The days of readily available, really large, really great atmospheric engines are done. Hate to break it to you, folks. But unless able to splash out millions on a Gordon Murray or a Bizzarrini, big multi-cylinder engines just aren’t really feasible in series production. Turbos and hybrid tech have got so good and responsive (as well as better at passing tests) that they have to be the way forward for internal combustion. And look at something like a Ferrari 296 GTB - the future doesn’t seem so bad.
Furthermore, while there might not be many more iconic engines coming, there’s a wealth of them still to enjoy from days gone by. While it’s a tired saying now, there really ain’t no replacement for displacement when it comes to engine character. The ability of chunky cubic capacity to put a smile on your face is unsurpassed, from the effortlessness at low revs to perfect throttle response every single time.
You’ll have your favourites, no doubt, but Aston Martin certainly deserves recognition for its commitment to the naturally aspirated cause. They’re still at it, of course, with the epic Cosworth-built screamer in the Valkyrie - and don’t forget the monstrous 7.3 in the One-77 - but it was burly motors like the old Marek V8 and 5.9 V12 that powered so much of its 21st-century success that are probably best known. They really came to define so much of the brand’s appeal during their respective eras.
Once upon a time, this Vantage was one of those Marek-engined Astons, a 5.3 with 315hp or so. An Oscar India (or Series 4) Vantage, it’s always been a very rare car, with only 352 made in the seven years (!) from its 1978 introduction to the end of production ahead of the Series 5. This one is very special even by those standards, though, as it benefits from some very, very major engine work.
The 5.3 was upgraded to 6.3 in 1990 by Aston Martin Works, which will have provided a useful bump in performance. Then, in 1998, it was sent to RS Williams for its 7.0-litre conversion, which is as epic as might be expected given the alliance of legendary V8, a renowned Aston specialist and that much swept capacity. The conversions are still being done today, though you’ll pay rather more for an Oscar India now to kick off with than you would have 25 years ago.
With Cosworth pistons, Carrillo con-rods and a nitride steel crankshaft, a manual Vantage like this one is claimed to make 530lb ft and more than 500hp with the 7.0-litre work done today. There seems little reason to suggest this one would have much less, despite the upgrade taking place as long ago as it did. No doubt RS Williams could have it back to its best if anything was required.
For the moment, the advert for this one doesn’t provide loads more detail. But, frankly, what else do you need to know? The Charcoal Grey paint with Fawn interior looks superb, there’s history going back all the way to 1979, and perhaps no car encapsulates the ‘brute in a suit’ period of Aston Martin quite like an Oscar India. Especially a 7.0-litre one.
These Vantages have enjoyed a real surge in values in recent years after going unappreciated for so long. Late X-Packs in particular are really in demand; those on PH currently are £300k and above, or POA. The very final Vantage made is for sale (with an excellent story to go with it) at £550,000 - these are very, very valuable classics nowadays. The 7.0-litre car is for sale at £350,000; more than the other Oscar Indias out there, but surely a whole lot less than it would cost to create something similar again. And if you can get a 7.0-litre Aston Martin, you’re going to want a 7.0-litre Aston Martin…
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