Thanks to the financial support of a large automotive group such as Ford Motor Co. and under the direction of Dr. Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin set out to expand the range of models to reach a wider audience. The development project of a new sports car was aimed at settling in the market niche reserved until then to the Porsche 911.
The Aston Martin AMV8 Vantage will allow us to access a larger market. Aston Martin will never become a large volume manufacturer, but this model will allow more customers to enjoy the Aston Martin experience.
The AMV8 Vantage is a really important model for us, as it will allow Aston Martin to become a serious contender in the global sports car market.
– Dr. Ulrich Bez
In 2000 Aston Martin started to consider the assault on a new market niche with a younger target audience. For this, the company would develop a hatchback two-seater coupe, something that Aston Martin hadn’t done since the DB2.
The initial idea was to create a mid-rear engine car, which Dr. Bez rejected in autumn 2000, in favor of a mid-front engine schema.
In September 2001, after Henrik Fisker had joined the company as Design Director, work began on the project with internal code AM305.
The AM305 project was conceived as the first Aston Martin to use the VH platform (horizontal vertical). This platform is the mechanical basis of all Aston Martin models (with the exception of the One-77) until the DB11 was unveiled in 2016. The DB11 would use the evolution of this platform, called VH2.
Much of the technology that has been developed with the Aston Martin Vanquish will be adopted in the production of the AMV8 Vantage
– Jeremy Main
The power plant adopts a transaxle configuration, where the engine is located behind the front axle, connected to the gearbox through a transmission tube made out of carbon fiber. This configuration provides the vehicle with an almost perfect weight distribution.
This first work after Fisker’s enrollment in Aston Martin continues with the design language developed by the previous Chief Designer, Ian Callum, responsible for the DB7 and Vanquish.
Compared to the Vanquish, it’s surfaces are much simpler, dynamic and full of tension.
– Henrik Fisker
Fisker worked independently during these early stages of the project and soon developed the basic idea on which his concept would be based: Proportions of a classic coupe with long bonnet, driver sitting close to the rear axle, wide body, muscular shapes and soft lines.
Fisker would say that, although it was inspired by the classic designs of the company, such as the DB4, the design is contemporary and advanced, evolving the bases established with the DB7.
I was inspired by the DB4: sporty, elegant, with a simple and refined side section. However, I didn’t want to create a retro design. This is a modern design in which we show our technology more than ever: the headlights, taillights and switches are unique and advanced.
The AMV8 Vantage has many of the design cues that have become the basic DNA of Aston Martin. It is important to ensure that the design of the car is pure, clean and modern, but at the same time identifiable as an Aston Martin.
– Henrik Fisker
Soon the team in charge of the AM305 project grew with the incorporation of Ivan Lampkin and Sarah Maynard, both enrolled to work on the interior design.
After the 1: 1 scale sketches were reviewed, the direction that the design would follow was definitely established. That lead the team to directly work on the real scale clay model.
In February 2002 both clay models of the body and interior were ready to be reviewed by the management board. New refinements in the design emerged from this revision, resulting in smoother shapes for the bodywork.
Special attention was paid to parts such as the bumpers or exhaust outlets to achieve a completely integrated design in the set.
After a second revision in April that same year, the design was definitely approved and the decision was made to build a functional prototype to be shown in the Detroit Auto Show.
Our cars must be full of character. One of the main reasons for buying an Aston Martin is its imposing design.
I wanted to create unique rear lights, easily identifiable in the future.
– Henrik Fisker
The aim of the front design is to increase the prominence of the grille, which is the hallmark of the company. It has become a sharper element, with greater emphasis on the concave part under the headlights. The prominence of the grill is increased, also, because all the panels part from it.
This is a good example of visual craftsmanship, since the manufacture of the panels would be unthinkable for a large series vehicle. Similarly, the side outlet and the tension line on the side need to be handcrafted to achieve such a finish quality when working with aluminium.
– Henrik Fisker
The work on this project would see its tipping point during the presentation at the Detroit Motor Show on January 6, 2003 of the AMV8 Vantage prototype, 5 years after having unveiled the V12 Vanquish in the same room.
Aston Martin: Power, Beauty and Soul, David Dowsey, 2010
Definitive Guide to New Gaydon Era Aston Martin, Grant Neal, 2017
Aston Martin, Richard Loveys, 2015