V8 Saloon Oscar India

V8 Saloon Oscar India Description

In production: 1978 – 1986

Chassis numbers: 12032 – 12495, excluding 12381

- V8 Vantage chassis numbers are also within the AM V8 series

Observant spectators at the Club’s St. John Horsfall Trophy race meeting in the summer of 1978 noticed not only that the car driven by Ray Mallock and David Morgan was a bit quick, but also that it looked a little different. It (V8/11870/RCAV) was the prototype (although Vantage version) of the next stage of AM V8 development. Known as ‘Oscar India’ in the factory, tipping their hats to Alan Curtis, an enthusiastic flyer, it was unveiled to the public at large on the 1st of October, 1978. For many years it was believed the ‘Oscar India’ stood for October Introduction. Yet in David Dowsey’s acclaimed Aston Martin book, ‘Power, Beauty & Soul’, Mike Loasby, the AM Chief Engineer at the time stated something quite different. Alan Curtis owned a Cessna 152 aeroplane, and ‘OI’ was part of the registration number and it was supposedly used to hide the fact that those in the know were referring to a new car. Again, it was the external appearance that provided the first sign of change. The bonnet was revised with a closed, smoothed, power bulge over the air box and, at the back, the boot lid incorporated a very stylish, built-in aerodynamic lip. The fascia was also redesigned, with the addition of polished burr walnut fascia and door cappings (as recently previewed on the V8 Volante), the head lining was pleated leather rather than cloth and the central console was re-styled. The standard air-conditioning had been extensively improved and there were many other detailed improvements, such as revised shock-absorber settings, a glovebox and cigar lighter for rear seat passengers and head restraints fitted as standard.

The Chrysler Torqueflite automatic transmission was fitted as standard with only a tiny number built with the ZF five-speed manual as a cost option. Generally speaking, those owners specifically wanting a manual box would have opted for the Vantage instead.

On the 9th April 1984, the Factory rolled out the car they had selected as the 10,000th Aston Martin: there to greet it was John Martin, son of the founder of the company, Victor Gauntlett, the pre-war racer ‘Green Pea’ and the whole workforce. 

The Oscar India AM V8 was in production for almost eight years and reached a total of 293 examples, 224 known to be RHD (with just 13 known manuals) and 64 known to be LHD (just 12 known manuals). Only 12 Oscar India AM V8s are known to have been sold in North America and from 1980 with the mandatory 5 mph impact bumpers. Demand for the saloon in the States was low probably because customers were more attracted to the Volante.

V8 Saloon Oscar India Updates

March 1980 saw the introduction of the revised V580 spec engine intended to both flatten the power curve by increasing gas velocity and standardise engine parts across the range. The first AM V8 with the new engine was chassis V8SOR 12247 with engine V/580/2247/S. Originally the numbers from the V540 specification engine indicated an approximation to 5.34 litre capacity. With the new V580, the ‘80’ related to the year of introduction. The new specification was based on the Lagonda head with larger 2.1 inch Vantage inlet valves and smaller 1.35 inch inlet ports from the Lagonda. Both inlet and exhaust camshafts featured polynomial profiles and valves were tuftrided with dished heads which gave a better seal and also reduced emissions. Barrel-shaped pistons were standardised right across the range and the compression ratio increased from 9.0:1 to 9.3:1 for European cars (standardised with the Vantage, which was reduced to 9.3:1, down from 9.5:1). Federal LFA and M engines had their compression ratio further reduced from 8.5:1 to 8.0:1. In simplified terms this was only a matter of selecting appropriate camshafts and carburettors to make a regular AM V8, Lagonda or a Vantage engine.

When formally announced in June 1980, the engine was described as the “OPEC-beater”, which mercifully did not stick; the development was very effective as the change to V580 specification improved the petrol economy without impairing the performance.

By mid-1981 the luxury features included interior switches for the boot and filler caps, central locking for both doors, electrically controlled exterior mirrors, a lamp failure warning light, gas struts on the bonnet and a lock up facility on automatic transmissions. Cruise control was a new optional extra on automatics.

At the time of the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1983, even Victor Gauntlett, AML MD since 1981 had to admit that ‘quite frankly, the V8 range has now been finely tuned to a degree which would be difficult to improve on……’. But the Show did premier the replacement of the venerable Coolair air conditioning system with a much improved system and switchgear unique to AML and the fitting of a ‘top-of-the-range’ Bosch stereo radio cassette. Also after 13 years’ service, the GKN wheels were replaced with BBS Mahle cross spoke alloys, quite the height of automotive fashion for the mid 1980s.

A little later in 1985 (from chassis 12475), the steering column was changed to one supplied by General Motors with tilt adjustment and revised control stalks. Also a neat, new, two-spoke steering wheel completely covered in leather replaced the previous three-spoke item. 12475 was the first chassis, too, where the plastic bodied wing mirrors with a chrome base were replaced with metal bodied door mirrors on black bases.

