Exterior Lighting Mods
There are a few ways you can update and clean up the look of an Aston Martin, specifically the early Vantage and DB9.
A couple quick notes on terminology before we begin:
Generally, Brits will say “tail lamps” and ‘Muricans will say “tail lights” - these are the same thing, just different ways to say it, and I use them interchangeably.
I’ve seen people say both “corner markers” and “front/rear side markers” to refer to the corner markers found on the cars in some markets (more on that below). I’ll only refer to these as corner markers, as there are also side repeaters that are a specific, different part.
Laws pertaining to a vehicle’s exterior lighting differs drastically. Please check with your government overlords as to what you’re allowed (and not allowed) to do.
DISCLAIMER: As always, follow all safety protocols. Don't undertake this task if you aren't comfortable with it and fully understand it. You are ultimately responsible for anything you do. Neither Redpants, LLC or myself is responsible or liable for anything that may occur.
Tail Lamp options
There are three options available for the Vantage, DB9, DBS, and Rapide. Most owners know of two: red and clear. But there are actually two options for clear tail lights, which makes that a total of three available OEM options.
Whether you’re switching up your style or to replacing a dead unit, switching out the tail lights isn’t that difficult. Here’s a guide showing how to do it:
The job takes approximately one hour (40 minutes if you’ve done it a couple times, an hour and a half if it’s your first time) and is done with just a few tools. Redpants offers clear OEM tail lamp kits, including installation kits (also sold separately), with both clear and black trim.
Red tail lamps
The red tail lamps were the first and only tail lights available for the V8 Vantage and DB9. These are considered the “standard” tail lamps, though some people prefer them to the clear options on certain color cars.
While some people might think the red tail lamps are “inferior” to clear, I think it’s entirely subjective. The red does pop very nicely, especially since there’s a body-color fill piece that sits through the middle of the tail light unit to break it up and give it that sharp but graceful arc.
I don’t personally care for red tail lamps on certain cars with certain colors though, specifically red, yellow, and orange. It doesn’t look bad, but for me the clear looks so much better. I think it clashes with yellows and oranges, and gets washed out on reds, which you can see here:
For red cars, I think a set of clear tail lights really stand out beautifully compared to the red tail lights. It adds contrast that looks sporty but still entirely elegant.
Clear tail lamps
There are two options for clear tail lamps: grey trim and black trim. The grey trim tail lamps were the first introduced back when clear tail lamps first appeared on the V8 Vantage N400. (Side note: This was also the car that introduced the first variation of side sills for the Vantage, as well as the “Power Pack” air boxes that would carry on for the V8 Vantage S and other cars). The black trim tail lamps were introduced on the V8 Vantage S.
The clear lenses are the most obvious aspect of the tail lamps, especially compared to the red ones. But here you can see the difference between the grey trim (left, red car) and black trim (right, grey car).
Either way you go, the third tail light (“center high mount signal lamp” or CHMSL) will be the same clear unit. The CHMSL doesn’t have trim on it, so it’ll be the same regardless of whether you get grey trim or black trim.
Smoked Tail Lamps
A way to modify OEM tail lights to make them a bit different is to ‘smoke’ them. This is done with either a laminate film or by spraying them. Spraying them typically gives a better result, but is a permanent change. I did this at one point with the red tail lights on my grey V8 Vantage.
I think it looked pretty awesome, but the downside is that it can be very difficult to get a perfect match if one of the tail lights has to be replaced. Another small downside is that smoking the area of lens over the reverse bulb slightly dulls how bright that bulb is. I didn’t think it was enough of a change to care about, but I did notice it.
There are exterior lights on the V8 Vantage that can also be changed. It’s a common thing for owners to want to change because they vary more than they should… the front corner markers are orange with clear bulbs, the side repeaters are clear with orange bulbs, and the rear corner markers are red with clear bulbs. It’s quite the hodge-podge of lighting.
NOTE: You may not have the front and rear corner markers - they weren’t used in all markets.
One of the projects Redpants has been working on is getting all this exterior lighting sorted. To do that, we’ve made two options for our Exterior Lighting Packages: dark and light grey.
Here you can see our light grey front corner markers and side repeaters.