Aesthetics will always be subjective, but to our mind, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage is the most beautiful car on sale in the world. When the shape first appeared in 2005 as the V8 Vantage people drooled. Furthermore, that reaction hasn’t been tempered with time, we don’t think it has aged one bit and we’re glad Aston hasn’t meddled just for the sake of it. Then just when we didn’t think it could get any better, someone at Aston Martin produced a proper modern-day hot rod.
Take the smallest car in the range, fit it with a ludicrously large, range topping engine, and the result is the V12 Vantage. It’s all the things we love about an Aston Martin, but just more of it. Yes it has it’s flaws, all the best things do (and if it was Italian, it would just be called ‘character’), but as a petrol head, you can\’t help but cherish the theatre of it all. The feel of the chunky glass key, cold and slightly alien shape in your hand. Pulling on the delicate, recessed, door handle sees the door scythe open in a slight arc with the help of a gas cylinder to support it.
Climb in over the wide sill, being careful not to scrape your shoes on the anodized satin kick plates and drop into the dark, but beautifully trimmed cabin, the subtle aroma of expensive leather as comforting as the very supportive seats themselves. Swing the door shut and it closes with a satisfying thud, then carefully insert the glass key into it\’s slot high on the dash. Pause for a moment to take in the acres of soft leather with contrasting stitching, the piano black dash with the jewel-like glass buttons. Then foot on the clutch, firmly press the key into the dash and hold it, just for a second longer than you might think. As with all the best large capacity, multi cylinder engines, the starter motor spins fast for a few moments, then you\’re rewarded with a sonorous eruption of noise from the 5.9 litre, naturally aspirated V12 that fills the space around you, both in the cabin and outside it, before settling to a rich, baritone idle.
Anyone with the funds could buy a new V12 Vantage like this, except for one thing. On the personalised sill plates, laser-etched with the name and signature of the owner, it says ‘End of an Era’. What does that mean? This is the very last car that Aston Martin has made that combines their V12 engine with a manual gearbox. There will never be another.
Having taken delivery of this brand new car, our client got in touch with us to discuss protecting it long term in the best way possible. It will be used, and driven as intended – it’s not gong to be a show queen. But having invested in it, he wants it to stay looking it’s best. Having discussed the options, and having looked at the disappointingly poor factory paint finish, our client agreed that the GTechniq suite of products best suited his needs, along with the application of Xpel Ultimate paint protection film to be applied to the whole front end and sills by the experts at Paintshield, based in Peterborough. That is where this story continues on a cold but unusually dry February morning.
Having already inspected the car we knew what to expect. But on this sunny morning after a quick wash to remove 125 miles of winter road grime, they were only too obvious to see.
Apart from the usual marring and swirls, the major issue was sanding marks left by the factory, seen in this picture as the grey looking areas at the panel edges. Caused by the (perfectly normal) use of an orbital sanding machine as part of the paint finishing process, they should have been properly refined and polished out before sign off. However, as is so often the case, quality control appears to have been fast asleep, and extensive sanding marks, or ‘pig tails’ as they are sometime known, were visible all over the car. Particularly bad at the panel edges of the nearside front wing and door, the bonnet was also riddled with them and would need to be sorted before anything else was done.
There were even severe sanding marks across one of the polycarbonate light lenses, and other various scratches and marks around the car.
Following a well rehearsed routine, we masked up any trim or gaps necessary, and got polishing. Aston paint is actually a joy to work with and responds beautifully, but many hours went into getting it just right. Unlike applying a wax or polymer based sealant afterwards that can be easily worked over again and reapplied, the GTechniq products actually chemically become part of the paint surface as they cure. So it\’s important to get the finish right to start with, as whilst not impossible, rectifying problems later are considerably harder. To this end, we worked until late that evening until we were happy with the finish.
Upon an early arrival the next morning, we were able to get straight on with the task of applying the GTechniq C1 coating to the paint. Wheels were removed and GTechniq C5 applied to both wheels and brake calipers, GTechniq C4 applied to unpainted trim and finally G1 applied to the front and rear screens for a long term, incredibly water repellent effect.
This is a selection of images of the finished car. They were taken inside as the next morning the skilled chaps at Paintshield were to apply the paint protection film so we didn\’t want to move it outside and risk contaminating the surface with rain/dust/dirt being blown around outside.
There will only ever be one first, and one last of anything, so we feel particularly privileged to work upon this car. We\’d also like to say a huge thank you to Ann & Tom Wakeford of Paintshield for their hospitality.