AM V8 / V8 Vantage & X-Pack
In 1971, a consortium of enthusiastic owners bought Aston Martin from the David Brown Company. Their first concern was to ensure the future of the Aston Martin V8 and its access to the US market. In service results from early emission testing of the DBS V8 showed that it was most unlikely to be made compliant without very considerable expense and time. There was also a major concern with its reliability and all too frequent loss of tune. The quick and cheap answer was to fit emission compliant carburettors, and an early development configuration of 4 twin choke Webers was quickly selected and chosen. Compliance was achieved, but at the expense of significant power, which was reduced to around 320 bhp, with a corresponding reduction of torque. With minor variations, this engine was to remain in production throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.
Aston Martin was sold again in 1978 and this time was acquired by a new consortium of Aston Martin enthusiasts, with Mr Victor Gauntlett as the MD. One of his earliest decisions was to develop a high performance Vantage version of the V8.
As has already been stated, this V8 engine has demonstrated remarkable development potential, thus enabling the Vantage to be ready for sale within 6 months. The modifications to the engine were relatively modest with use of hotter cams, bigger carburettors, bigger inlet valves, gas flowed exhaust manifolds and a higher compression ratio of 9.0 to 1. In 1981, yet a further variation of the Vantage engine with modified cylinder heads with enlarged inlet and exhaust ports, valves, improved cams was put into production to compensate for the growing weight of the V8 and to preserve its remarkable performance, which fully recovered all the performance lost with the abandonment of the DBS V8 fuel injected car.
Mindful of ever more stringent emission regulations, the last production variant of the V8 engine was launched in 1985, using an electronic fuel injection system developed by Caraway Inc of the USA. Their instruction was to make the engine fully emission compliant. To that end their brief included new cylinder heads as well as a completely new intake and exhaust system. Accordingly, the cylinder heads now featured 4 valves per cylinder with new cams, higher compression and integrated with the use of emission compliant exhaust catalysts. Among the benefits of this engine was a reduced engine height, visible by the modified shape of the car bonnet.