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Can You Daily Drive a $45,000 Used Aston Martin?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2016

Without fail, the question I get from my readers and viewers more than any other is: Can you really daily drive a used Aston Martin? Since I've been doing exactly that for the past six months, I've had time to really consider it and mull it over, and weigh my thoughts, and I've come up with a highly scientific, thoroughly precise answer, which is: It depends.

But before I clarify my position, allow me to explain my credentials. Six months ago, I purchased a used 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage with a now-famous 1-year, unlimited-mileage bumper-to-bumper warranty from Aston Martin. Since then, I have driven it every single day.

And I don't mean "only on warm days" or "only on weekends" or "only to the dealership service department when it sounds like hyenas are gnawing at the brake lines." I mean I've driven my Aston Martin every -- single -- day. In February, I mounted studded winter tires and drove on a frozen lake in northern Vermont. I drove it to Charleston, South Carolina to finish my book, to the wilderness of Acadia National Park and to Ontario, Canada to meet a reader. I've driven it to many great East Coast cities, and also Portland, Maine.

In all, I've driven it to 13 U.S. states, plus D.C. and Canada, for a total of 9,000 miles in the last 6 months, which is an enormous amount for an Aston Martin. Most Aston Martin owners only drive about 2,000 miles a year. They spend the rest of the time polishing the door sills with a special mixture of carnauba wax and Huggies Snug and Dry.

And this is why my answer is: It depends.

I'll start my explanation with commuting. I would say that the Aston's abilities as a commuter car are its main weakness; the primary thing that would keep me from really daily driving it like a '99 Accord with dried soda on the transmission lever.

Visibility is one problem, as the V8 Vantage has small side mirrors, a high rear deck, big blind spots and a low roof that makes the interior feel a little claustrophobic. But the biggest issue is the clutch. I've received many emails from readers asking me to compare my V8 Vantage to a 911, and I'd say the clutch is the single greatest difference between the two cars. When you push the clutch in a 911, it's buttery smooth and tremendously rewarding. When you push the clutch in a V8 Vantage, it feels like there's a professional wrestler lying on the floor, pushing back.

Interestingly, the Aston doesn't suffer from the primary daily driving issue that plagues most exotic cars: It never bottoms out on anything. Somehow, Aston Martin designers were able to give this vehicle the sleek, beautiful, handsome timeless look of an exotic British sports car, and also the ground clearance of a Dodge Durango.

And then there's the Aston's other benefit over most exotic cars: storage capacity. When I owned my Ferrari 360, the front trunk was large enough for maaaaaybe one single adult sloth. The V8 Vantage has a 2-sloth trunk, easy, plus an additional shelf behind the seats for extra storage. For proof of its cargo-carrying capabilities, my fiancee and I took the Aston on a 10-day trip to Maine, and we had no problem fitting all of our luggage, along with several bulky souvenirs, including a clock shaped like a moose.

So, now let's talk about comfort. Believe it or not, the V8 Vantage is quite comfortable. The ride is fairly harsh, yes, but it makes up for it with these lovely leather seats that feel like the sort of thing they would use as highly supportive desk chairs in some hipster office -- the kind of office where everyone has giant iMacs and you can drive a remote-control car through the halls. Except, you know, the Aston's seats have seat belts.

Now, a lot of people say they aren't too surprised to hear the Vantage is a comfortable car "because it's a grand tourer." But, really, it isn't: Aston Martin's larger DB9 is a grand tourer, but the Vantage is a small, 2-seat, stick-shift sports car through and through, and it generally behaves like one. It has a sports car exhaust note, sports car acceleration, sports car handling and sports car sizing. However, it doesn't ride like the worst sports cars -- the ones where you spend 5 minutes in the driver's seat and you realize that if you could simply be teleported into a Lincoln Town Car, you'd give up every worldly possession you own, including your clock shaped like a moose.

On to the topic that probably knocks the Vantage off most shopping lists: costs. Namely, the fact that it is an aging British sports car, which means that owning it costs as much as operating the entire Carnival cruise line for a month.

I know this assumption is out there, but I haven't really experienced it.

Oh, sure, my car broke down early in my ownership and required a $4,409 repair covered by the bumper-to-bumper warranty. But I attribute this problem to the fact that the car sat on a dealer lot, unsold, for 7 months before I ushered it into my warm embrace. Since then, it has been rock solid -- totally bulletproof, completely ready for any journey I've wanted to take, and there have been many, many journeys. Since that initial problem, the biggest unscheduled repair was a $20 tire plug I got after picking up an annoying little screw somewhere in Connecticut -- a screw I keep to this day to remind myself how annoying screws can be.

With that said, I admit there are some costs that may raise an eyebrow. For instance, the annual oil change in a 911 is about $300, whereas the annual service in my V8 Vantage is $1,400. I replaced the clutch when I bought the car to the tune five grand. Fuel economy is just 13 miles per gallon in the city and around 20 mpg on the highway. And then there's the cost of getting to an Aston Martin dealer: While Porsche has almost 200 dealers across the country, Aston Martin has only 35. You live in Montana? You want a V8 Vantage? Maybe you should consider a nice Mercury Mystique instead.

But the cost situation isn't all bad news. Insurance, brakes, tires and even the dealer labor rate are fairly reasonable compared to similar cars. And given that I've now crested 50,000 miles, I think my V8 Vantage is worth less than $40,000, which is about what it costs to buy a new Ford Explorer. The fact that this isn't some crazy, 6-figure, ultra rare exotic gives me a lotttttt more peace of mind when I leave a store to find that my empty spot at the back of the parking lot has been invaded, and I'm now parked next to a 1997 Dodge Neon with a Tweety Bird steering wheel cover.

Plus, isn't it worth a few extra bucks to drive around in a car with this gorgeous design? This beautiful interior? This exotic engine note?

To me, the answer is yes, but then again, I don't commute to a traditional job, where I'd have to sit in rush hour traffic, day in and day out, constantly working the clutch, peering into the blind spot, wondering why the cup holders were apparently designed to hold nothing more than that little plastic cup that comes on the top of a cough syrup bottle. For you, that might just be a little too much to handle, which is why when you ask me if you can daily drive an Aston Martin, my answer remains: It depends.

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Can You Daily Drive a $45,000 Used Aston Martin? - Autotrader