Part 2 : Getting hands on the V12 Vantage

My father always liked to drive, and had owned cars with some sporty behavior more than real sports cars. The first one was a first generation, 16 valves Volkswagen Golf GTI, which he had paid with his first salaries when he started to work. The first Golf GTI is still today recognized as the first sports hatchback, and probably one of the greatest ever made, with the Peugeot 205 GTI, and then Lancia Delta HF Integrale. Then he owned one of the best BMWs ever produced, an E30 325i. Although it didn’t have the original first M3 chassis and bodywork, it had the mighty six cylinder in line engine, which made an unforgettable sound. The BMW X5 3.0i we had, although being a big and heavy SUV, was very pleasant to drive and enjoyed much showing its road potential. He bought back in 2006 a new Audi A3 Quattro Sportback with the four stroke in line 2 litre turbocharged engine from the Volkswagen Golf GTI Mark 5. It developped 200 horsepower and was huge fun to drive, thanks to the Haldex differential who kept you on the road when the front couldn’t keep up with the power in the bends.

My father has a fascination for front engined V12 Grand Tourer

My father wanted a real sports car since long. Although not every sports car. He has a fascination for front engine V12s grand tourer, and although I tried to convert him to rear engined berlinettas with other engines, like V8s or V10s, he would always tell me that there was no equivalent to a V12, and that he preferred the way a front engine GT looked, probably coming from the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO. He rarely liked Lamborghinis, finding them often too vulgar, preferring softer Bentley Continental GT or Porsche 911s. I remember he dreamt of the Aston Martin DB7 and the Ferrari 550 Maranello back when I was nine, finding both of them ultimately beautiful. He wanted a sports car for his 40th birthday in 2001, me being eleven, but my mother refused, because she has been scared of cars since several years. He had tested both cars, had brought both of them home to show them to my mother but she always found sports cars a bit futile. I can’t give her wrong, but the pleasure sports cars can give you is really worth the price.

Ferrari_550_Maranello

He always followed with a lot of attention what Aston Martin, probably thanks to James Bond, came up with along the years. The DB9, the V8 Vantage, the Rapide, the V12 Vantage, the DBS, the One-77. He was trying every year to convince my mother to buy a sports car, without success. I was trying to help, searching for the one car that finally my mother would like, in vain. We looked for some affordable classics : Ferrari 250 GTE, or 365 GT 2+2 Queenmary, Aston Martin DB4, but although we found some interesting cars, my mother never approved, and he was afraid about eventual mechanical problems and precautions because they were old cars. He wanted a car where he could be sure that if he got in, it would start immediately.

A few years later, he bought himself a beautiful watch for his 48th birthday, an Omega Seamaster James Bond Quantum of Solace, and when they came back home with my mother, I remember him saying : “Now, we just have to find the appropriate car to match.” And I knew from that moment my mother wouldn’t be able to stop my father from concretizing his dream of a sports car. That dream would have to get true for his 50th birthday, and therefore we started searching for the appropriate car. Given the budget he had we were looking for a Ferrari 550 or 575 Maranello in blue or black, or an Aston Martin DB9 with the same colors. But as my mother didn’t want a Ferrari, finding it too vulgar, too showy, my father had to concentrate his efforts on the DB9.

So the choice was simple : Ferrari 575 Maranello versus Aston Martin DB9. My mother settled this : DB9.

DB9_1

I was very disappointed by this decision because I have to say that between the two cars, I would have preferred the Ferrari to the Aston. The DB9 is certainly an amazing car, but it had been the british underdog since the launch of the DBS, and the Maranello would have been a more polyvalent car, offering the same grand tourer charm than the Aston Martin, while adding some italian spicy feeling when driving on some more sinuous roads or on a track. The biggest problem with that choice though was related to the specifications my father wanted on his future potential DB9. He was searching for an automatic flappy paddle version, and as mentioned before this gearbox is just simply awful. I mean it works fine, most of the time, but it is dreadfully slow, when playing with the paddles, compared to its competitors like the Ferrari 550 or 575. So I was hoping to find one of the very few DB9s built with the manual gearbox, and didn’t find one.

