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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hot Wheels Aston Martin V8 Vantage and Vantage GT3

It's nice to see a road car and track car right next to each other, especially when both share the same body shape, drivetrain, and engine (unlike NASCAR, for example).  The latest offering is from Aston Martin with the Vantage GT3, but unlike the V8 Vantage this Hot Wheels version gets screwed by the infamous up-slope chin!

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The V8 Vantage was Aston Martin's first assault on the Porsche 911 when it was introduced in 2006.  The new small Aston Martin looked great carrying the family heritage and offering a 4.3L DOHC V8 that produced 380 hp. and 302 Ib-ft. of torque through a rear-mounted 6-speed manual transaxle.  The V8 Vantage was a worthy competitor, but was not favored to be the best by auto journalists.  To fix that Aston Martin later stuffed a V12 under the hood, and with proper hood ventilation for the large motor, created the V-12 Vantage.  Now the V-12 Vantage is used for racing in the GT3 class, using a tubular frame and a modified 5.9L DOHC V-12 to produce well over 500 hp. through a six-speed sequential manual at the rear.  Strangely this car is about to be ten years old and never has strayed much from the original design or platform.

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One of the few standouts of the cartoonish 2005 New Models, the V8 Vantage arrived in a striking yellow color as the very first Hot Wheels Aston Martin.  The front has silver headlights with Aston badge on the hood and the chrome grille, which is part of the base.  The long hood, short deck profile looks great with the smooth curves on the sides, ending at the rear with the red taillights, Aston badge, and a chrome lower bumper that doesn't show much of the exhaust tips.  Underneath shows some engine and transaxle details, along with the exclusive Hot Wheels logo cutout for 2005.  The interior, hard to see in the tinted windows, shows the 2+2 layout with the same smooth dashboard layout of the other Aston Martin's of the time and a shifter sticking out of the center console.  Looked good at first, but later versions showed how the smooth body lines lack any character details to make it stand out more as an Aston Martin; as evident in the red and blue 2007 recolors shown here.  This lack of character eventually limited the V8 Vantage to a short life by far, though some added details to the 2010 Speed Machines version did a good job of adding some character to the casting.

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Today, our new V8 Vantage is now a V12 Vantage GT3.  This time you get more character lines, at the expense of an up-slope chin.  The front has a smaller Aston grille with mesh pattern, detailed headlights, and a hood with numerous vents with the center ones cut out of the metal body.  The blue and white look great on this casting, with the roof that appears to be a non-metal portion of the body (not sure, but by touch it feels like its part of the window piece), while the sides have flared fenders that meet the lower rocker panels with side exhaust.  The rear now has a larger wing, the same taillights, and a smaller bumper where the lack of any covering at the bumper ends look like a cheap shortcut to me.  The base lacks any detail thanks to the smooth underbody tray, while the interior now only seats one driver in a racing seat with 5-point harness, little roll cage provided behind, front passenger seat now houses the battery and other essential racing gear, and the stock dashboard remains but without airbags, digital racing gauges, switches where the radio used to be, racing steering wheel, and oddly enough when most cars go for the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, this Aston GT3 still uses the console shifter location to change gears.

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While the GT3 is a nice addition to the collection, it sours in comparison to the V8 Vantage, and now that makes me like the V8 Vantage even more so.

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