The Vanquish was the grandest of grand tourers when it went on sale, after first appearing as the Project Vantage GT concept car at the North American International Auto Show in 1998. This super-refined machine designed by Ian Callum sat proudly at the top of the Aston Martin totem pole from 2001 and remained there for six good years, helped by an appearance as 007’s wheels in the twentieth Bond film, Die Another Day, in 2002.
The Vanquish had classic streamlined coupe lines and a traditional front-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration. The engine was a 5.9 litre V12 teamed with a six-speed clutchless manual transmission and fly by wire throttle. Critics complained that the engine consisted of two Ford Duratec 30 V6 engines bolted together but in fact — though it shared components — the Aston engine was a unique power plant designed by Ford in America.
From 2004 Aston Martin offered an optional Sports Dynamic Pack for the Vanquish, which delivered enhanced suspension, upgraded brakes and more precise steering. These improvements were incorporated as standard in the Vanquish S that appeared in 2005. In addition, there were minor style tweaks, new wheels and a more powerful engine.
There was talk of a Vanquish convertible to challenge the Ferrarri 550 Barchetta, but nothing ever came of it. Two concept cars based on the Vanquish were shown at Geneva in 2004 — the Zagato roadster and Bertone Jet-2 estate car — but they, too, were stillborn.
To mark the end of the production run in 2007, the limited Vanquish Ultimate Edition was created. Just 40 cars were built, all painted black, with personalized sill plaques and a plush interior. The last Vanquish Ultimate was the final car to emerge from the historic Newport Pagnell works, before new management relocated production, to Gaydon in Warwickshire.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
2001 (until 2007)
5,935 cc V12
Top speed of 196 mph (315 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.4 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The paddle-shift gearbox on the Vanquish was so temperamental that (rather too late in the day) a manual six-speed gearbox complete with old-fashioned but efficient clutch pedal appeared in 2007 (which could be retro-fitted to earlier models for a modest £13,250.