My father first found an interesting Aston Martin DB9 for sale at Aston Riviera Cars, in Lausanne, and went to test it, but as it had the flappy paddles, I wasn’t happy at all. Moreover, it was one of the very first DB9, with the bad rims, and without the new DBS seats, which meant it had grown outdated. The services offered by Aston Riviera Cars though are amazing and if you want an Aston Martin and need a passionate expertise do not hesitate to pass by. Their website is : http://www.astonriviera.ch/. My father kept searching, and found another alternative at Safenwil’s Aston Martin official garage, which is a few kilometers away from Zurich, more than two hours away from where we lived. My father decided though we should go there to see the car. So we took our good old Volvo XC90 and went there, only to see that they didn’t even wash the car we were interested in and kept almost all the time trying to make a deal for a new DB9, which was almost twice our budget.

DB9_2

I didn’t care : There was a V12 Vantage for God sake !

I was very happy though that we had come there, because there was an Aston Martin V12 Vantage, which was grey, with a bicolor black and red interior. It had all the good options : the Bang & Olufsen sound package, the lightweight carbon bucket seats that not very much car had, and the piano black center console. I didn’t care about any other cars in the showroom, I stayed the entire time almost looking at the V12 Vantage, that even at some point I started thinking that maybe it would make me feel awkward to other people, but I didn’t care. There was a V12 Vantage for God sake ! I think my mother started to understand there that I really liked this car, and I started arguing with my father during the return back home about all the elements that made the V12 Vantage better than the DB9, thinking this was a lost war, as it wasn’t at all in the planned budget.

The V12 Vantage was better in every way than the DB9 and I couldn’t find any single element where it was just as good or worse. It is better looking, more agressive, more powerful, lighter, better trimmed, it has a manual gearbox, it drives better, it steers better, it has better performances, it is more exclusive, but sadly… It was more expensive. The fact is I knew that if I had only one and only one single chance to convince my father the V12 Vantage was worth it, I would have to justify the price difference. For me it was obvious that because of the reasons mentioned before the V12 Vantage was a better value for money, but there was one other element I hadn’t pointed out at my father. The fact that if any modern Aston Martin would become a good investment for money, there was very good chance for the V12 Vantage to be one. With a limited production, it is more desirable than the V8, and is one of the very last cars from the british manufacturer, and one of the last front engined V12 cars proposed with the manual gearbox.

V12_Vantage_4

To see if my techniques had worked I had one last argument, one that could only work if I had done everything before. And as I felt I had done everything I could, I decided to use it a few days after we had been to Safenwil. The idea was simple : proposing him to go and test the V12 Vantage to see the differences between both cars, and even more understanding the extraordinary potential of the V12 Vantage. He accepted and went with my mother, at our local Aston Martin dealership, in Nyon. He came back and just said “It’s completely different” with a huge smile on his face, and I knew from that moment I had won something, but I didn’t know if it had been enough to decide him to switch from the DB9 to the V12 Vantage and change the budget. My mother had been rather impressed by the sound, and had asked my father what was that sound when hearing the V12 roaring to life, but she didn’t emit any negative opinion to the car itself, apart from the fact it was very low, and that the visibility was not very good. The car they had tested had a little over 3’000 kilometers on the odometer, and was equipped with the best option I wanted in that car, the carbon fiber bucket seats, and the piano black center console. The posted price was nearly twice the original budget, and almost the same as a new DB9, so I had very little hopes.

After testing the V12 Vantage, my father just told me “It’s completely different” with a huge smile. I knew I had won. But was it enough ?

My father secretly negotiated the price during more than 6 weeks where I didn’t see nothing coming. And one day, while we were chatting about cars, he admitted he was almost at the end of the price negotiation, getting a good deal on the car. I have to admit that for a few days I couldn’t and didn’t want to believe that we were this close to buy my ultimate favorite car, a black Aston Martin V12 Vantage. And then suddenly it was done. My dad has accepted the deal, and we had to go and pick up the car. Suddenly I was that 14 years old kid again watching the AMV8 Concept Car, I saw myself watching the TopGear ending and crying, wondering if I would own an Aston Martin V12 Vantage one day. And my dad had just decided he would get one !

V12_Vantage_5