Rich’s Grey 2007 V8 Vantage

Engine and Transmission

I’ve put a ton of work into my grey 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage and there’s more to come. Here’s a list of the things I’ve done so far, along with pictures, descriptions, and explanations of each modification.

Oil Catch Can Kit

One of my earliest modifications was the very thing that started Redpants as a company: my oil catch can kit. I had noticed a ton of oil sitting inside my intake manifold while tinkering with my car and set out to fix it. The result was a batch of catch cans that sold out quickly with demand for more. I’d originally not wanted to start a business, but eventually caved in and Redpants was born.

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The catch can is internally baffled with multiple layers of fine mesh. The mesh causes oil vapors to condensate into liquid while allowing air to pass through. The liquid oil is stored within the catch can, which can be emptied at any time (though I recommend doing it as part of your routine oil change).

Without being removed with the catch can, the oil vapors would otherwise go into your intake manifold. There it’ll mix with the air and fuel going into your engine and burned within the cylinders. This causes carbon buildup, reduced power output, and worsened emissions. This is all greatly reduced by using a catch can!

Air Box Deletes

Another Redpants product was born out of necessity. I’d somehow managed to crack one of my air boxes. When that happens, it affects airflow rates - the cracked air box lets in more air than a sealed one - so the MAF sensors can get different readings. This results in a MAF Sensor Correlation Error warning on your gauge cluster display.

Instead of replacing the damaged air box, I decided to get rid of the air boxes altogether using a pair of Air Box Deletes. These are 3D printed and allow you to remove the intake system ahead of the intake filters. Removing the intake inlet, inlet ducts, and air boxes shed 11 lbs from the nose of my car.

Here’s a pic of the prototype Air Box Deletes when they were first installed on my car. Don’t worry, the production version is black!

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High-flow intake filters

I’ve also replaced the OEM paper engine air intake filters with a dry cloth set of Redpants high-flow filters. Not only do the high-flow filters allow air to pass through a little easier, they’re also reusable - you can wash, dry, and reinstall the filters, which results in a nice cost savings.

Equal-length headers

With the Air Box Deletes and high-flow filters bringing more air into the engine, more exhaust needs to come out. This begins with a set of equal-length headers from VelocityAP.

The factory headers on the 4.3L and early 4.7L V8 were actually quite good. They had a dual-wall construction with the exterior wall acting as a heat shield. The exterior wall has indentations to allow access for tools - these dents are only on the outside and do not affect the inner walls or the exhaust flowing through them. The dual wall construction also makes the headers look like they have larger-diameter piping than they actually have.

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The main benefit of using equal-length headers on a 4.3L or early 4.7L is that the exhaust pulses from the engine will no longer collide at the collector. Simply put, when exhaust pulses collide in the collector, the collision creates turbulence in that spot. The turbulence then makes it more difficult for subsequent exhaust pulses to pass through the collector. By eliminating the turbulence, exhaust gases can flow through the the headers more easily, improving performance and thus increasing horsepower.

Speaking of exhaust turbulence, the sound of the exhaust was changed. By getting rid of the turbulence, exhaust gases flow more smoothly through the piping and this results in a smoother exhaust note. If you think of it as a sliding scale, the exhaust note has moved closer to exotic car than muscle car.

A secondary benefit is that VelocityAP’s equal-length headers weigh less than the OEM ones.

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The OEM manifold on the right-hand side of the car has an extra heat shield to further protect the starter. The VelocityAP headers don’t have this heat shield, so that one saves even more weight.

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Together that shows an 8.25-lb weight savings by switching to the VelocityAP equal-length headers.

The one thing I’d do differently would be to have the headers ceramic-coated to reduce the amount of heat that can escape from them. I’ll be doing it at some point in the future and it’ll help prevent heat-related degradation of plastic components within the engine bay. I’ve got lots of extra venting with my V12 hood which helps mitigate the extra heat, so I’m not too worried about it for now.

high-flow catalytic converters

Immediately downstream of the headers are a set of high-flow catalytic converters (“cats”). These 200-cell cats replace the 600-cell cats that came from the factory.

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The cats on my grey V8 Vantage are the prototypes first made by RSC Tuning back in the early days of that company (it’s since switched hands at least once and the original team that started it have moved on including Stuart, who went on to start VelocityAP).

