Aston V8 in S. Africa


It was distressing to read of Mr. Harold Pardoyl’s unfortunate experience wit Ii a V Aston Martin (see August issue). But. like Mr. Classey in the October issue, I fear that he struck a lemon and that his experience and continents are not a fair reflection on what is in fact a magnificent vehicle.

Having owned Astons for many years and haying at present a Mark III and a DB5 in my stable, I was delighted to acquire an early series, air-conditioned, fuel-injected DD5 V8 with automatic Torqueflite transmission, the first and I believe the only V8 in this country. I reluctantly disposed of my 365 GT 2+2 Ferrari to acquire the Aston, hut my doubts were very soon dispelled. During my ownership of the car over the next few years, it performed faultlessly and I had absolutely no trouble in maintaining the par 6,000 miles away from the factory. Apart from the factory-suggested modification to the cooling system early on in the car’s life, only normal maintenance was required and the car was operated at high speeds on long cross-coutury trips, at altitudes varying from sea level to 6000 feet, literally without missing a beta or ever having an involuntary stop. The average speeds on long sustained runs were unbelievable and could hardly be matched by the Ferrari in terms of comfort, safety and fatigue-free journeys.

Performance-wise it was difficult to choose between the automatic DBS VS Aston and the manual five-speed Ferrari 365 CT 2 + 2 as the main difference lay in the feel between thee two cars. The Ferrari felt more like a drivers car with more pronounced sporting characteristics whereas the Astern, being much bulkier, was initially a daunting, car to drive fast, but this feeling disappeared soon enough and I could de) anything with the Aston that the Ferrari could do. ‘Phis parity in performance; handling and road-holding does not quite hold true when the Aston is compared to the 365 GTB 4 Daytona Ferrari which I recently acquired. This however is hardly a true comparison as the Daytona is undoubtedly the ultimate front-engine sports car ;old not the gentleman’s sporting carriage with superior performance which the DBS V8 Aston is. In aircraft terms I always thought of the Aston as a Boing bulky, smooth, immensely powerful and deceptively fast Whereas the 365 GT 2 + 2 Ferrari and now more specifically, the Daytona Ferrari, could be likened to say a Mirage fighter aircraft.

Maintenance-wise it was difficult to choose between the Aston and the 2+2 Ferrari. Both ears needed virtually no replacement parts apart front normal wear and tear items over the period of nearly three years. I can only hope that this State of affairs will continue with the Daytona.

As regards the teething troubles of the early DBS V8s of which insufficient engine cooling at high operating temperatures was about the only major one, this was completely cured by the factory-recommended modification. One also read about the high maintenance costs and the unreliability of the Bosch mechanical fuel injection system, but this I found to be unwarranted and my impression was borne out by the Autocar article “On Buying a Secondhand Aston Martin”. This system after all was incorporated by Mercedes-Benz in their 300 SLR cars way back in the early 1950s and it was the most thoroughly proven and tried mechanical fuel injection system available. Admittedly the cost of a replacement pump is high, but then again one would he very unlucky to need one if normal maintenance of the system is carried out as it can be by any Mercedes-Benz dealer. This brings one to the other point often made about the so-called “immense improvement” of the car by Company Developments who took over from Sir David Brown’s management. The major change of course concerned replacing the Bosch fuel injection system by means of carburetters, restyling the bonnet and replacing the very efficient halogen quad headlamps by means of two single headlamps in addition to numerous rather petty, penny-pinching changes like eliminating the locks of the double fuel fillers. Face-saving reasons given that emission-wise the carburetted car was cleaner than the fuel-injected one, were very far-fetched and certainly not in line with the experience of other fuel-injected cars for the American and overseas markets. Performance-wise of course the car suffered greatly with acceleration being worse by a matter of 1 or 2 seconds all the way up the scale and by having a much reduced maximum speed of only about 146 m.p.h. as against the 170 m.p.h. claimed for the manual Car by the factory and the 162 m.p.h. maximum achieved by the Aurora,road test in 1971.

In conclusion I can only say that my experience with the DBS V8 has been most gratifying and thrilling with the car having been driven as hard and as fast as conditions permitted and yet never letting me down. In addition it compared very favourably with the two 365 series Ferraris I have run concurrently with the Aston. I have always been surprised at the lukewarm reception Astons have had in the British motoring press and that much more has not been made of the car which at the very least is an outstanding modern example of the living legend that is Aston Martin.

Port Elizabeth, S. Africa DR. J. HORAK