Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer gets around in a minty mint 1980 Aston Martin V8 Vantage – Motormouth gets up close and personal with it at the Gaydon company’s 2018 Vantage launch in Portimao. Easy does it now…
I don’t want to be a Youtube star.
Never mind the Olympics – if you want to see Chris Hoy’s claim to fame just head online and look him up, but add the letters G, T, and R to the search box. Yes, he’s the guy who crashed a Nissan GT-R at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Four years ago Andy Palmer was still a Nissan man, and one of the perks of the job was a GT-R Nismo company car, the first one in the UK. Before he’d even had a chance to run the thing in, Hoy was at the wheel drumming up some good PR for the Japanese company with a run up the Goodwood hillclimb course. That run ended in the hay bales.
Today I’m in Palmer’s 1980 V8 Vantage, the man’s personal car, this being the perk of his new gig – Palmer is president and CEO of Aston Martin. And I really don’t want to end up on Youtube.
Palmer never misses an opportunity to mention his beloved classic, ever the brand ambassador keen to extol the dependable virtues of old Aston Martins. Ahem…
To be fair his 1980 V8 Vantage could convince the most skeptical of us that Aston makes the best cars in the world – it is immaculate, with paintwork that rivals the new stuff on had for us to try in Portugal.
Completely restored by Aston’s in-house heritage division, it was all ethically paid for by the boss so he can have extra special casual Fridays. Not only does the man drive it to and from work, but he’s perfectly happy to let strangers (And even worse: car journalists!) muck about with it unable to figure out how to drop the handbrake. Whenever the gig corresponds, the Gaydon team also ships the car around the world as one hell of a conversation piece at Aston Martin launches.
In production for over a decades, around a thousand V8 Vantages were built, and Palmer’s has to be among the best. His 1980 example comes powered by the company’s 5.7-litre V8 engine to earn its gentlemen’s muscle car status, producing 375 horsepower when new which was supercar stuff in those days. In fact, it was a hundred horsepower more than what Lamborghini was getting from its Urraco V8, and 60 horsepower stronger than Ferrari’s V12-engined 400i. Even a turbocharged Porsche 911 couldn’t come close.
It isn’t new any more of course, so now this hand-made 38-year old classic makes over 400bhp thanks to its upgrade to X-Pack specification, a factory option offered back in the day. By far the best bit though has to be the manual dog-leg gearbox with first gear found in the same place where race car drivers find it: over and down.
Palmer’s work commute is a 45-minute drive to Gaydon, so it’s fair to say he’ll be swelling the odo from the original 70,000 miles he bought the car with. He says that even if he didn’t land the top job at Aston Martin, he still would have bought a V8 Vantage, although it would have perhaps been a ’79 model even if he’s happy enough with his ’80. As far as company cars go, Palmer could have done a lot worse than a mint classic like this one. The Cygnet comes to mind.