V8 Saloon Oscar India Specification

Body / Coachwork
Two-door 2+2 coupe
Steel platform chassis with handcrafted aluminium alloy body panels
Dual 7'' quartz-halogen headlamps, optional Cibie 7'' driving lights
Built-in rear spoiler, redesigned bonnet without air intake
Full Connolly leather interior including roof lining
Coolaire air-conditioning system
Adjustable seats with tilting squabs to allow access to the rear seats
Walnut facia and cappings
Wool pile carpets
Pioneer stereo radio cassette player, four speakers, electric aerial
Front-mounted all-alloy 90° V8, 5,340 cc, two valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts per bank. Engine number prefix V540/, later V580/
Bore 100 mm. Stroke 85 mm. Compression ratio 9.5:1 (V540), 9.25:1 (V580) 8.0:1 (Emission Control LFM & LFA)
Four Weber 42 DCNF downdraught carburettors (90/100 Europe, 98/150 Emission Control LFM & LFA). Fuel supplied by SU AUF 412 electric pump
Maximum power: not quoted but now known to be 306 bhp @ 5,000 rpm (230 +/- bhp Emission Control V540 LFM & LFA, 210 +/- bhp V580 LFM & LFA)
Maximum torque: not quoted at the time but now believed to be 350 lb.ft @ 3,000 rpm
Air injection system: AC Delco air pump
Twin catalytic convertors on Emission Control LFM & LFA, four from 1980 onwards
Fuel Evaporative System with sealed airbox and carbon cannisters from 1980
Ignition system: Lucas 'OPUS' Mk 2 electronic. 12 volt coil and engine driven Lucas 35DE8 distributor
Lucas 35 DM8 CE (Constant Energy) system from 1982
Automatic: Chrysler TorqueFlite three-speed automatic, lock up from June 1980
Manual: five-speed ZF. Hydraulically-operated 10½" Borg and Beck single dry-plate diaphragm clutch
Optional cruise control with automatic gearbox from 1980
Final drive: Salisbury hypoid bevel with Powr-Lok limited slip differential
Final drive ratio: 3.07:1 (automatic), 3.54:1 (manual)
Power-assisted Adwest rack and pinion 2.9 turns lock to lock. Turning circle 11.58 metres
Wheels and Tyres
Bolt-on, five-stud, GKN Kent 15 x 7 '' light alloy wheels. Later BBS Mahle cast aluminium alloy 7J x 15
Avon 225/70VR GR70 VR15 radial tyres
Front: unequal transverse wishbones, coil springs and co-axial Armstrong telescopic shock absorbers with an anti-roll bar
Rear: rear suspension was by coil spring with the de Dion tube located by parallel trailing links and a Watts linkage and sprung by co-axial spring shock absorber units
Front: ventilated steel discs, 267 mm (10.51") diameter
Rear: ventilated steel discs, 264 mm (10.39") diameter mounted inboard
Tandem master cylinders and dual vacuum servo assistance
Length: 4,667 mm, 4,700 mm with overriders, 4,780 mm with 5 mph impact bumpers
Width: 1,829 mm
Height: 1,327 mm
Kerb weight: 1,727 kg, later quoted as 1,818 kg, (USA, 1,860 kg)
Wheelbase: 2,610 mm
Front track: 1,499 mm, later 1,530 mm
Rear track: 1,499 mm, later 1,562 mm
Fuel tank capacity: 113.6 litres, later stated as 104.6 litres
Performance - V540 auto (Autocar 14/10/1978); V580 auto (Autocar 24/7/1982); V580 auto (Motor 5/5/1984)
Maximum speed: 146 mph (V540) 147 mph (V580, Motor)
Acceleration: 0-60 mph 7.2 seconds (V540), 6.6 seconds (V580)
Acceleration: 0-100 mph 15.8 seconds (V540) 16.0 seconds (V580)
Price (including UK purchase tax/VAT and car tax where applicable)
October 1978: £22,998 (automatic), £23,999 (manual)
April 1979: £27,000
April 1980: £34,500
March 1981: £38,000
February 1982: £40,000 (USA, $96,000 (automatic), $98,000 (manual))
November 1983: £42,500
April 1984: £45,000
June 1985: £50,000

V8 Saloon Oscar India Number Guide

On introduction of the Oscar India AM V8 (from V8SOR 12032) the chassis number format was changed, partly due a new standard for chassis numbers by the Commission of the European Economic Communities. The prefix was made up of V8SOR or V8SOL, where the S either represents the ‘Stage 1’ tune or 'Saloon' and the R or L for right or left hand drive; the usage of a suffix was discontinued. At the same time the V8VOR or L prefix was used for the Vantage and V8COR or L was for the convertible Volante. The first Oscar India V8 was V8SOR 12032. The ‘'O'' is not thought to represent anything as such but was intended to be replaced by something in the future. Japanese cars continued with the previously used chassis number format with a ‘J’ to replace the first 1 in the chassis number such as ‘V8/J2176/R’.

Starting with US bound cars from 1981 and eventually all cars from 1984, the 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) number became standard practice. The final 5 digits of the VIN are what we refer to as the chassis number right through to the end of V8 production. Regular AM V8s can be identified by an ‘S’ in position 8. In previous Registers, where the VIN has been known, the cars were identified by five characters extracted from the VIN prior to the chassis number. An example would be V8VJR12628 where digits 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12 have been used. This can be further confused as internal factory documents would describe the same car as V8VOR12628 following the format that preceded the VIN. For simplicity, and consistency, this Register uses just the final five digits of the VIN when identifying the V8 era cars.

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