V8 Coupe Description
Unveiled: March 1996
In production: July 1996 - December 1999
Chassis numbers: 79001 - 79101
The style of the V8 Coupe followed the Vantage with the adoption of the triple projecting round headlights behind heated glass panels and the round 'Jaffa' grapefruit rear lights. The standard six spoke OZ Saturn alloy wheels had slimmer spokes than that of the Vantage and were shod with narrower Pirelli P Zero 255/50 tyres and thus the V8 Coupe needed noticeably slimmer haunches. That said, some customers opted for the Vantage OZ six-spoke wheels and such was the scope for personalisation, it was also quite possible to see Vantage matt black grilles fitted in place of the standard chrome edged and plated diagonal mesh.
The body vents that had been initially deleted from the Virage continued on the V8 Coupe and the car also received new, black enamel on chrome, V8 Coupe badges on both the vents. The front air dam was less extreme than on the Vantage and came fitted with a pair of round fog lamps.
The engine was in effect identical to that fitted to the Vantage but without the complication of the twin superchargers. Designated as the /95 specification, it offered a useful increase in peak power to 349 bhp and was also used on the last few Virage Volantes. The additional 24 bhp was achieved by the use of improved cylinder heads, camshafts, pistons and an improved Weber Marelli ‘Alpha Plus’ engine management system. The exhaust gases passed through a three way catalytic system for unleaded fuel countries. For some Middle East countries, where leaded fuel was still the norm, a non-catalytic system was available. The engine was mated to an electronically controlled four-speed Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic gearbox first seen in later editions of the Virage. On paper, a five or six-speed manual transmission was available 'on request' although there is no evidence of any factory manual V8 Coupes: all cars were built as automatics.
The interior could be tailored to the customers’ requirements with the upholstery in Connolly hides, often with contrasting piping. Burr walnut was standard for the facia, door cappings and the centre console although Elm and Maple were also available. Wilton carpet with contrasting Connolly hide edging was used in the floor covering. The layout of the centre console of the V8 Coupe with clock, voltmeter and fuel gauge was shared with the Vantage. So that the driver was protected by an airbag, the V8 Coupe adopted the steering wheel familiar to owners of the Lincoln Town Car. Although at launch a passenger side air bag was initially listed as an optional extra, it does not appear that it was actually made available.
The car was arrested by large ventilated disc brakes all round, controlled by an anti-lock system and steered through a power-assisted rack and pinion that was able to vary the assistance according to the speed of the car, giving the most assistance at parking speeds. Cruise control was included as standard and power was delivered to the road via a limited slip final drive.
At the time of its introduction, the market for such expensive cars had contracted due to on-going world monetary problems, so at £139,500, though some £5,926 more than the outgoing Virage, it was £38,100 less than the Vantage.
In all, 101 examples were built over a three and a half year production run, 69 with right hand drive and mostly for the UK market but also Singapore, Australia and Japan. The remaining 32 left hand drive cars were sold in mainland Europe, the Middle East and Japan. Although the Japanese drive on the left as in the UK, paradoxically, left hand drive prestige cars are favoured as they allow the driver to exit the driver’s seat directly onto the pavement. The V8 Coupe was not available for sale in North America. The final example, 79101 received V8 Vantage coachwork and is believed to be the only V8 Coupe built as such.
The production process for the late 1990's ‘V’ cars took 15 weeks of painstaking craftsmanship and attention to detail, with customers encouraged to make regular visits to Newport Pagnell to monitor the progress of their purchase. The predominant colour of choice was green with 50 examples painted in this hue, especially Buckinghamshire Green, a popular AM colour choice for a period of ten years. Next most popular was blue with 26 examples, mostly with blues from the Rolls Royce pallet such as Royal Blue, Midnight Blue and Peacock Blue.
V8 Coupe Updates
A few changes were made during the production of the 101 cars, allowing earlier cars, those in the middle of the production run and the very last cars all to be differentiated.
From chassis 79045, the door mirrors were changed from the Citroen CX type to being sourced from the Jaguar XK8. From chassis 79080 (and including 79074) the door handles changed to the flush mounted Mondeo-type with integral keyhole. At the same time, the V8 Coupe badges were given rounded corners and the Recaro seat electrical controls were moved from the door to the seat squab. This final change brought the seats to the same specification as the Vantage cars although the stitching remained unique to the V8 Coupe.
Some technical updates did occur through production with changes and upgrades being implemented right up to the last few cars.
V8 Coupe Derivatives
In production: September 1996 - December 1997
Chassis numbers: 79007 - 8, plus one other
A European customer of AML made the decision that he wished to purchase a Virage shooting brake but at the time the request reached the factory in early 1996, the Virage was about to be replaced by the new V8 Coupe. So instead, he placed an order for a V8 Coupe-based shooting brake, as did his brother and a pair of cars spent two years at Works Service being badged as ‘V8 Sportsman’.
Both the cars were built to left hand drive automatic specification and finished in British Racing Green with matching dark green interior. Both cars had 'stepped' Vantage round tail lights and round V8 Coupe reversing/fog lights (79008). The only reliable method of distinguishing between these two cars is the satellite navigation unit retrofitted by Works Service to 79007.
A third shooting brake built by Works Service, features side by side tail lights, rectangular Vantage reversing/fog lights and a high level rear brake lamp.
In production: December 1999
Chassis number: 79101
The final chassis number of the V8 Coupe range was finished with a twist. This car, unique to the V8 Coupe, was delivered with external Vantage cosmetics, i.e. Vantage bodywork and lights, Vantage alloys and Vantage grille. The interior specification remained true to the V8 Coupe.
V8 Coupe Variants
Design Q are a UK based design consultancy headed by Howard Guy and Gary Doy who previously worked as designers for Jaguar Cars Limited. Design Q Limited create design solutions and prototypes for interior and exterior automotive applications, working with high-profile and prestigious clients in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. Strange then that in 2002 they received a commission not from a car manufacturer, but from an individual client wishing for some modifications for his V8 Coupe, chassis number 79076. One thing lead to another and the result iwas the unusual QV8 - reputed to have cost around a million pounds sterling. Despite the substantial modifications, the car still retained the integrity of the original Aston Martin.
To begin with, the wish list was modest, ranging from new audio equipment to upgrades of switchgear and door handles. Design Q compiled a series of photo-realistic visuals freshening the character of the car with changes to lamps, shut lines, external fittings and more significantly a revised glass area and subtly modified body shape. This was complemented with a completely new interior incorporating an innovative storage system in place of the redundant rear seats. The only external carry-overs from the original V8 Coupe were the door skin.
The car was completed with a luxurious metallic paint finish of green / blue flip that truly set off the stainless steel finishers and stood on new 19 inch Aston Martin DB7 Vantage alloy wheels.