QOTW #25 – How do I upgrade a Vantage or DB9 on a budget?

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Welcome to BamfordRose and another question of the week. Today we’re going to discuss upgrading a V8 Vantage or equally a DB9 on a budget. This gets commonly asked because someone might have purchased the car and then set aside a part of money, maybe 5K, to transform the car into a bit more of a driver’s machine rather than the sort of sedate machines they are standard.

Unfortunately, the small budget doesn’t go very far. If you scale back from the bigger upgrades to a compromised package, it is just that and driver’s I can’t really advise going for that compromised package because the end result is a compromise compared to what could have been achieved if all of the upgrades were done.

So, specifically, I think we’re talking about exhaust manifolds and catalysts which including V80, we retail for 5000 pounds. We’ve got a lightweight flywheel twin plate clutch, which retails separately at 36, but we do a package deal at 8. And then suspension, especially for the older V8 Vantage that’s on dynamics dampers and really wants great Bilstein to get much better handling. Then there’s a fixed-rate damper or our electronic switchable solution and the fixed-rate damper with fitting, with geo, is going to come in about 4 or 5 whereas our electronic switching is going to come in at about 5. That sort of area depends. There’s roll bars and a few other things to go for. So, add all that lot up and we are talking over 12K’s worth of upgrades which in one hit to do is a lot of investment in the car. I appreciate that.

But if someone says, okay, I’ve got a budget of 5K, then what you could say is, well, instead of the exhaust manifolds and catalyst, let’s just do catalysts, which high-flow catalyst ECU remap, the M400 airbox modification and we can get a good 20-30 horsepower out the engine for about 1750 quid. On suspension, you could then say, well, okay, let’s fit some lowering springs, make the standard setup a bit stiffer and do a geo and for 3K that probably peps the car up quite a bit. The clutch upgrade, you have to have the components. There’s no skimping on those. There has to be the flywheel, the clutch, the slave cylinder and that comes in at 36.

So, you could go for those suspension springs… Slightly stiffer setup could go for the high flow catalyst, not the manifolds, get the clutch in, and it’s a well improved car. It’s just compared to having Bilstein suspension rather than putting stiffer springs on multimatic dampers. The Billstein solution is night and day better. And the on-throttle responsiveness and the urgency of the engine and all the power that you get from going manifolds and catalysts as opposed to catalysts, that’s well worth it.

So, instead of upgrading the car on a budget, what you can and you might be happy with that smaller scale improvement, my advice would be to do it piecemeal. One year, pick which niggles you the most. Everyone gets niggled slightly differently. The poor clutch performance, pull away is difficult, all the crashy damping and a bit of body roll in, it might nickel someone, the suspension more than anything else, and also, its service.

If you get in reports back of wearing clutch or leaky dampers, stuff like that, then that will naturally tell you which one to go for first. I would do the full upgrade and do it piecemeal year by year and ultimately then you’d have invested the sort of 12K figuring the car but you’ll have one heck of a driver’s car and that would be a better approach than say identifying a sum of money that achieves a compromise result and modifying the car that way. This is just my opinion, choice is yours.

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