed by the 1967 DBS Vantage. Visually bulkier than its predecessors and designed for a V-8, the Vantage 6-cylinder was used until the V-8 engine was ready in 1969. In 1972, the DBS Vantage’s four headlights were trimmed to two and it was renamed the AM Vantage. By 1974, the company lapsed into receivership. Production ceased until new owners were found in 1975 and with them came a new Vantage.
A very different Vantage debuts
Hailed as “Britain’s first supercar,” the 1977 V8 Vantage could outrun a Ferrari Daytona in the 0-60 mph sprint thanks to its V-8 engine, which was capable of producing 380 hp, but was instead described as produced “adequate” horsepower.
This is, perhaps, the brand’s longest-lived model as finances remained a problem. The 1980s saw the company’s shares tossed back and forth among different investors until Ford Motor Co. bought Aston Martin Lagonda in 1987. The V8 Vantage’s production run would end three years later.
In 1992, a high-performance Vantage, tuned to produce an incredible 550 hp from its supercharged V-8, debuted based on the Virage 2+2 coupe. Production would last until the DB7 V12 Vantage debuted in 1999. Designed by Ian Callum, its 5.9-liter, 48-valve, all-alloy, V-12 engine — basically two Ford Duratec V-6s placed end to end — generated 420 hp through a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic. It would last until 2005.
A new chapter
The current Vantage can trace its roots back to the 2005 V8 Vantage. Built using the company’s new VH architecture first used for the DB9, the Vantage was powered by a brand new 4.3-liter, quad-cam, 32-valve V-8 engine that delivered 380 hp and 302 pound-feet of torque.
That was enough for a 4.7 second 0-60 mph time and a 180-mph top speed. In 2009, the V12 Vantage appeared once again, displacing 5.9 liters and producing 510 hp. But Aston couldn’t leave well enough alone. For 2013, the company released the V12 Vantage S, with 565 hp and a 205-mph top speed. Zero-to-60 runs now occurred in 3.5 seconds.
It was succeeded by the current car, which launched late 2017 powered by an AMG-sourced a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine rated at 503 hp. At the time of its introduction, then-CEO Andy Palmer said that there were “no current plans for a V-12 Vantage.”
Obviously, that’s about to change. Stay tuned.