A wise man once said, “Don’t talk about it, be about it,” which is a phrase that has the ability to both motivate people and trigger drunken fistfights at sporting events. This saying is also the main reason I just bought a used Aston Martin V8 Vantage for less than the price of a brand new, mass-market family sedan, with zero regrets. Well, not on my end, at least.
For those that are used to reading my work, or you’re the ambitious Lyft driver that I met yesterday that asked if this site was really called “Jello Picnic,” welcome to what may as well be a regular exercise in automotive masochism. For those that aren’t familiar, I’m the guy who tells you to shoot for your automotive dreams because life is simply too short to drive something boring.
I’ve always loved the styling of modern Aston Martins, but that basically just puts me in the same boat with anyone with a pulse and eyes that can still recognize vague shapes. The company’s use of the golden ratio in its designs and engineering make for the most visually striking cars ever made, and despite newer models falling short of that ideal, most of Aston’s offerings are, without a doubt, on fucking point.
That’s why, a few years ago, I made it a life goal of mine to own one sooner or later, emphasis on the sooner part.
Things kicked inevitably kicked themselves up a notch when long-time Jalopnik contributor and Gilmore Girls superfan Doug DeMuro announced that he’d bought one of the best examples out there, a silver-on-black 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, to drive daily and write about for the year.
As someone that usually applauds people on their car purchases and hard work, there was one emotion that I felt permeating through my curly, slightly balding head: a deep sea of petty, kindergarten-grade jealousy.
The only way to stop it was to set a hard line in the sand for myself. I wouldn’t one-up Doug, because frankly, couldn’t afford it. What I would do is offer to buy the car from him at the end of his writing cycle, around mid-November when most responsible people would start thinking about their yearly tax deductions, present company obviously excluded.
Doug said he purchased it for $45,000 with a one year warranty that cost $3800. With tax and titling fees, he likely got his V8 Vantage for under $53,000, which, for a car with 40,000 miles on the clock and a factory guarantee of performance, is a screaming deal. But I had to do better. Way better.
The very same day that Doug’s article was published, I sent him a private message in somewhat of a frantic cold sweat, offering him what I thought was fair market value for the car after he’d done his CarMax-fueled hemming and hawing to the tune of millions of views on YouTube.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t have anywhere near $40,000. It’s actually quite likely that my bank account at that point likely started with a minus and I still had a house to buy, as I was still sharing a 10 x 8 bedroom with my wife in my parents’ house in New Jersey.
This Aston would be the largest and most expensive car purchase that I’d ever undertaken, but I’d have been damned if I had to resort to a financing company to lend me the money I needed for my dream purchase. No guts, no glory.
What I did have, was a good amount of time and a deadline, so I saved every penny not necessary for sustaining my disheveled physique and put everything I could find between couch cushions in my Aston-or-bust fund over the next year.
When the time came for Doug to actually think about selling, I sent him several casual reminders that although the car technically belonged to him, he was just holding on to it for me until I was ready to collect.
By the year’s end, the car had been on numerous road trips, including one across the country and back and a screaming 145 mph run across the Bonneville salt flats, and barring one instance when it developed a weird and noisy fault, was as dead reliable as anything you’d see advertised on local radio with $0 down and $99 a month.
However, as time had elapsed and I met with Doug a few times, he mentioned that depending on the mileage, he’d price the car “somewhere between $36,000 and $40,000.”
Here’s a pro tip for every budding Craigslist seller: Never give your car’s selling price a range, because the price will always be the lower number you established. Not even the most weak-willed, spineless idiot would pay a price higher than the one you said you’d already accept.
Based on that striking piece of information, I saved myself $4,000 and adjusted the purchase price of the $126,000-when-new Aston Martin to a number slightly less than the initial cost of a loaded Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE with an optional trunk spoiler. I nailed the Aston down for just $36,000.
The plan was to get the car in mid-November, just in time for a snarky and unfunny tweet about how I got it on Black Friday, but as luck would have it, the funds presented themselves well in advance of that deadline, and I pestered Doug to release the Aston from his bumper-to-bumper grip and sell me the damn thing already.
He agreed, I wired him an amount of money that my bank likely deemed suspicious, and I booked a flight to Philadelphia, city of brotherly love, nonplussed pedestrians, and big goddamn potholes.
After signing over the necessary paperwork and receiving two sets of keys that were originally designed for a entry level Volvo, I had it. I now owned a hand-built, European sports car with a dry-sump V8 and a manual transmission.
Holy tapdancing shitcakes.
However, although I still have around two months left on the factory bumper to bumper warranty, I’m going to let you know, over the course of my ownership, what it’s like to actually work on this thing and make it more of the poised, race-ready performer I’d always imagined it to be. My first shakedown run will be a 1,050 mile journey from New Jersey to Florida at the end of the week.
After that, I wager the real fun will begin, and I honestly can’t wait to start breaking shit. It’s either that, or I never make it and get stranded on the side of the I-95 in an unceremonious, dignity-and-bank-account-killing cloud of smoke.