Welcome to BamfordRose and another question of the week. This week’s question is related to V8 Vantage and launch models and cars up to VIN number thousand. Obviously, it’s quite some time ago now in 2004, and the engines on those cars were built to a quite special specification. And now probably because of DB11, the first thousand VIN on DB11 were famously all built, signed off, road tested absolutely everything by Dr. Palmer.
People think that the first thousand V8 Vantages are special in a similar way. Well, they are special cars. They were the launch of one of the best cars ever made. And yeah, the engine internals are non-standard and more exotic. But now many years on, that’s of much less importance than at the time. At the time going into production, there was a bit of a durability scare on engines and the factory didn’t know what that problem was but didn’t want to hold more delay production. And what was happening the bottom ends were seizing up. So, what the factory did is revert to a spec that was known and was used in development. And in development, the spec was costed down and it was that costed down spec that was failing pre-production.
So, the first thousand engines had cast rods, not sintered. Sintered is your MDF of the wood industry, lots of glued together bits of mil. Cast, forged is obviously what it says on the tin. And with that cast connecting rod was a lead-based bearing and, at the time, Ford wanted all lead out of the car so the bearing had to be of a newer modern design. Tri-metal typed tin design, not lead. Led is a bit harder wearing. So, the first thousand engines had a really really strong crankcase bottom end with those components in. It took a thousand engines all the time to build a thousand cars for the factory to get to the bottom of the problem. Turns out one of their suppliers wasn’t coating the big M bearings properly. And that’s why they’re all seizing up, so a really easy problem to fix. And post one thousand, the factory then reverted back to the sintered metal equivalent of MDF connector rod with the tri-metal tin bearing.
That package passes all durability tests and standards. So, although it’s a cheaper grade quality component, it’s actually fine. So, the up-spec component has no discernible, tangible benefit because the casted down component doesn’t fail. Means really the more exotic material components that the first thousand engines were built were not really needed. This was a sticking-plaster the factory used to enable production whilst they had a problem.
Now, many years on, if you’ve got one of the first thousand VIN, okay, it’s pretty cool that the connecting rods are forged, big M bearings are of lead type, but really in terms of if you’ve got VIN thousand and one onwards, then really there’s no difference between those cars. I think the earlier the VIN, the more effort the factory made in quality in terms of panel fit, leather sag in the interior and all sorts of stuff like that. But now years and years on and the car is worn, body panels have been off. There’s been sprayed or repaired stuff like that. Again, even that now means very little. So, in summary, there is no tangible benefit of having one of the first thousand VIN V8 Vantage.