Created using the tried and true technique of putting the largest engine in the smallest car, the V12 Vantage is one of the best sports cars of the last decade in addition to being the last naturally-aspirated V12 manual car ever made. When the V8 Vantage appeared, it was powered by a 4.3 liter 380hp V8 and was universally praised for its spectacular good looks, aluminum chassis, and handling balance. Dry sump lubrication and rear-mounted transaxle signaled that Aston Martin was serious about creating a genuine sports car, and the press noted that the car could easily handle more power. Four years later, the V12 Vantage appeared, powered by the hot-rodded 510hp 12-cylinder DBS motor (60hp more than the DB9 motor on which it was based). Functional carbon fiber vents were added to the hood and the bumpers and side skirts revised, and a larger rear lip spoiler added along with larger wheels and brakes.
In 2013, an S variant appeared, which featured a revised engine with 55 more horsepower (565hp in all), a more aggressive front fascia, updated wheels and other exterior details, upgraded brakes, and updated interior. Disappointingly, it was available exclusively with an automatic transmission. Until it wasn’t. In 2016, Aston Martin announced the addition of a manual transmission to the V12 Vantage S, interestingly a 7-speed close ratio unit with a dogleg shift pattern. While the addition of 55hp is meaningful, the ratios of the 7-speed gearbox transform what was already an enjoyable car into an absolute joy. The close ratios mean the car is always in the powerband. As a result, it is always ready to play, a thrilling, visceral experience that makes it one of the most enjoyable sports cars of the last decade.
Although it was created by pulling the best from the Aston Martin parts stash, the V12 Vantage is stunning driver’s car. It is a car with superb proportions, dynamically spectacular, and aurally sensational. It is the ultimate expression of the old-school sports car: front-engined, naturally aspirated, and manual, but rendered with the brilliance of today's cars. In short, it is the Ferrari that Ferrari never made.
This particular example is a one-owner California car and is one of just 100 manual V12 Vantages imported to the United States. It has covered fewer than 1,200 miles and is already emerging as wildly collectible as the last manual V12 car ever offered for sale.