Buying an Aston Martin
It's a big moment in a gearhead's life when it has been decided that an Aston needs to be added to the garage. There's so much to know, so much to consider, and so many concerns that can weigh on our minds - where do we even begin? How are we supposed to figure out which one to buy?
I get asked all the time for Aston-buying advice. While I do my best to answer those questions for each person, I think an overview would help a lot of people.
Rule Number One
Be patient. Period.
There are plenty of modern Astons out there on the market, especially if you're looking for a V8 Vantage. If you find the one that suits you, don't rush into buying it. You still need to do your due diligence.
I made that mistake with the red V8 Vantage project car. Had I followed my own advice, I wouldn't have bought the car. Even just a quick inspection would have told me to walk away. But I decided to risk it, and I'm paying for it in the end.
No matter where you find yourself in the buying process, never forget Rule Number One!!
Establish your budget
Since an Aston Martin can range in price anywhere from $35,000 (used) to $350,000 (new), you'll need to have a budget ready before you begin looking for your car. The budget will set some constraints on what models and years you should look at, which helps narrow down your search.
I'd recommend having three different budgets in mind:
- Purchase price and associated costs
- Annual maintenance
- Expensive maintenance and repairs
This is the price of the car, plus any expenses required to get it on the road. That means the price of the car, any taxes you might have to pay, inspection costs, registration, and transportation.
The car's price, taxes due, and registration are pretty simple, but inspection costs and transportation are two major variables. I cover inspections and transportation in their own sections below, but be prepared to pay for a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI), plane tickets to see the car in person before you decide to buy it, and transportation costs if it isn't local.
The amount you'll need up front to cover the total cost to purchase a car can range wildly, so do some research beforehand to figure out how much you'll need.
A general rule of thumb is to budget $1500 per year for annual maintenance, and roll over any of that not used to the next year to help cover bigger-ticket items like tires, brake rotors, a clutch, and so on. If you're doing your own maintenance, your maintenance costs can be substantially lower. I sell maintenance packages that you can use to help plan out what your costs will be, but don't forget things like tires and brake pads that you'll need every few years. At $200-500 per year, the V8 Vantage is fairly inexpensive to maintain if you're doing the work yourself.
Expensive Maintenance and Repairs
This is where things can hurt. Tires aren't any different than you'd pay for any other sports car, but they do add to your budget so keep them in mind. The big one, though, is the clutch. I wrote a blog post a while back that covers the clutch in the V8 Vantage, which just about everyone considers to be its weak point. Aston Martin has upgraded the clutch material since the earlier cars, and there are aftermarket options available to add even more peace of mind, but the clutch is and will continue to be a major cost for these cars. Be prepared to spend $5000 (for an OEM clutch) to $7000 (for an aftermarket clutch) for parts and labor when the time comes.
I've done a lot of work to bring the ownership costs of a modern Aston Martin down to more reasonable levels, but repairs are going to be expensive no matter what you do. Body panels, paint, headlights, tail lights, and plenty of other things are going to have absurdly high repair or replacement costs associated with them. Don't forget that!
Buy the book
Once you have your budget laid out, you can begin the hunt for your car. Deciding which one to get, however, can be very tricky. Despite all of them looking relatively similar, there are vast differences across the models, and even within a single model range. In addition to that, Aston Martin has implemented incremental changes (usually, but not always, they're upgrades). Listing out all the information, including all the changes for each model over their lifetimes, would take an entire book.
Luckily, a gentleman named Grant has done just that! Pro tip: Buy his book!
It's a very worthwhile investment for owners and prospective owners alike, and an irreplaceable resource for the information it contains.
Inspecting candidate cars
This is where the initial purchase of an Aston can get expensive right off the bat. In the UK, it's fairly easy to find a car within a reasonable distance to go inspect before you buy it. In the US, that's often not the case. Be ready to fly across the country to look at a car (and be prepared to ship it or drive it back to you!) in person before you sign that bill of sale.
There are two types of inspections you should do when you're considering a specific car. First is a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI). This is a standardized inspection performed by Aston Martin technicians. It costs around $600 and covers a bunch of mechanical stuff. It can also be used to help a car qualify for an extended warranty, which a lot of people do prefer to get. Some independent shops can also perform a PPI, but Aston most likely won't let it be used for their extended warranty program.
The other type of inspection is cosmetic, which isn't typically covered within a PPI. Look at the paint's condition, leather wear and pulling, chips and scrapes in trim pieces, curb rash on the wheels, and so on. Do NOT rely on pictures for a cosmetic inspection - many issues won't be visible in pictures, so you must do this in person.
Don't skimp out on these inspections for any car you're seriously interested in buying. They're costly up front, but can save you literally tens of thousands of dollars down the road.
Getting a car home
Don't be surprised if you have to search nationwide to find the right car. It's fairly common when you're set on a specific set of colors and options for a given car. Not only does it make getting the inspections done a bit more difficult, it also makes it harder to get the car home. You've got two main options if you're buying a car that's a good distance away from where you live: Fly there and drive it home, or have it shipped.
For my two Vantages, I flew to the grey car and drove it back, and had the red car shipped.
If you can fly out to where the car is and drive it home, I highly recommend you do it! It'll be an incredible experience and you'll have memories to last a lifetime. I did this with my first Aston (the grey V8 Vantage) and I'm still very close with the couple I bought it from. In fact, we visit each other at least once a year and keep in touch constantly. Everyone's experience will vary, of course, but the trip will surely be a memorable one.
The way I did it was simple. I did all of my due diligence and decided it was the car to buy. I struck a deal with the seller and flew down to Florida with a check in hand. I looked over the car, then took it for a test drive, then handed over the check. If at any point something seemed wrong prior to signing the bill of sale, I would have canceled the deal and flown home. But everything was fantastic and I bought the car. I ended up staying the weekend there, and then enjoyed a several hour drive home.
Shipping is by far the most convenient way to get a car home when you're buying it long-distance. Depending on where it's located, it may even be less expensive than the airfare, gas, and hotels it might take to drive it home. But be warned, there are risks involved!
I found out the hard way that there are two general types of auto transportation companies out there: actual transporters and brokers. In my experience, do NOT hire a broker. You don't know what kind of transporter you'll get and, in my case, you might end up seriously regretting it.