The Ultimate Fit: Aston Martin Van Damn!

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Introducing a brand new column at TTAC: The Ultimate Fit, where you get to figure out the unfortunate souls who would best fit for the rolling relics of the used car world.

Let’s take this 15 year old, 3-door Chrysler minivan with only 59,000 original miles. Better yet, you take it and try to find the perfect buyer.

This 2000 Chrysler Voyager represents the best and worst of the Clinton Era minivans. On the plus side, you get a stunning lack of standard features that were doomed to fail somewhere between the Al Gore presidential campaign and the undoing of the Patriot Act.

No plastic wheel covers that would likely look like broken frisbees by this point. No passenger door for the driver’s side that would probably drop off its hinge. No rear air, which also happens to be a retail killer here in Georgia. As a sixth strike here in heat and humidity central, this minivan supplements the lack of a rear chiller with no tinting of any serious consequence for the side and rear windows. You better have a garage if you buy this one!

On paper, this appears to be one of those unsellable cars. But wait, are those aftermarket power windows on the left hand side of the door? The interior is relatively clean which adds some healthy bonus points to what is a spartan interior. The 2.4L four-cylinder seeing a 16 year run in the Neon and PT Cruiser has a similar presence in these particular Chrysler minivans. I strongly prefer the widely revered 3.3L V6, but this particular van may be better than most others of its time, given it’s the last year of its generation and the interior hasn’t been hopelessly white-trashed all to hell.

This was more than likely a retiree’s van. All three rows are there and the little things, such as the plasticized bumpers and rear taillights, are still fully intact and in cosmetically sound shape. That isn’t too common when it comes to these 15+ year old mini minivans. So, who should buy it?

Vehicle #2 is a rolling testament to the Travis Tritt song T-R-O-U-B-L -E.

This is a 2002 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage. 4 owners. 29,000 original miles. Plus one of these unusual units.

It may look exotic, but what you’re really getting are two Ford Duratec engines fused together in one powerplant. The 5.9 Liter V12 offers a rip roaring 424 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque, which apparently helps make this car the perfect long-distance highway cruiser according to the folks at Car & Driver. This Aston Martin may have never trounced a competitor in the comparos of yesteryear, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a helluva bang-for-the-buck for the used car shopper who can handle the maintenance and the fuel bills.

Those seats are drop dead gorgeous… and the dash is…

Pretty nice from about seven feet away. Let’s get closer…

Well that looks a bit retro. I wonder about those three little holes. Up close it detracts a bit from the design – although, I would probably appreciate the ease of removing that section of the car soon enough. On the other hand, the steering wheel is…

A bit large, and surprisingly spartan compared to the modern day 24 button à la carte which seems to come standard in everything from Camrys to Cadillacs these days. To be frank, I like the Aston Martin’s approach a lot better than the modern day one.

There are some unusual benefits to owning a car whose design dates back to 1994 and was conceived in a less technologically complex time. The 11 miles per gallon in the city would make it a gas hog par excellence for intown, but the 19 miles per gallon on the highway would likely be worth the long-term experience for that highly unusual customer who wants to rack miles on an exotic convertible cruiser with distinctly British flair.

Or maybe it would be better off as a Sunday driver and a glorified museum place. I always loved the looks of these things, but never enough to pull the trigger on one.

So what type of customers would make the best customers for the Aston Van… and the minivan? You make the call!

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • VolandoBajo VolandoBajo on Jun 22, 2015

    *"cangrejospirits". And it's ¡buen aproveche! Channeling the ghost of Pancho Villa, via XEG in Monterrey MX, 50,000 watts of clearchannel power. Buyers: the Aston Martin -- a successful big city yuppie who commutes by subway. Wants a weekend getaway car with panache. Can afford Aston Martin labor rates. Wants to one up his competition, also in rising careers, by driving something a bit more exotic than an M-series Beemer. Will pay twice, once for the car, and once more for his hubris in thinking his success will be able to keep up with the cost of maintenance and/or repair. Still, it will be better than trying to keep a 944 going, and a bit more unique. Age guess, late twenties to early thirties, recently divorced or never married. The equivalent in my real life experience was the programmer analyst who bought a used Maserati Biturbo to compete with things like the boss's new C4, my 88 V8 Bird, another guy's older Vette, another couple's strip-ready AMC, a drophead XK140, etc. Only difference was that he was married, though the repair bills on the Biturbo were putting a lot of strain on the relationship. Car only sounded good when it was running right, a couple of times, once on a Tuesday afternoon, and once on a Friday morning. Thought he was the big winner in the one-upmanship game, until the first repair bill came in. Oh, and the public transportation sucked in this state capital city, and he commuted over seventy five miles one way to collect his bit of the dream. The van: any hard-working Hispanic family with a lot of family members, a/k/a any hard-working Hispanic family in the US. But the most likely subset would be a family that owns a bodega in the hood, and that makes twice weekly runs to the wholesale market to restock. Seats out for work, back in on the weekend for softball and church, or something like that. May well be a second car, the first one likely a Panther or an older Impala, which the family head has owned since his youth, and has maintained. You wish he'd trade it, but he won't. If the car is basically decent, they won't bug you and may send a friend to look for a similar vehicle at your lot. The yuppie, on the other hand, will hound you to death with nitpicking complaints about how he just discovered yet another discrepancy from showroom stock, which you failed to disclose under your "As Is" sales agreement. The more the money is worked for, and hard, the more the new owners can appreciate your need to make a little yourself. Keep the yuppie on your Roladex or equivalent, so you can try to dump the next semi-obscure exotic you take in trade in a moment of weakness, but send a Christmas card to the Hispanic family every year...they will remember you in their prayers, and when talking cars with their friends.

  • Daro31 Daro31 on Jan 07, 2016

    I am probably your DB7 guy, only the lower paid Canadian version. I have worked for the Big 3 all my life in automotive production management and Quality. I am now 60 years old and wanted a toy for our nice garage. Over the years I have bought 3-5 year old European cars which depreciated like crazy for the first guy so I got them for a steal and have had very good luck with them. Audi, BMW, Porsche for a toy and Jaguar. I do my own regular maintenance, enjoy working on the cars doing preventative maintenance and find my cars to be more than just transportation. 2 years ago in November I bought my dream car, 2004 XK8 convertible. In spite of all of the horror stories about Jags I researched and found if it was well maintained it was probably a good car. I spent some winter evenings last year cleaning it up, detailing, and changing all of the fluids and maintenance items like belts and hoses on an 11 year old car. I had an XJ6 in earlier years which treated me well so I was not totally ignorant about them, and if you want a highway cruiser this is it. At the time I bought it I could only find 4 in all of Canada for sale, around here it does also get that panache of uniqueness. I started out driving it last spring with nervousness; everybody goes wow nice car, but don’t you know about Lucas, Prince of Darkness or has it got the V12. She is now away in the garage for the winter, getting some routine stuff you do to a 12 year old car. This past summer I drove her every day and we made 2 long trips, to the East coast of Canada and one to Myrtle Beach. 15000 perfectly trouble free KM’s top down through the Smokey Mountains and cruising the Grand Strand in style. Oh by the way, When I put the Jag away I started driving the winter beater, 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan. I really missed the real dashboard made of wood and the leather. Just traded it 3 weeks ago for a 2006 X-type, now 2 cats and I thoroughly expect to have some maintenance items, but reliability is not something I worry about anymore. The DB7 like the JAG is a niche car and that is why it rates discussion.

  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.
  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.