The word Vantage first appeared alongside the Aston Martin brand name in 1950, with the debut in that year of the Aston Martin DB2 with Vantage specification.
As with many of the early uses of the Vantage appellation, the title stood for a car with an uprated engine. In this instance, it referred to the use of larger SU HV6 carburettors and a higher 8.16:1 compression ratio in the car’s 2.6-litre Lagonda engine. These enhancements combined to achieve a heady 125bhp at 5,000rpm, thereby significantly outstripping the ‘standard’ DB2’s circa 105bhp. Just shy of 250 of these augmented DB2 Vantages, both saloons and drophead coupes, were manufactured at the brand’s then factory in Feltham, Middlesex, and it is believed that a good number of those remain drivable today.
Many Aston Martin engineers and designers had a hand in the early Vantage programme, but a technical paper on valve timing tests stored in the Aston Martin Heritage Trust archive shows that renowned racing car design theorist Robert Eberan von Eberhorst – famous for his early work with the Auto Union team before moving on to later design the Aston Martin DB3 and DB3S – was overseeing the project.
Communicating the Vantage advantage at the 1951 Earl’s Court Motor Exhibition, an Aston Martin press release said: “On the 1951 Earl’s Court stand will be displayed two Aston Martin DB.II saloons, one fitted with the regular engine and one fitted with the ‘Vantage’ engine, the high speed regularity of which was demonstrated so forcibly at Le Mans this year and last.”
The arrival of ‘Vantage’ as a signifier of more potent performance gently caught on among the sports car aficionados of the time, but it was not until early the next decade that another of the brand’s road-going offerings officially appeared in uprated Vantage form.