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Aston Martin “Heaven” Phase 4

Last month we brought you Phase 3 of our Aston Martin Vantage V8 project. We showed you the amazing carbon fiber work by our friends at the Vantage Collection and showed you how we completed the entire exterior with the V1 Carbon Fiber Splitter and the V2 Rear Diffuser. For Phase 4 we move on to the extensive first phase of our engine build up. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is known for its overall appeal but is also known for its infamous lack of power. The 4.3 L V8 producing 380HP simply didn’t do it compared to our Gallardo or 911 Turbo. We called our friends at RSC Tuning and asked Stuart if we could do something to get this Aston to the 500 HP mark…

Stuart and his team at Velocity AP have been tweaking the Aston Vantage ever since its debut in 2006, and so have had quite a bit of experience with the 4.3L under the hood. Stuart did note that 500 HP was not easy but was doable and therefore chose to get the ball rolling and the process started. He recommended we start with the Power Pack , which is a power package that includes all the needed components for an immediate 80-100HP jump. The Power Pack C includes an Exhaust, 200 Cell Cats, Air Intakes and an ECU Tune. Due to the long nature of this review, we will break it down into two parts… For the first part, we will review the Intake, ECU, and 200 cell cats, and leave the actual exhaust and dyno numbers as well as the video for next month.

We had to ship Velocity AP our ECU, which then would go to England and back to us as we got this process on the road. We shipped our ECU Thursday AM and received it back the following Wednesday, which was very fast since it went to Europe and back. I will walk you through all the component upgrades, the install times and my thoughts on them so that you may use this as a guideline if you wish to tweak your Aston.

The ECU: As the brain of the operation, it was indeed necessary for this to become our first modification. Removing the ECU was quite tricky as they put it in a very inconvenient place behind the passenger fender air duct. To reach it you will need to remove the passenger side wheel and inner fender and delicately reach in there and remove the ECU, which is held in by 3 bolts. A good mechanic like the one we had did this in about an hour. Putting back is a bit trickier as its hard to get it in its right place cause you can’t see in there. The process took about an hour and ten minutes but was completed without issues. The first reaction to the ECU is the immediate increase in sound, you hear a slight growl coming from the car sitting there, the growl is also more dominant through the RPMs and increases as you drive. The second difference you will notice is the exhaust valves opens about 600 RPMs earlier than before, meaning your car is faster and sounds fantastic much earlier but the real kicker here is the drivability and responsiveness of the car increases noticeably. We will easily say that 30HP to the wheels along with better shifting response is there. This $1800 ECU Tune is one that we do recommend.

The 200 Cell Cats: This is a must do upgrade for any Aston Martin Vantage owner. The cats are almost see thru in design from one end to the next and look much less crowded than the factory units. The install is a bit tricky as it took about 2 hours due to the placement of the o2 Sensors being different than the factory unit and therefore requiring a bit of pulling, cutting and adjusting to get the right fit. Once installed the sound produced is simply “Pure Aston Martin” as the sound is crisp and much louder and sounds similar to our old Ferrari 360 Modena with Capristo Stage 3 exhaust. We highly recommend this part by itself even if you don’t plan to do any exhaust work. When combined with the ECU, we once again felt an increase in performance but to be honest the sound was so intoxicating that we can’t quite tell you how much faster, but the sound does make it feel like you about to break the sound barrier. This must do Exhaust Racing Cat upgrade will run you $2400 is purchased alone.

Here is a video of the Exhaust and 200 Cell Cats.

The Intakes: For the Power Pack C, Velocity AP uses their very own components and these recently made intakes were no exception. For $79 they are worth every penny and you can clearly again feel an increase in engine responsiveness. We would estimate 5-8 HP here for this, but there is one downfall to the install of these intakes… It’s not easy as 123 like most cars. The intakes themselves are located under the car and not under the hood meaning you cant just open the hood and pop-em in. The part took about 2 hours to install, which brings your grand total to $300-400 when all said and done. This modification isn’t worth paying for labor, unless you plan to install them yourself. It should be done as part of the package if you really want maximum results from your Power Pack. The Intake will run you about $130 parts only.

This concludes this month’s phase 4 upgrades and make sure to join us next month as we review the final component as well as disclose all our road tests and dyno numbers.