Aston Martin's customers had been clamouring for an eight-cylinder car for years, so Aston Martin designed a larger 2-door saloon for V8 applications. The engine was not ready, however, so in 1967 the company released the DBS with the I6 Vantage engine from the DB6. Two years later, Tadek Marek's V8 was ready, and Aston released the DBS V8. With the demise of the straight-6 Vantage in 1973, the DBS V8, now restyled and called simply the Aston Martin V8, became the company's mainstream car for two decades. It was retired in favour of the Virage in 1989.
From 1969 through 1972, Aston's flagship model was the DBS V8. Though the body and name was shared with the six-cylinder DBS, the V8 sold for much more. The body was a modern reinterpretation of the traditional Aston Martin look, with a squared-off grille and four headlights (though some consider the styling derivative of the early Ford Mustang). Distinguishing features of the V8 model are the larger front air dam and lack of wire wheels, though some six-cylinder DBS cars also used the V8's alloy wheels. The tail lights were taken from the Hillman Hunter.
A road test report of the time noted that the car had gained 250 lb (113 kg) in weight with the fitting of the V8 in place of the previously used six-cylinder unit, despite the manufacturer's assurance that the engine weighed only 30 lb (14 kg) more than the older straight-6. Other contributions to the weight gain included heavier ventilated brake discs, air conditioning, fatter tyres, a new and stronger ZF gearbox as well as some extra bodywork beneath the front bumper.
Marek's V8 engine displaced 5.3 L (5340 cc/325 in3) and used Bosch fuel injection. Output was not officially released, but estimates center around 315 hp (235 kW). The DBS V8 could hit 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.9 seconds and had a top speed of nearly 160 mph (257 km/h). 402 DBSV8s were built.
A DBS V8 was to be used by Roger Moore in the television show, The Persuaders! However, no V8 car was ready, so a six-cylinder DBS was modified to look like a V8 for use in the show.
1977 Aston Martin V8 (North America) 1986 V8 Vantage Volante (USA Specification)
In April, 1972, the DBS V8 became just the Aston Martin V8 as the six-cylinder DBS was dropped, leaving just this car and the Vantage in production. Although David Brown had left the company, he had overseen development of this model.
The V8 became known as the AM V8. Visual differences included twin quartz headlights and a mesh grille. AM V8 cars, produced from 1972 through July 1973, used a similar engine to the DBS V8. Just 288 Series 2 cars were built.
The car switched back to carburettors for Series 3 in 1973. These cars are distinguished by a taller hood scoop to accommodate four twin-choke Weber carbs. The car produced 310 hp (231 kW) and could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.1 seconds with an automatic transmission or 5.7 with a manual. Performance suffered with emissions regulations, falling to 288 hp (215 kW) in 1976. The next year, a more powerful "Stage 1" engine with new camshafts and exhaust brought it back up to 304 hp (227 kW).
Production of Series 3 cars lasted from 1973 through October 1978, but was halted for all of 1975. 967 examples were produced in this time.
Series 4 ("Oscar India")
The "Oscar India" specification was introduced in October 1978 at the Birmingham International Motor Show. Visually, the former scoop on the bonnet gave way to a closed "power bulge", while a spoiler was integrated into the tail. Most Oscar India cars were equipped with a Chrysler "Torqueflite" 3-speed automatic transmission, with wood trim fitted for the first time since the DB2/4 of the 1950s. Just 352 Oscar India models were built from 1978 through 1985.
The fuel-injected Series 5 cars were introduced in 1986 at the New York International Auto Show. The compact Weber/Marelli system no longer needed the space of the previous carburettors, so the bonnet bulge was virtually eliminated. 405 Series 5 cars were built before production ceased in 1989.
James Bond's car (a series 4 model registered "B549 WUU") in the 1987 film, The Living Daylights (the first of the two films starring Timothy Dalton) can cause some confusion for viewers (even those quite familiar with Aston Martin models of that era). At the beginning of the film, the car is an V8 Volante (convertible). The actual car used in these scenes was a V8 Volante owned by Aston Martin Lagonda chairman, Victor Gauntlett. Later, the car is seen being fitted with a hardtop ("winterised") at Q Branch. However, later scenes actually feature a pair of V8 saloons with the same number plate as the Volante seen in the beginning of the movie, retrofitted with other "optional extras" such as spiked tyres, skis, lasers, and missiles. Clearly, the car was intended to be seen as a V8 Volante with hardtop.
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