V8 Vantage (V540) Description
V8 Vantage V540 'bolt on'
In production: May 1977 – December 1977
Chassis numbers: V8/11470/RCAC and V8/11563/RCA (prototypes - AM V8 conversions); V8/11640/RCAV to V8/11758/RCAV with a V in the suffix (production)
- in the same series as the V8 Weber carburettor saloons
The first 16 production cars were all built with exactly the same body as the regular AM V8 but with the addition of the front airdam, grille blacking plate, separate cover for the air scoop on the power bulge and a bolted on flip tail spoiler. The first four cars also had small 5 inch Cibie driving lights and Perspex covers on the headlights. After the first four cars, the driving lights grew to 7 inch diameter type, the Perspex headlight covers were deleted and the anti-roll bar reverted to the same type as fitted to the regular AM V8.
Only two of these original Vantages were built left hand drive for overseas markets, one of which, with a full Vantage engine went to the US as a demonstrator. Subsequently, in order to stay in the US after testing by the enthusiastic press, it was fitted with a Federal specification engine.
V8 Vantage V540 ‘flip tail’
In production: December 1977 – September 1978
Chassis numbers: V8/11815/LCAV to V8/12028/RCAV
From chassis V8/11815/LCAV, the coachwork of the Vantage was somewhat tidied up. The rear flip tail became integral to the boot lid and the bonnet bulge opening was welded shut in production. The flip tail Vantage was sought after due to its unique integral body features that were not shared with the contemporary AM V8 saloon. Also the earlier cars were the lightest Vantages because, as time progressed, owners demanded higher levels of comfort and sophistication which added weight. In total, 23 were built, all with manual transmission and full specification Vantage engine. Only seven of these cars were built left hand drive for export to Germany and the Middle East.
Early in 1978, the Vantage was released for sale into the North American market, however, because of the emission regulations, these cars had the Federal specification, low compression, lead free LFM engine, or in one case, the automatic LFA. These additional 11 cars were all left hand drive and described as 'Cosmetic Vantage', the first of which was V8/11841/LCAV. Most of the surviving cars have been subsequently brought up to full European Vantage specification in the US states which has less draconian emission regulations for older cars. The similar Canadian S specification 'Vantage' is covered in the AM V8 section as it is not a true Vantage.