Following years of financial struggles throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Aston Martin finally found stability when it became part of Ford’s ambitious Premier Automotive Group. In 1987, Ford of Europe vice president Walter Hayes fostered the relationship that eventually led to Ford Motor Company taking full control of Aston Martin, along with Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo. Thanks to Ford’s influx of cash and engineering expertise, the rejuvenated Aston Martin finally had the resources to develop an all-new volume leader to slot beneath the exclusive, hand-built Virage. The first product of the new relationship was the gorgeous, thoroughly modern DB7. With styling by Ian Callum, the DB7 shared its underlying architecture with Jaguar, as well as other critical elements from Ford to keep costs under control without sacrificing the bespoke Aston Martin character. The DB7 was a resounding sales success, and soon the supercharged “AJ6” inline six was supplemented with a suitably exotic, Cosworth designed 6.0-liter V12, creating the V12 Vantage and putting Aston Martin squarely back in contention with Ferrari, Maserati, and Porsche.
In 2002 Aston Martin introduced the ultimate expression of its capabilities; the muscular and exotic V12 Vanquish. Based on the all-new bonded aluminum and composite “VH” platform, the Vanquish bore a family resemblance to the DB7, yet with the hard-edged aggression of a proper supercar. Pairing with the light and rigid structure was a 460 horsepower, 6.0 liter V12, and six-speed hydraulically actuated gearbox. The Vanquish had svelte styling, Aston refinement, and 190 mph performance, putting the Ferrari 550 Maranello squarely in its sights. Like the DB7 before it, the Vanquish was a very significant model in Aston Martin history. Not only was it the last model built in the storied Newport Pagnell works, but its sophisticated chassis evolved into the DB9, V8 Vantage, DBS and other vital models in Aston’s renaissance.
Finished in the striking shade of Tungsten Silver, this 2002 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish is number 458 of 1,492 first-series cars produced, and one of approximately 12 US-market cars with the Works Service 6-speed manual conversion. With just 28,198 miles from new, it is truly one of the best examples of its kind, professionally maintained in exceptional condition, and thoroughly documented from Day One with virtually every record, receipt, and note related to its provenance and maintenance. Factory options include 2+2 seating (a $6,350 addition), Alcantara seat inserts, and power folding mirrors. Accompanying the car are all factory books and manuals as well as oft-missing details like the multi-tool, writing pen, tire gauge, and other accessories. It is exquisite and needs nothing cosmetically or mechanically.
The Achilles’ heel of the original Vanquish is its paddle-shift gearbox. Sequential-manual shift technology was still in its infancy, and Aston’s effort was difficult to set up properly and prone to an unhealthy appetite for clutch discs. With such a brilliant chassis and sonorous V12 engine, the Vanquish was practically begging for a proper manual ‘box. Surprisingly, Aston Martin Works Service responded to customer requests and developed a comprehensive conversion kit utilizing DB9 and DB7 GT components to convert the car to a proper three-pedal manual. Not a simple undertaking, the conversion included a new clutch, gearbox modifications, new pedal assembly, revised console, reworked electronics, and cockpit-controlled exhaust valves. US-market conversions were performed out of the workshop at Autosport Designs, an Aston Martin specialist in Huntington Station, New York. Aston Martin flew in a team of specially trained technicians to perform the conversions on-site, at a retail cost of nearly $40,000 per car.
The complete ownership history of #458 is fully documented, showing the first owner took delivery on September 24, 2002, via Aston Martin of Tampa, with the MSRP of $236,330. It remained with the first owner for three years before being traded to Aston Martin of New England in 2005. From there, it went to Autosport Designs. They facilitated the sale to the second owner, as well as the gearbox conversion for the 3rd owner, in 2007. The fourth and most recent owner acquired it from Autosport in 2009 with 25,977 miles. Since then, he has methodically documented the ownership and service history, including contacting prior owners and obtaining factory build records, receipts, photos of the conversion, copy of the window sticker, and factory service information.
Fastidiously maintained and ready for the road, this Vanquish presents in superb condition. The metallic Tungsten Silver paintwork is exquisite, with deep gloss and impeccable finish quality. Original wheels are virtually unmarked, wrapped with excellent Yokohama AVS Sport rubber. Complementing the paint color is a gorgeous cabin trimmed in Pacific Blue leather with optional Smoke Gray quilted Alcantara inserts. Like the paintwork, the interior is in outstanding order, with excellent seat bolsters and clean, unmarked seat inserts. The six-speed manual conversion is seamless, using all factory components, and all original switchgear and controls remain in place with no visible wear.
Under the bonnet sits the mighty, 460 horsepower 6.0 liter V12, which sounds glorious through the sports exhaust system. Like the rest of the car, the engine bay is impeccably clean. In the hands of the most recent owner, maintenance highlights include new ignition coils and spark plugs, intake gaskets, complete fluid services, new updated Bosch fuel pumps, and annual maintenance to factory recommendations; all of which is documented in two large binders. Also, the factory paddle-shift parts and components removed during the gearbox modification have been retained and are included in the sale.
The taut and muscular good looks of the Vanquish have aged well, with characteristics of the design still appearing on the Aston Martins of today. With its gorgeous color scheme, highly desirable 6-speed conversion and superb presentation, this V12 Vanquish is sure to satisfy even the most meticulous collector and is ready for Grand Touring in the finest English tradition.