No, those cats aren’t the prettiest things around, but they are functional. The production cats from VelocityAP that I sell are much nicer, and I used them on my red V8 Vantage when I had that car.

As with the headers, the cats have improved exhaust flow and increased power, changed the exhaust sound, and reduced weight.

While the equal-length headers changed the exhaust note by smoothing it out, the high-flow cats changed the exhaust note by making it louder. The catalyst material acts as a muffler so reducing the amount of it (going from 600-cell to 200-cell) increases how loud the exhaust is.

I don’t know if I ever weighed these 200-cell cats when I’ve had them off the car, but the current VelocityAP 200-cell cats reduce weight by nearly 8 lbs. I think the ones on my car are lighter than the current production ones so that weight loss is probably conservative from the actual amount of weight reduction I got with these cats.

Muffler

The muffler on my grey V8 Vantage was another prototype from RSC Tuning and, like the cats, increased how loud the exhaust is. There isn’t much power to be gained from a muffler on a V8 Vantage. The factory ones flow pretty well so realistically you’ll only gain a few horsepower with an aftermarket one.

Since power is a relatively small factor, the primary reasons to get a muffler are weight reduction and changing the sound of your car.

I’ve never removed the muffler to weigh it, but I think it’s slightly lighter than the current production VelocityAP mufflers that I sell. That muffler reduces weight compared to a standard V8 Vantage muffler by just over 32 lbs so I’ve reduced the weight of my car by that much, if not a touch more.

The muffler isn’t valved like the factory one. Exhaust valves open and close to allow a car to be quieter at low RPMs and throttle load (say, in a neighborhood) and louder at high RPMs and throttle load. You basically get the best of both worlds. The downside is that valved exhaust systems are more expensive than non-valved ones, and the valves can fail over time. Both are available, though, so you can pick which type best suits your needs and personal tastes.

Exhaust sound

So, I’ve got equal-length headers, high-flow cats, and a non-valved muffler. How’s it all sound together? Hear it for yourself!

Clutch and Flywheel

I let people drive my car fairly often and some of aren’t the easiest on it. My clutch tends to take the most abuse and eventually failed because of it. The clutch is considered a weak point for the car regardless, and I took the opportunity to upgrade it when it needed to be replaced.

The clutch package from VelocityAP uses an OEM twin-plate clutch from a V12 Vantage to replace the standard single-plate V8 Vantage clutch. The OEM V12 clutch is paired with a custom flywheel to reduce overall weight and move the mass of the clutch and flywheel closer to their central axis.

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VelocityAP’s lightweight flywheel is about 2.25 lbs lighter than the OEM flywheel. Not only that, but the weight reduction is from the outer portion of the flywheel which moves the overall mass closer to the flywheel’s center, multiplying the effective weight loss benefits compared to the actual static weight of the item.

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The V12 clutch does the same thing - its mass is also more centrally located than the V8 clutch. It also weighs 2 lbs less. That’s just over 4 lbs of weight lost going from the standard single-plate V8 clutch and flywheel to the much more robust dual-plate V12 clutch and custom flywheel.

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The effect of weight loss in the clutch and flywheel are more dramatic than the numbers would suggest. The clutch and flywheel are attached to the engine and their weight and the distribution of that weight affects how quickly the engine revs up. By reducing the overall weight for these and also moving the distribution of the weight closer to their axis, the engine is able to rev much more freely.

A quick example to help explain how this works: Picture a figure skater spinning on the ice. When she tucks in her arms, she spins much faster. When she puts her arms back out, the spin is slowed. She isn’t putting more or less effort into spinning - all she’s doing is changing where her mass is located.

engine tuning

Tying all this stuff together is the engine tuning and that’s been changed in my grey V8 Vantage as well, again handled by VelocityAP. The tune is a comprehensive revision of the factory file to make the most of the engine while also maintaining safety margins for the engine’s reliability and longevity.

The tune is done via a hand-held module that plugs into the car’s engine OBDII port. You just download the car’s current tune file and email it to VelocityAP. They’ll check over your current tune, re-write it based on your current or planned modifications, and then send you a file to upload via the handheld module. Even if you don’t have any mods or don’t plan to get any, the changes made will give you more power, better fuel efficiency, and better throttle response - all of which I desperately needed for my 4.3L V8!


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